Kava... Natures Xanax 🧠
Learn about the benefits of this Pacific Island Ceremonial Root (8min Read)
What is Kava?
The Neuroscience of Kava
Benefits of Kava
What does the research say?
How to get it?
Leilo Discount Code: MBBLIVE
Today we’re talking about Kava! This little root, sometimes called Natures Xanax, could change your life, I’m excited to share the Neuroscience behind it.
Kava has been shown to have anti-anxiety effects, anti-cancer effects, reduce inflammation, help with insomnia, pain-relieving effects, and much more.
I was introduced to Kava by a company called Leilo. I had heard about its benefits and uses in the Pacific Islands, but had no idea it’d made it to the USA until now.
Today you’ll learn what it is, and even get to try it out if you’d like! Let’s dive in.
What is Kava?
The scientific name of the plant it comes from is Piper methysticum, which is a member of the same pepper family as black pepper!
It is a native plant found in the South Pacific and has been used in Hawaii & Fiji for thousands of years.
Traditionally, Pacific Islanders crushed, chewed, and ground the root and then soaked it in cold water to produce a drink for ceremonies and cultural practices.
If you’re wondering what this traditional drink tastes like, don’t, because it tastes just like dirt…
This is one of the reasons I was blown away by Leilo because their drinks taste amazing. Even the sugar-free options are delicious.
Taste is not the main attraction of Kava, however, its benefits are.
The Neuroscience of Kava
Before we get too deep into the benefits, let’s talk about how Kava affects the brain & body.
The chemicals that produce the beneficial effects of Kava are called Kavalactones.
The 6 main Kavalactones are:
Each of these affects the brain & Nervous System differently.
Desmethoxyyangonin has been shown to increase the Neurotransmitter dopamine, the feel-good chemical.
Increasing dopamine helps improve issues like stress, anxiety, functional depression, sleep, and many others.
Dihydrokavain has been shown to increase levels of the neurotransmitter GABA.
GABA’s main role is to relax our brain & Nervous System, and increasing it produces anti-anxiety & anti-inflammation effects.
Yangonin & Kavain calm the Nervous System by increasing dopamine & GABA, but they also have neuroprotective & neuromodulatory effects as well, specifically helping decrease neurotoxicity.
Finally, Dihydromethysticin & Methysticin have been shown to have antifungal, antiepileptic/anticonvulsant, neuroprotective, anticancer, and chemopreventive activities.
Kavalactones have also been shown to increase the neurotransmitter Seratonin. Which helps regulate things like mood, sleep, digestion, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting, and sexual desire.
The Benefits & Research
The most cited benefit of kava is its anti-anxiety effects, hence the name “Natures Xanax.”
In many major scientific reviews of kava, it has been shown to have significant anti-anxiety activity and is superior to placebo for treating anxiety.
The researchers also reported no clinically significant changes to liver enzyme levels and that kava appears to be as effective at treating anxiety as popular prescriptions.
Unlike prescription drugs for anxiety, kava does not appear to interfere with mental alertness, upset the stomach, or foster dependency.
In fact, kava has been shown to have a reverse tolerance effect. This means the more you take, the less you need in the future to get the same effect.
Kava has been shown to have mild anti-depressant properties, making it suitable for the treatment of anxiety associated with depression, most importantly, without the negative side effects of prescribed anti-depressants.
It is a useful treatment for Insomnia by improving the quality of sleep, reducing active wakefulness, and prolonging sleep, compared with a placebo.
This was one of the first ways I used kava by trying Leilo Luna, which is Leilo’s newest kava drink for helping you sleep better!
Not only is it as effective as prescription drugs, but it’s also been shown to improve overall well-being during benzodiazepine withdrawal, according to a 2001 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Benzo withdrawl is notorious for being terrible, and even deadly if not done the correct way.
Please be sure to consult a doctor before trying to quit taking any medication, especially a Benzo.
Yes, you read that right, anti-cancer benefits. I’ve linked tons of research on this, but one of the papers that stuck out the most was a study in the South Pacific.
In this study, they compare cancer rates, and kava consumption rates, and the data suggests there is a close inverse relationship between cancer incidence and kava consumption.
The craziest part about this is that tobacco consumption rates in the South Pacific are very high, and they still saw this inverse relationship between kava & cancer!
Other studies on mice have shown kava can help protect against prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and urothelial cell cancer as well!
Kava has also been shown to aid in pain relief and doesn’t act on opiate receptors.
It acts as a muscle relaxer and helps with conditions associated with muscle spasms, neck tension, and headaches.
Kava has been shown to boost the immune system, and have an overall anti-inflammatory effect on the body & brain.
The most “cited” adverse effect of kava is liver damage which lead to it being banned in multiple countries in the early 2000s, however, this claim was backed by terrible research…
Today, we know the risk of liver damage is less than a full percentage, .003, and this is only with chronic, heavy usage of high doses of kava or while taking kava with alcohol.
