What are the relative effects of kava and alcohol on the human body?
In terms of usage they are both social drinks, but alcohol is a super-heavyweight around the world and kava just a flyweight. The short and long-term effects on the body are very different too.
EFFECTS OF ALCOHOLIC DRINKS
Alcohol is used socially because it can temporarily improve mood and produce sensations of euphoria; it can act as a social “lubricant” whereby people lose their inhibitions or shyness.
This can also create situations that are potentially aggressive, because people often become more bold when they have had a few drinks. We have all seen that on a Friday night out in the city!
Physical effects include a reduction in attention span and reaction times (which is why it’s illegal to drive with a high blood-alcohol reading) and, in more extreme cases, a loss of memory or comprehension.
There are some reports suggesting that alcohol such as red wine, when used in moderation can be beneficial for health.
But it can also cause problems with loss of balance and, in large quantities, can cause vomiting or complete loss of consciousness.
Frequent and long-term usage can lead to problems with liver damage, including hepatitis and cirrhosis. In fact alcohol-related disease accounts for high numbers of deaths globally.
The after-effects of alcohol consumption can be quite severe with the traditional “hangovers” caused by dehydration; headache, fever, vomiting and other stomach upsets are quite common after-effects of drinking excess alcohol.
Some potentially adverse social effects include the risk of addiction and associated relationship and family problems.
EFFECTS OF KAVA (TRADITIONALLY-PREPARED)
We will focus on the traditionally-prepared kava that Fijians and other Pacific islanders have been drinking for centuries rather than other modern versions on the shelves out there.
When drank in the traditional way, kava produces a mild calming and relaxing effect that helps bonding in social situations and family get-togethers. It may also provide mental clarity and patience, according to some drinkers.
The kavalactones present in kava root are a known short-term reliever of stress and this active ingredient gives the drink its well-known place as an “ice breaker”; kava ceremonies are a traditional greeting for guests and kava presentations from visitors are used as a traditional gift for hosts.
Physically, you will feel numbness of the lips and tongue after drinking. In larger amounts you may experience pupil dilation and bloodshot eyes, and possibly a loss of appetite; but it is unlikely you will ever drink enough kava to produce this effect.
The effects of kava will usually start after 20 minutes and last up to 2 hours but, unlike with alcohol, even prolonged usage produces no tendency to become aggressive and nor does it result in a hangover. There is also no addictive quality to kava.
You can judge for yourself whether drinking alcohol or drinking kava is more beneficial to your body.
Did you know that Fiji Kava has a long history and tradition behind it, going back thousands of years?
While kava supplements may be the next ‘big thing’ in the relaxation beverages market, this is most definitely not news to the elders of Fiji who have been drinking kava for many, many years.
Here we look at some traditional occasions where the kava bowl is brought out, the kava prepared and the coconut shell passed around.
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Hard to get over the taste of kava? Find out our 6 great kava recipes to improve the anxiety relief experience and also some insider tips to kava preparation!