Can you eat kava powder?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat kava powder?”. We will also elaborate on the taste of kava powder, different recipes in which kava powder is used, preparation of kava powder, and advantages of kava powder. 

Can you eat kava powder?

Yes, we can eat kava powder. There is no harm in taking kava powder. Kava can be taken in multiple forms like in the form of tea, powder, and liquid form. 

Kava powder is manufactured from a concentrated mixture. This mixture is prepared by taking kavalactones that are extracted from the root of the plant by using ethanol or acetone. Kava is a perennial shrub from the Piperaceae (pepper) family which is native to the ethnogeographic regions of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia (2).

At least 70% of the population of the developing world directly rely on traditional medicine for primary health care. Equally, the industrialized nations indirectly rely on medicinal plants for their pharmaceutical products. An estimated 25% of modern pharmacopeia and 18% of 150 top prescription drugs are plant-based. China and India are two major international players from Asia in this regard. Asian medicinal plants account for about 50% of export quantity and 45% of global earnings from traditional medicines. They are utilized at the household level and for commerce (1).

The taste of kava powder

The taste of kava powder is like a powder that has both a bitter and spicy taste. According to some people, kava powder tastes like mud and dirt. 

Kava powder has some active ingredients which can create a distinct numbing sensation in the mouth. When chewed, kava root reportedly numbs the mouth (3).

The nutritional content of kava powder

Following are some nutrients that can be obtained by using kava powder (2,4).

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • amino acids

How to Prepare Kava Powder

Following are two different methods to prepare kava powder:

  • Traditional method: In this method, we will use a cloth filter with the powder. Then it will be mixed into a large bowl of water by hand. The preparation time for this method is about ten to fifteen minutes. But this method is not very fast.
  • Fast method: In order to prepare kava powder fastly two ways can opt. We can use either an AluBall kava maker or a blender. Blender is preferred when larger kava batches need to be prepared. 

But If you just want a quick cup of kava or are taking your kava with you on your way to the park for a picnic, the AluBall is hard to beat.

Different recipes in which kava powder is used

Following are some recipes in which kava powder can be used as an ingredient

  • Kava power energy balls: After combining all the ingredients in a bowl, we will make nut butter and oats as a base, then all the add-ins, ending with the powder, honey, and melted oil. All the ingredients are stirred carefully and are evenly mixed. 

After these are mixed properly the mixture is rolled into balls. It will be much better if we use a baking sheet with parchment to place them on. 

This must be put into the fridge for almost twenty to thirty minutes so that it becomes hard. It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and can be used for up to one week.

  • Kava tea: after heating water at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, water and kava root are added to a regular blender. These must be blended for about four minutes. We must not let the water boil otherwise it can make the liquid congeal and we will face straining issues. 

High-speed blenders can be used as these are much powerful and have the capability to keep water hot for a long time. A muslin nut milk bag or mesh strainer that has been lined with cheesecloth is used to pour the liquid.

  • Kava root cocktail with ginger ice cubes: In the first step, one cup of ginger is sliced. Then it will be boiled in six cups of water for about an hour. After boiling we will cool it and strain it. Once these are cooled, they will be frozen to cubes. 

Once we get these cubes, just add a serving of kava root extract to a couple of ounces of juice and a squeeze of lime in a cocktail glass. Stir, top off with Pellegrino sparkling water, and your ginger cube.

The benefits of kava powder

Kava powder is very beneficial for health. Following are some benefits that can be availed by using kava powder

  • Anti-anxiety effect: Primary benefit of kava powder is that it helps to relieve anxiety. Like other medicines which are used to release stress, kava powder doesn’t have any side effects. European and American markets kava is sold in tablet or capsule form for the treatment of anxiety disorders (2).

A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of kava-kava for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder was performed in April 2013. Importantly, GABA (the major neurotransmitter that exerts inhibitory activity in the central nervous system) was analyzed as a potential pharmacogenetic marker of response in this trial, specific GABA transporter polymorphisms appear to potentially modify anxiolytic response to kava-kava, a significant reduction in anxiety was observed in the kava-kava group (5). However, before recommending it, research must be carried out to determine the dosage amount and effectiveness of kava powder.

  • Sleep promoting effects: Kava powder is very useful to promote sleep because it has anxiolytic effects. Due to this reason, this is used as an alternative therapy for sleep disorders. 

Kava consumption has also been reported with improvements in recognition memory tasks and enhanced accuracy and performance in visual attention and working memory tasks. The anxiolytic and antidepressant activities were not associated with safety concerns. Sleep-inducing and improving effects, with increased deep sleep periods and sleep spindle activity, have been reported as well (4).

In studies, when kava-kava extract was administered at a dose of 300 mg/kg, the sleep latency of sleep-disturbed rats was remarkably shortened; no effects were observed on the total duration of wakefulness and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. In general, kava-kava continues to have potential value for the treatment of sleep disorders (5).

But according to research that was carried out in 2015, there is no strong evidence that kava powder can be used in the treatment of sleeping disorders.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Can you eat kava powder?”. We have also elaborated on the taste of kava powder, different recipes in which kava powder is used, preparation of kava powder, and advantages of kava powder. 

References

  1. Astutik, Pretzsch, Ndzifon Kimengsi. Asian Medicinal Plants’ Production and Utilization Potentials: A Review. Sustainability 2019; 11: 5483.
  2. LaPorte, Emma, et al. Neurocognitive effects of kava (Piper methysticum): a systematic review. Human Psychopharmacol Clin Exper, 2011, 26, 102-111.
  3. Humberston, C. L., J. Akhtar, and E. P. Krenzelok. Acute hepatitis induced by kava kava. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol, 2003, 41, 109-113.
  4. Uzomba, N. I., Ajah Obinna, and E. C. Amaralam. Phytochemical And Nutritional Composition Of Piper Methysticum Leaeves. Tetfund Sponsored, 2020, 16.
  5. Shi, Yuan, et al. Herbal insomnia medications that target GABAergic systems: a review of the psychopharmacological evidence. Curr neuropharmacol, 2014, 12, 289-302.