When kava was first being harvested, farmers needed to distinguish between the different varieties. They recognized early on that these different varieties offered different physiological effects. Some strands, such as noble strains, offered a relaxing affect with no side effects.
Other strands, known as ignoble kava, offered a relaxing or mellow feeling but also made a person feel sick. Yet still others offered only negative effects.
People of the South Pacific Islands did not know about kavalactones thousands of years ago. They didn’t realize that these kavalactones were the reason the kava roots produced different effects to the mind and body.
To differentiate between them, farmers gave the best kava the name of Noble Kava. They called the roots that gave negative effects, ignoble kava.
There are many names for both noble and ignoble kava. Noble kava is also known as awa, yaqona or sakau. Names for ignoble kava include tudei or isa.
The rules and regulations are very strict these days about which kava should be sold and which shouldn’t. Tudei is currently prohibited from being sold. But just like any other export that can make a lot of money, people find a way to get it on the market.
Knowing what you are looking for when it comes to purchasing kava is a safe way to avoid an accidental negative reaction. Noble kava provides feelings of ease and relaxation while ignoble kava has negative effects on the user.
What Makes Kava Good or Bad
Kavalactones are the major players in kava. They are different chemotypes and there are six concentrations in each strand of kava. The kavalactones have individual names and concentration levels based on how they make a person feel physically.
They are labeled 1 through 6 and go in order of desmethoxyyangonin (1), dihydrokavain (2), yangonin (3), kavain (4), dihydromethysticin (5) and methysticin (6). When buying kava, it is these concentrations you want to look for to determine if you are getting noble or ignoble kava.
The best kava has dihydrokavain and kavain as the first two concentration levels. Their chemotypes start with 2 or 4.
This lets you know the kava you are drinking will give the desirable effects, those that are pleasant and offer benefits to the one drinking it.
Users feel unpleasant or adverse effects when drinking ignoble kava.
It is said that ignoble kava can last much longer than noble kava, which is not a good thing. Ignoble strains typically have less desirable chemotypes or kavalactone concentrations. Because of this, users have reactions such as nausea and a long-lasting hangover.
Some describe the effects from ignoble kava as causing mental and physical lethargy. It also made them suffer memory and recall problems, sleepiness, and a lack of energy for an extended period.
Ignoble Kavas are banned for export due to their negative effects. Some farmers ignore the warnings and export it anyway. They do this because ignoble kava grows and matures quicker than noble kava, allowing them to make quick money.
Some farmers find it easier to harvest and sell the product in quantity not quality. So, they harvest ignoble kava. Therefore, it is so important for you to understand which type of kava you are buying and drinking.
Recognizing Ignoble Kava
It is not likely that you will look at the packaging of kava and it will say, “This is bad kava.” Instead, you must do your research and know what to look for to avoid buying ignoble strains.
Tudei (two-day) Kava is a common name for ignoble kava. Unlike noble kavas, tudei kava effects last longer, up to 48 hours. Meaning, you can experience the negative feelings for two days after drinking it.
According to the American Kava Association, flavokavains are much higher in ignoble strands. High doses of flavokavains have been linked to hepatoxicity. The chemotypes of ignoble kavas begin with 25 or 52.
Hepatoxicity is when liver cells are damaged. Ignoble kava is associated with liver problems, not noble kava.
What is Noble Kava?
Noble kava is the only type of kava eligible for export. This type of kava has the right amount of kavalactones that produce a feeling of ease and relaxation. It offers a pleasant physiological experience for those who drink it.
As the opposite of ignoble kava, it may offer spiritual experiences and a sense of wisdom. Mainly because while the body is relaxed and comfortable, the mind is still clear.
Recognizing Noble Kava
The kavalactones in noble kava range between five and fifteen percent. This means your drink will have the right potency. You won’t have too little kava, unable to feel any effects. You also won’t have too much kava, giving you too much of an intense reaction.
Noble kava offers the desired effect of mellow relaxation of the physiological state while remaining clear headed. Look for chemotypes of dihydrokavain, kavain and desmethoxyyangonin. These three chemotypes increase dopamine levels in the brain.
When dopamine levels are increased, your brain tells your body to feel good. Your muscles relax and you have an overall sense of well-being. Tension seems to fade away. The best kava drinks offer a temporary benefit.
The temporary effects allow the drink to be taken daily. Sort of like when you go the bar for happy hour after work. You have a few drinks to feel relaxed. The difference? With noble kava, your mind is not altered.
You can still have clarity while feeling super relaxed.
Buying from reputable and certified kava providers, cafes and farms can ensure you are receiving noble kava. Search for reviews by those who have tried the products. Doing research to ensure you receive noble kava is key.
A little research equals big rewards. Don’t waste your time searching through the cheapest variety of kava. What you get may not be of the best quality. It may even be ignoble.