Before people try Kava for the first time, most of them are curious about the kava effects. These range from concern about any possible negative kava effects (or even long term effects that the imbiber should be aware of) to a curiosity about exactly what they’re going to feel when they first try Kava.
Here are some common Kava effects:
Upon first tasting Kava, the first thing you’ll notice is that it tastes earthy. Most will describe this as tasting “like dirt.” It is not a strong taste — but the potency is sufficient that most people don’t particularly enjoy the taste. Many, however, state that they also don’t mind the taste. This is the first of the kava effects you should be aware of: It tastes strange, and clears your taste palette (in much the same way that wine or coffee do).
After continuing to imbibe Kava, be aware of the second of the kava effects — minor numbness of the lips and tongue. This is not sufficient to “block any feeling” in the lips and tongue, but it does mute feeling in these areas. The numbness is brief, wearing off quickly.
The third of the effects is physical relaxation. The body of the drinker will gradually relax as he continues to drink, releasing muscle tension all over their body. This is one of the main effects that is sought in drinking Kava.
As you begin to get this kava effect, you may experience a “lag effect” in your sight — meaning that when you quickly look at a different object (for example, looking at the person on your left, then quickly looking at the person on your right) your vision may seem to “take a second” to catch up. Not all people who imbibe Kava have this effect.
The fourth of the kava effects is mental relaxation. As the body of the drinker relaxes, so does the mind. This mental relaxation releases stress and worry, and effectively counters most forms of anxiety. In some countries, this major aspect of the kava effects is seen as medicinally proven, and kava is prescribed for anti-anxiety purposes.
The fifth of the kava effects is drowsiness. It is not recommended that you drive while under the influence of kava, as it is the equivalent of driving while sleep deprived. Most drinkers of kava enjoy the drowsiness as one of the kava effects, as the sleep you get after is very restful. In some countries, kava is medicinally proven as a solution for insomnia. In most countries, it is one of the main homeopathic remedies for insomnia.
The sixth of the effects is euphoria. This is not something that first time drinkers are likely to experience, but after repeated use, the build-up of “kavalactones” (the active ingredient that causes these various kava effects) can give a general euphoria while you’re drinking.
The seventh of the kava effects is detoxification. Kava is a detoxifier, and can help cleanse the body of harmful substances. I’m not saying this is an antidote for poison, but it can help clear out some of the other harmful things you’re taking into your body!
The eighth of the effects is lasting relaxation. Some imbibers of kava report that their relaxation, resistance to anxiety, and general level of peace is significantly better after imbibing kava. Different users report different durations for this effects — from a few hours after imbibing, on to a few days (or in rare cases, weeks).
Some people are wary about kava because of rumors of negative kava effects. Here is the simple and blunt reality — if the people who are preparing the kava or kava powder don’t know what they’re doing, you need to be worried! If the preparer uses the stems and leaves of the kava plant, rather than just using the kava root, then there is a toxic effect which can severely damage your liver (especially with extended use)!
The moral of the story is that the kava effects are wonderful, but you need to be sure you trust your kava source.