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A beverage that has been derived from the kava plant is called a kava drink. Traditionally, kava drinks are concocted from the root of the kava plant, though large manufacturers of the drinks use both the stems and leaves of the plant in addition to the root. Consuming a drink made from any part of the kava plant acts as a sedative, which is why this type of drink is used as a relaxant.
Throughout the Pacific Ocean islands, kava drinks are prepared by steeping plant roots in hot water. The tea that results from this preparation is highly potent, and those who consume this tea usually eat a large meal following consumption in order to combat the effects of the kava plant. Kava root can also be pounded into a powder, and then mixed into cold water in order to form a beverage called Grogg.
Modern manufacturers also pound the root of the kava plant into a fine powder before allowing this powder to dry. Once the powder has thoroughly dried, it is then exported to countries all around the world. Consumers who purchase ground kava powder can create a kava drink by adding the powder to water, and allowing the mixture to sit for thirty minutes.
A kava drink that has been pre-packaged includes additional ingredients. Typically, lecithin, an animal- or vegetable-derived fatty material, is added to the drink, and coconut milk or soy milk may also be added. Some manufacturers also add sugar, cocoa, and lemongrass to kava drinks. The relaxing effects of a pure kava drink can last up to two hours, and most people feel these effects within twenty minutes of consuming it.
Even though some cultures have been consuming pure kava beverages for centuries, the drink is somewhat controversial. Various medical experts believe that consuming kava can lead to liver damage and kidney damage. As such, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and France have all made the sale of kava, in any form, illegal. While the plant is not illegal in the United States or Canada, Canada has issued a stop-sale of kava, which makes it impossible for vendors to sell the plant, and the Food and Drug Administration in the United States has issued a report detailing the possible side effects of the plant. Prior to purchasing kava of any kind, it is wise to find out whether or not it is illegal in your country.