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Kava Vs Alcohol - Benefits


Kava vs alcohol - which is the best solution?
Kava vs alcohol - which is the best solution?

    Kava vs alcohol

Touted as a non-alcoholic recreational drink, kava has been commonly compared to alcohol. Kava and alcohol can both give people that blissful jolt, that's why they are both used in social settings. As a natural substitute to alcohol, kava has a major advantage of having none of the negative side effects related to excessive drinking of alcohol.

    Advantage of Kava Over Alcohol

Drinking beer or having a glass of wine, whether for unwinding after a day's work or to have fun with friends, has become a popular routine. Islanders in the South Pacific however, have a better alternative to alcohol. They drink Kava, which according to some, make them the cheeriest and most welcoming people in the world because they are free from anxiety.

    Kava Makes You Social

Both alcohol and kava helps in purging your inhibitions that make people more loquacious and social. However, unlike alcohol, which causes people to say and do stupid things that can cause trouble and harm, kava keeps your head clear and sharp. It maintains clarity of thinking and sensitivity to others.

    Kava Enhances Your Mood Without The Hangover

After a night of binge drinking wine, beer or cocktails, expect an unpleasant physiological and psychological feeling called a hangover characterized by headaches, vomiting, nausea and general discomfort to the extent that some people swear that they will not drink alcohol anymore. All these maladies however, are inexistent when drinking kava. You get the same great feeling that alcohol gives, without the sore aftermath.

    Kava Relieves Stress

Kava is one of the few herbals used for relaxation and releasing daily stress
Kava is one of the few herbals used for relaxation and releasing daily stress

People get drunk to forget their problems. Alcohol makes you drunk and sleep to momentarily forget problems. In some cases, drunken people might even become hostile and it is no coincidence that alcohol is often the source of bad behaviour. There are millions of cases every year where alcohol is at the source of a violent event. The government of Vanuatu, one of the major kava producing countries, has encouraged the population to drink more kava because they believe that it has the ability to lower family violence. Kava works differently by calming your mind in order to forget your worries.

    Kava For Anxiety

The alkaloids found in kava, mainly known as kavalactones have a mild numbing property that seems to permeate the whole body and relax the nerves. Anxiety comes in different forms, from mild to chronic, speak to your natural practitioner to see if Kava is a good option for you.

    Kava Relaxes Your Muscles

Kava can help reduce muscle tension
Kava can help reduce muscle tension

Whereas alcohol makes you feel numb through sedation, including your brain thus promoting sleep, kava eases muscle tension to promote relaxation and sleep. This makes it ideal to take or drink when you want to unwind, loosen up, rest, take a break and take it easy on life. This makes Kava for anxiety ideal to use for most people.

    Kava and Reverse Tolerance

A Closer Look at Kava and Reverse Tolerance
A Closer Look at Kava and Reverse Tolerance

Kava has an interesting effect on the body known as reverse tolerance. It is well known that alcohol drinking on a regular basis will cause your body to become tolerant and one will have to drink more to get the same effect. The first time someone drinks alcohol, they will feel its effects if enough is drank but this may not be the case for kava. Many report that the first time they had a traditional kava shell or session(2-4 shells) they did not notice anything special, or very little effect. Kava drinkers seem to have an acquired taste and also have acquired receptors to assimilate the different kavalactones responsible for its effects. So, if for some reason a first comer to kava does not feel its effects, it is suggested to try again the next day while they let their brains create a pathway to accept and process the kavalactones. It is known as reverse tolerance and is very normal. So if it at first you don't succeed, try again. People that drink kava daily say that they do not need to increase their quantities of kava intake in order to get the same effect.

Dangers of Drinking Alcohol and Kava

Combining alcohol and kava is not a responsible choice. Some herbalists in the USA and other countries are used to making tinctures, and will often include kava in their formulations. The buyer should avoid tinctures that have a high percentage of alcohol. It is suggested that if alcohol is used as a solvent to extract the root, that the alcohol be evaporated completely before use. Research studies confirmed that combining kava with alcohol increases the risk of liver damage. Hence, kava drinkers are advised not to mix kava with alcohol or to wash-down with alcohol after drinking kava. You may be surprised to find that there is usually no alcohol at a kava bar, but this is a responsible decision. In Vanuatu, kava bars are a common traditional place for relaxation and social gathering and there are over 300 kava bars in the capital Port Vila, and none serve alcohol. Vanuatu is known to produce and export some of the best quality noble kava in the world.

What are the Effects of Kava and Alcohol on the Liver?

