Kava & Reverse Tolerance

One of the questions we get asked most frequently at Kava Time is:

“How long does it take for the kava to work?”

And another is:

“How much kava do I have to take to experience its relaxing effects?”

The answer to both of these questions is: “It depends…

But it’s not just dependent upon the nature of the kava; or even on its kavalactone content, its preparation, or your personal body chemistry.

It also depends on how long you’ve been taking kava. This is due to a phenomenon known as ‘reverse tolerance’.

What is reverse tolerance?

In the case of many substances with active ingredients – like alcohol, for instance – people tend to build up a tolerance; so the more they drink, the more they become immune to its effects over time.

With kava, the reverse is true. When you first start taking kava, it may take more time to feel the effects than for someone who has been taking it for years. It’s like you need to become ‘sensitised’ to kava before it starts working – a type of ‘break-in’ period.

It’s not known exactly why this is, but it is theorised that some people need a certain level of kavalactone build-up in the body to feel the full effects of kava.

If you start with a small amount, as most people understandably do, then the relaxing effects of kava may not register. In fact you may feel very little the first few times you take it.

If you are patient, and gradually take more over time, you will get more benefit out of your kava. You are likely to experience the effects sooner after taking it and, while you will be more familiar with the taste and the effects, this means you will need less to trigger the pleasurable relaxing effects.

Ultimately, you will only know how much kava you need to experience the desired effects after taking it for a while.

Typical guidelines

That said, some general guidelines would probably be useful?

Moderately potent kava will usually produce an effect within 20–30 minutes and should last for 2-3 hours.

That’s about it for generalisations though – you really need to find your own ‘level’ with kava. Reverse tolerance may take a couple of weeks to a month or more to overcome.

Persevere with it – and space out your kava servings until you are familiar with its effects. That way you can take a serving of kava and get the predictable, relaxing benefits at the time of day when it suits you best.

Review of Kava Time Taveuni's Lawena by Kavasseur

The Kavasseur has done a review of our Taveuni's Lawena. Watch it here! 


Fiji's Kava Culture

According to legend, the word “yaqona” (pronounced yang-GO-na) was derived from the Fijian god Degei, whose name means “from heaven to the soil and through the Earth.” He had three sons, all of whom he had given two sacred crops, vuga (a type of tree) and yaqona, so that they could receive wisdom from them. In turn, the sons gave them to their other people, and the legend states that to this day, the crops grow wherever Fijian descendents reside.

Today, yaqona (or kava) drinking is still a traditional and regular part of Fijian life and culture. This drink is made from the pulverized root of Piper methysticum, which is a plant from the pepper family. Those who have never tried the drink may have to adjust to the taste, though it is not unpleasant, either. It is tingly and numbing on the tongue and is very relaxing, though local healers have also used it to cure diseases and conditions ranging from tooth decay to gonorrhea to respiratory illnesses.

The beverage, which contains no alcohol, brings a calming effect to the drinker, but it is not a depressant. Fijians drink it, particularly on weekends, for socializing as well as for settling arguments and making peace, casting magical spells, making business deals and social contracts, laying the foundations of homes, welcoming newcomers and visitors, sending village members on journeys and when christening boats.

Kava is also used as a traditional gift that guests will give to their hosts or other high-ranking visitors during official ceremonies as a gesture of respect. During this event, people sit on the floor, surrounding a large wooden bowl filled with the yaqona beverage and drink the muddy brown-colored liquid from half of a coconut shell. Singing and instrument-playing, particularly playing songs on guitars, can also be involved.

In Fijian villages, yaqona drinking is mostly done by men, but women will gather in the kitchen every now and then to drink amongst themselves. On some occasions, though, older women may join the normally all-male group. They will usually offer a female visitor a bowl of the drink with no problem, though unless she is of a higher rank, the men are generally given a bowl first. However, in some Fijian cities, both men and women can take bowls and drink together.

Fijians believe that yaqona drinking is the super glue that binds its people and society together, as people can take part in this very social event and can chat and feel acceptance amongst complete strangers, the same way one would feel with close friends and family. Since the time the first Europeans arrived in Fiji, yaqona drinking was and still is a very important Fijian tradition that brings people together.

The meaning behind the word "BULA"

Bula, like the Italian prego or the Hawaiian aloha, is a word in the Fijian language that is now imbued with a variety of meanings, each of which depend on the given the situation. The word (pronounced as boolah) literally means “life” and is most commonly used as a greeting, meaning “hello!” Using bula in this way is to express wishes for one’s good health; the full saying is “Ni sa bula vinaka,” (pronounced as nee-sahm-bula-veenaka) which equates to “wishing you happiness and good health.” An appropriate response to bula in this context is “Bula vinaka.”  The word is also used as a blessing when someone sneezes.

Many resorts will great new guests by playing “Bula Malaya,” an emphatic song of welcome that embodies the connotation of warmth and island hospitality that is palpable in the word’s usage.The word bula so successfully captures a feeling of affection and welcome that the Fiji Visitors Bureau along with the help of the Tourist Action Group (TAG) used it in a 2007 campaign called “Bula Spirit.” The following description of the theme “Bula Spirit” was given at the campaign’s launch: “A commitment to make that extra effort to ensure that the visitor enjoys the very best in hospitality, warm thoughtful service and the kindness that has made Fiji special among destinations in the world.”

Bula Spirit

The “Bula Spirit” intention is to promote a high level of customer service in Fiji. TAG and the Government of Fiji see this as an important initiative to help promote tourism during a time when the nation’s reputation risks being tarnished by the effects of a recent military coup and an economic crisis. TAG Chairman Damend Gounder said in 2007 that the organization had conducted several trainings throughout Nadi, Suva, the Coral Coast, as well as the Yasawas and Mamanucas islands to help spread the spirit of bula. The goal of the campaign, he said, is that “when the tourists come in, despite what has happened here, the delivery of service [should be] beyond the extraordinary.”  Fans of the show “Survivor” might recall the word bula from the “Survivor: Fiji” season. When the members of the tribes Moto and Ravu were merged into one group in episode nine, the new tribe took the name Bula, Bula, adding, perhaps, the concept of “unity” as another hue of meaning to the word bula.

Review of Kava Time Gourmet Savusavu Waka by Kavassuer

We just received a review from a very well known kavaholic in the US Kava industry who goes by the name of Kavassuer. Be sure to check it out at https://kavasseur.com/2016/09/05/kava-time-savusavu-waka/

Kava: Elixir of the Pacific

We think this is an interesting read to provide insight on the consumption of Kava in New Zealand

To read more visit https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/kava-elixir-of-the-pacific/

Kava at the Olympics

After winning their first ever medal at the Olympics, and that too GOLD! The Rugby 7s team of Fiji celebrated their victory by having a mini kava session at the stadium grounds!

Way to go Fiji! There was a public holiday declared in Fiji on 22nd August on the return of the gold medalists and the country still continues to celebrate at a regional level where the fans get to meet their National Heroes in different towns.

Fiji was ranked as the number one searched term on google when the history was made. People are going crazy over twitter with the tag #tosoviti

Meanwhile the Turaga Na Vunivalu- of- Serua has gifted the outgoing gold medal winning Fiji 7’s coach, Ben Ryan three acres of land. This is a token of appreciation of the Province of Serua after Ryan declared that he is from Serua.

He has also adopted in the chiefly family of the Turaga Na Vunivalu and will be called Ratu Peni Raiyani Latianara.