Natural Connectors: Be at One

Kava Beverage Recipes
If you are interested in preparing kava beverages from powder, two simple methods are described below: the water method and the emulsion method. Some of the resins in the root are extracted using just water. Others, which are not water soluble, need to be emulsified. The emulsion method should release more kavalactones.

Kava was traditionally ground and drunk fresh. In Fiji, dried kava – a result of commercialization – is known as "dead" kava, since it loses its potency with grinding. Freeze-drying the resinous, milklike, non-water-soluble emulsion will preserve its freshness. Do not store the liquid, since, like milk it is an environment for bacterial growth.

Remember: the powder extraction process is messy, has its own distinctive strong smell, and takes a little practice to master.

Water Method
1 cup kava powder
4 cups water

Wrap kava powder loosely in a piece of cloth. Holding the edges of the cloth loosely above the ball of kava, plunge the kava up and down in the water, stopping occasionally to squeeze out the kava ball. Continue plunging it up and down until the water is a "coffee-and-cream" color. (This should take 5-15 minutes.) Drink!

Emulsion Method
1 cup kava powder
4 cups water
6 tablespoons vegetable (olive or canola)
2 tablespoons liquid lecithin

Blend all ingredients together in a blender at top speed for 5 minutes, until the liquid is a "coffee-and-cream" color. Strain the liquid through a fiber filter. Since straining can take time (and patience), you may want to use something fairly loose, like cheesecloth. Eventually, all the liquid will drain out, leaving the solid ingredients in a ball in your strainer or cloth, and a bowl of suspicious-smelling liquid. Once this happens, you can throw away the solid mass. Enjoy!

Kava Colada
1 tray pineapple juice ice cubes
1 6-oz. to 8-oz. can coconut milk
1 fl oz kava extract
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend all ingredients in a blender at high speed until smooth. One or two of these smoothies will take your min doff worries; stimulate thoughtful, authentic communication; and leave you feeling benevolent toward the world.

Yield: 6 servings
(Adapted from Christ Kilham's book Psyche Delicacies.)

Start low and work your way up. Kava is most potent when consumed on an empty stomach. The danger of too much? You fall asleep and miss the whole experience. However, you will likely sleep deeply and well, and awake refreshed, with no hangover.

Those who do experience a hangover from kava should pay attention to their liver function, since it may indicate the liver's inability to fully break down the kavalactones. If this happens, take 200 mg of milk thistle (70 percent standardized) two to three times daily for a month or more to help support liver function. And have your liver status checked out by a health-care practitioner.

Kava definitely affects consciousness and thinking. In studies, memory actually seems to be enhanced. Perception is a bit heightened, and so is sensitivity to stimuli such as noises or bright lights. You're not likely to experience a loss of mental sharpness with kava, as you do with alcohol. (In some studies, kava actually enhanced mental sharpness.) But don't be fooled. Kava can deeply relax muscles, almost to the point of numbness. You can still function, but your coordination is impaired.

Definitely do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or care for young children under the too-relaxing influence of kava. Other than this, there appears to be no downside to using kava as a connector.

How it works: Appears to enhance GABA activity, the relaxing neurotransmitter that also modulates dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. (There is still much that is unknown about its effects on the brain.)

Positive effects: Heightens sensory perception, relaxation, well-being, connection, and empathy; effective antianxiety agent; promtoes good sleep; muscle relaxant.

Cautions: Do not drive or operate heavy machinery after use; do not mix with alcohol, as the two substances seem to potentiate each other; do not take while using benzodiazepine tranquilizers. As with all herbs, do not take during pregnancy or while nursing.

Dosage: As a relaxant, 60-75 mg of kavalactones two to three times daily; as a connector, take 60-250 mg.

Next: Sceletium >>

From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright © Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.

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