When kava and alcohol are mixed, the liver is stressed because it uses similar enzymes (CYP 2E1) to metabolize the same substances. The metabolic alleyways inside the liver are strained and toxic liver damage may possibly occur. Moreover, the kavalactones compounds also temporarily affect the performance and operation of other liver enzymes named gamma-glutamyl transferase and alkaline phosphatase for processing alcohol. Thus, this adds to the strain on the liver which can also result in hepatotoxicity if alcohol and kava is combined.

It must be noted however that liver damage is primarily caused by the alcohol. Studies that link kava with liver damage used commercial kava extracts that also included alcohol (or ethanol) in their solvent bases. Meanwhile, studies that involve pure kava showed no link with liver damage. Thus, drinking kava alone in a water suspension does not cause liver damage. However, drinking kava and alcohol together intensifies the ability for the alcohol to damage the liver.

Aside from increasing the potential for liver damage, combining alcohol and kava increases the sedative effect and cognitive impairment caused by alcohol. This means, drinking alcohol and kava could cause a person quickly become inebriated. And, instead of improving mind clarity when kava is used alone, a person would have difficulty remembering, concentrating or making rational decisions when under the influence. Thus, it is strongly advised to not mix kava with alcohol.

Liver Damage from Alcohol Usage

There are a lot of effects of alcohol usage on the human liver. We are going to be having a look at some of these conditions. This is proof that alcohol has negative effects on the human body. Take a look:

    Swelling of the liver:

This condition is called Alcoholic Hepatitis. It happens from extended alcohol consumption. It can lead to a bloated liver and can also cause liver failure which could be fatal if not managed on time.

    Fat around the liver:

The overuse of alcohol leads to an unhealthy build-up of fat around the liver. This limits the ability of the liver to perform its functions.

    Damaged liver:

This is also caused by an overuse of alcoholic substances. It leads to the permanent damage of the liver. In this case, the liver needs to be replaced. If there is no transplant available, then the condition is fatal.

With this evidence outlining the negative effects of alcohol, one should maybe consider switching to kava sooner rather than later.

Other Adverse Interactions of Kava

Kava could interact with any medication and should never be mixed together
Kava could interact with any medication and should never be mixed together

Aside from alcohol, kava showed unfavorable interactions with certain types of drugs. Hence, a person should take notes if they are taking any of these drugs and are planning to drink kava. It is advised to speak to your doctor or natural practitioner before taking any herbal products, including kava.

    1. Anxiolytics or Sedative medications

CNS depressants and similar drugs that cause sleepiness and drowsiness such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates can be intensified by Kava. Thus, it is not advised to drink kava when you are taking these drugs because it may result to extreme sleepiness.

    2. Levodopa and kava

This drug raises dopamine levels in the brain which is used to treat patients with Parkinson disease. Taking kava with Levodopa decreases the latter's effectiveness by wearing off the therapeutic effect of the drug quickly.

    3. Drugs metabolized by CYP450 in the liver

Drugs like amitriptyline, cyclophosphamide lansoprazole, and phenobarbital, among others, will be difficult to be cleansed by the liver when combined with kava thereby potentially increasing the side effects of these medications.

    4. Mixing other drugs with kava

Drugs for mental and nervous disorders such as anticonvulsants and antipsychotics can increase its side effects as kava disrupts the enzymes in the liver that cleanse these types of drugs. Also, diuretics or drugs for increasing waste expelled from the body may become in effective when combined with kava because Kava can disrupt the enzymes in the liver as well.

Warnings about possible negative effects of Kava

    Too much of a good thing can result in consequences. Too much sun could burn, too much coffee could make you jitter, even drinking too much water too fast could have consequences, and its the same with kava. It's important to do things in moderation so the body has time to assimilate what it comes in contact with.

    Kava dermopathy

Long term and excessive consumption of Kava can result to a skin condition known as kava dermopathy. Kava dermopathy is identified by dry, peeling and yellowing of the skin in palm of the hands and soles of the feet. This effect of kava is attributed to its disruption with cholesterol metabolism. However, this skin condition is not deadly and is easily treatable by simply refraining from drinking kava.

    Other health effects

Heavy consumption of kava can also result in weight loss, nausea, heart problems, and loss of appetite, loss of sex drive, eye irritation and indigestion. These ill health effects are revocable simply by termination of kava consumption.

In conclusion, it has been generally recommended that kava consumption should be done in moderation. Upon moderate consumption, its benefits have been proven from its long history of use. Modern research has also indicated its health risk when combined with certain substances.


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