About Kava

What is Kava?

The kava plant (Piper methysticum – “intoxicating pepper”) is a hardy, relatively slow growing shrub with heart shaped leaves closely related to the black pepper tree (hence its peppery taste). Kava has been consumed for social, cultural, medicinal and political reasons for millennia. 

Originally from the islands of the South Pacific, kava has become popular around the world. It’s valued for its ability to promote relaxation without diminishing judgement or mental clarity.

While some drink it for a relief from stress, anxiety or insomnia, most consume it for recreational or social purposes. For many users, kava is a pleasant, slightly stimulating drink that relieves fatigue, relaxes the body after hard work or effort, clarifies the mind and brings a sense of well-being. When consumed alone, kava promotes peaceful contemplation. When shared with with family and friends, kava can induce meaningful conversation, peaceful exchanges and cooperation.

Why Vanuatu Kava?

Kava farmers have been growing and selecting kava for various ceremonial and medicinal purposes since the so-called “Lapita” people first arrived in Vanuatu around 3,500 years ago. Combine this with the fact Vanuatu has developed into one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, and you have a recipe for creating more kava cultivars than anywhere else on earth. 
Vanuatu has more varieties of kava than anywhere else in the world (at last count 200+). The Vanuatu Kava Act restricts the export of kava to noble varieties only (unless specifically requested by a buyer for non-drinking/medicinal purposes). And although all kava exported from Vanuatu has to meet strict biosecurity requirements, the product can vary dramatically in quality depending on how it’s processed, how old the kava is and what variety of kava is used.

What's so Noble about it?

Vanuatu drinking kava comes in two types, ignoble kava and noble kava. Ignoble can make you feel nauseous and dizzy and cause a nasty “kava hangover” (lethargy, sleepiness and mental fog). On the other hand, noble strains of Vanuatu kava elevate your mood and make you feel happy, their kavalactones are metabolised quickly and there are no long lasting effects. As our name suggests, Vanuatu Noble Kava only use 100% noble kava in our kava powder. Each batch of kava is lab tested and approved and its origin certified.

What is it used for?

Kava is not brewed, fermented or distilled like alcohol, it’s a natural “feel good” health drink that’s been used in the South Pacific islands for thousands of years, both as a ceremonial/social beverage and as a herbal remedy to treat health issues like pain relief, insomnia and anxiety. Kava dampens down the central nervous system and takes the edge off a stressful day.

How does it work?

Kavalactones are the primary psychoactive compounds in kava. They’re what give it its kick and contribute to its unique medicinal properties. The vast majority of kavalactones are concentrated in the roots of the kava plant. Vanuatu kava has some of the highest kavalactone content in the world. Vanuatu Noble Kava only use mature, green Vanuatu kava plants rich in kavalactones. Our unique production process locks in the flavour and the freshness without sacrificing the kavalactone content.

Fun Facts


Kavalactones work through the same pathway as alcohol (via GABA receptors) but in a slightly different way so they don’t give you a hangover and they don’t mess with your cognition (ie. your head stays clear!)

Kavalactones increase the ‘feel good” chemicals in your brain (dopamine and serotonin) while decreasing the “anxiety/stress” chemicals (adrenaline and epinephrine) leaving you feeling relaxed and euphoric at the same time.
Kavalactones create a full body/brain relaxation experience; aiding in the relief of stress and anxiety without any nasty side effects.
Kavalactones bind to pain (opioid) receptors, inhibit COX enzymes (targeted by ibuprofen) and block sodium channels so they decrease inflammation and provide instant relief for chronic and general pain.

Kavalactones affect motor and coordination systems in the body so your muscles relax, giving you the same chilled buzz you feel after a few beers. It calms spasming muscles and controls convulsions. Just don’t drink too much or your legs may stop working!