Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sharethis: Kava Kava - What is Kava Kava

One of life's joys is to experiment! Try new things! Expand your horizons!

I'm a huge experimenter.  Sagittarius Sun in 8th House, after all - the eternal quest to experience quests.  I most assuredly experienced a quest recently.

I've been battling depressive dips as part of Migraine prodrome for a few years.  They've not always been present.  No idea why suddenly they suddenly appeared.  Maybe they'll disappear.

I already take a therapeutic dose of a marvelous antidepressant, Effexor XR, every day.  It's part of my Migraine preventative regimen which also includes verapamil and Keppra.  Other than the regular "blues" that everybody contracts, I shouldn't feel depressed.

These depressive dips don't cause me worry anymore, not like they did when they first started.  Still, I don't like them.  I never want to have another one.

I was battling one of them the other night.  St. John's wort, a safe mood-enhancing herb, isn't something I want to try to combine with Effexor.  So I started hunting around for something else to try.

I found again--kava kava root, also called simply kava.  I've tried kava capsules but of all things, they make my head hurt!  Still, I've used them for social events.  I can speak to and perform for 3 people or 3 million people, live or taped or by tin-can telephone if you like.  Show biz is a breeze.  But please, never ever ask me to go to a grown-up party where I don't personally know and deeply love at least 85% of the folks in the room.  Rivers of glow streak my makeup and soak my underclothing.  I throw up.  I dream of death and it would be easy and welcome.  Groan-and-throw-up parties are what I consider hell to be like.  Kava has made it possible for me to discharge social duties I'd otherwise never be able to handle.  Kids parties?  Love'em, threw them for my daughters regularly.  Kept me out of the groan-grown-throw-up parties.

But I can't deal with anything else that makes my head hurt.  So kava stays in the bottle on the shelf for emergency social appearances.

I have absolutely no idea what possessed me to order shredded kava root a while back.  I've amassed a mass of herbs from Frontier Co-op and Mountain Rose Herbs and a couple of other places.  I've been reading Susun Weed and Rosemary Gladstar and remembering things I used to do with plants when I was younger.

Anyway - so I remember I've got these shredded kava roots.  You shouldn't heat water to make kava beverages because some of the active ingredients are destroyed at 140oF and higher.  Capsules would seem like the perfect alternative but many of them contain kava stems and leaves which have been linked to liver damage (and they don't have any good relaxation benefits either - they just fill up the capsules with less of the active root powder).  Worse, some capsules are doctored with various kava extracts prepared with chemical solvents that should never be used in the preparation of anything intended for a human body.

So, I've got these shredded kava roots.

I've watched the shows on TV describing traditional methods for preparation of kava beverages.  Seems that the roots are never eaten or fermented in any way.  They're just powdered, chewed, or ground and mixed with water.  Then they're either kneaded or blenderized, strained, and then drunk.  Straightforward, really. 

Blame it on the Lunar Eclipse that hit my Sagittarius 8th House.  Blame it on my own curiosity.  Blame anyone but me for wanting to try CHEWING SHREDDED KAVA ROOT to see what that segment of traditional beverage preparation would be like.  Mastication seems to make the kavalactones more easily accessed.  And it would be FUN.

I had been reading accounts of poor virgin daughters of Pacific Island tribal chiefs who would elope to avoid the chore of chewing kava root for the whole tribe.  Poor things!  Sexually pure virgins were considered to have what it took to make the perfect kava bolus.  Girls have left virginity behind for less than kava roots, it seemed to me.  Surely if I was making just a serving for myself (half the average quantity as always at first, to gauge my sensitivity), I could do it. 

Chewing shredded roots!  I eat carrots all the time!  Surely I was up to chewing dried kava!  I closed my eyes and dove into a nice pinch of the tablespoon I had settled upon for the 2 cups of water I wanted to use.

Three tablespoons of kava root it took me to decide that this was fun to do--once.  The taste was fairly pleasant as dried roots go but the resulting goo was disgusting to look at before getting stirred into water (figured out on the second serving to just put the chewed pinches directly into the tap water), and once I got a small splinter in my throat that wouldn't go up or down for a minute.  The blenderizing didn't smooth out the chewed pinches as much as I expected but that worked out well for the straining step.

All in all, it was an adventure in libation.  If you shoot the drink it hits faster but wears off quickly as well.  If you sip it, you may never know you've had any.  But so far, no head pain. 

Best of all, this delightful little adventure got me out of the Migraine dumps.  Chewing shredded kava roots is like chewing toothpicks soaked in Novocaine.  I imagine they'd be splendid for a sore throat or if you bit your tongue or something like that.  Once I finally make it through what I've got left, I'm going the powder route which, I understand, is the preferred method nowadays in the areas where kava grows.

If I ever decide to do this again, that is.  I'm not convinced that the benefits are worth the effort and besides, next time it won't be a first-time adventure.  I'll have to go through this ritual several more times before I decide for sure.  There are a couple of things to be aware of so take a minute to read the attached article, please, before embarking on kava.

I'll have to find something else when the depressive dip rolls around again and only an adventure will solve it.  Need to make friends with an ethnobotanist, maybe try smoking mugwort or snorting sneezewort, something legal, safe, and new.

I made it through this time better off than I had been before.  That's a good goal for next time.  Now pardon me while I floss out a Novocaine toothpick.   :)

Kava Kava - What is Kava Kava

Parin Stormlaughter sent this using ShareThis.

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