The most common possible side effects are indigestion, mouth numbness, rash, headache, drowsiness, and visual disturbances.
If you are planning to drive or operate heavy machinery, don’t drink kava.
As always, if you’re concerned about trying kava, ask your doctor first!
Where to Get Kava
Leilo is my go-to for anything kava related. If you’d like to try some, they’ve given me permission to give you our discount code so you can try kava for yourself!
Use the code: MBBLIVE to get the discount.
I suggest the variety pack so you can try all of their flavors, my favorite is the Raspberry Hibiscus personally!
As I mentioned before, Leilo Luna is my other favorite for helping with sleep.
They got some sales going on right now as well, so if you’d like to test out the benefits of kava for yourself, there’s never been a better time!
I hope you try it out. Thank you so much for tuning in to this week’s Heroes Digest, I hope it serves you well!
Until next time… Live Heroically 🧠
Research Citations for Today’s Heroes Digest
Sarris J, Kavanagh DJ, Byrne G, Bone KM, Adams J, Deed G. The Kava Anxiety Depression Spectrum Study (KADSS): a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial using an aqueous extract of Piper methysticum. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009 Aug;205(3):399-407. doi: 10.1007/s00213-009-1549-9. Epub 2009 May 9. PMID: 19430766.
Yurcheshen M, Seehuus M, Pigeon W. Updates on Nutraceutical Sleep Therapeutics and Investigational Research. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:105256. doi: 10.1155/2015/105256. Epub 2015 Jul 21. PMID: 26265921; PMCID: PMC4523676.
Wheatley D. Kava and valerian in the treatment of stress-induced insomnia. Phytother Res. 2001 Sep;15(6):549-51. doi: 10.1002/ptr.840. PMID: 11536390.
Pittler MH, Ernst E. Efficacy of kava extract for treating anxiety: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2000 Feb;20(1):84-9. doi: 10.1097/00004714-200002000-00014. PMID: 10653213.
Malsch U, Kieser M. Efficacy of kava-kava in the treatment of non-psychotic anxiety, following pretreatment with benzodiazepines. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001 Sep;157(3):277-83. doi: 10.1007/s002130100792. PMID: 11605083.
Kormann EC, Amaral Pde A, David M, Eifler-Lima VL, Cechinel Filho V, Campos Buzzi F. Kavain analogues as potential analgesic agents. Pharmacol Rep. 2012;64(6):1419-26. doi: 10.1016/s1734-1140(12)70939-8. PMID: 23406752.
Kwon, D., Ju, S. M., Youn, G. S., Choi, S. Y., & Park, J. (2013). Suppression of iNOS and COX-2 expression by flavokawain A via blockade of NF-κB and AP-1 activation in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 58, 479-486. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2013.05.031
Abu N, Mohameda NE, Tangarajoo N, Yeap SK, Akhtar MN, Abdullah MP, Omar AR, Alitheen NB. In vitro Toxicity and in vivo Immunomodulatory Effects of Flavokawain A and Flavokawain B in Balb/C Mice. Nat Prod Commun. 2015 Jul;10(7):1199-202. PMID: 26411010.
Steiner GG. The correlation between cancer incidence and kava consumption. Hawaii Med J. 2000 Nov;59(11):420-2. PMID: 11149250.
Abu, N., Ho, W.Y., Yeap, S.K. et al. The flavokawains: uprising medicinal chalcones. Cancer Cell Int 13, 102 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2867-13-102
Li X, Yokoyama NN, Zhang S, Ding L, Liu HM, Lilly MB, Mercola D, Zi X. Flavokawain A induces deNEDDylation and Skp2 degradation leading to inhibition of tumorigenesis and cancer progression in the TRAMP transgenic mouse model. Oncotarget. 2015 Dec 8;6(39):41809-24. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.6166. PMID: 26497688; PMCID: PMC4747190.
Abu N, Mohamed NE, Yeap SK, Lim KL, Akhtar MN, Zulfadli AJ, Kee BB, Abdullah MP, Omar AR, Alitheen NB. In Vivo Anti-Tumor Effects of Flavokawain A in 4T1 Breast Cancer Cell-Challenged Mice. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2015;15(7):905-15. doi: 10.2174/187152061507150713111557. PMID: 26179368.
Bian T, Corral P, Wang Y, Botello J, Kingston R, Daniels T, Salloum RG, Johnston E, Huo Z, Lu J, Liu AC, Xing C. Kava as a Clinical Nutrient: Promises and Challenges. Nutrients. 2020 Oct 5;12(10):3044. doi: 10.3390/nu12103044. PMID: 33027883; PMCID: PMC7600512.
World Health Organization. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Kava: A review of the safety of traditional and recreational beverage consumption: Technical Report.