Is Kava an intoxicant?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Moth
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Is Kava an intoxicant?

Postby Moth » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:35 am

I bought this Yogi "stress relief" kava tea from the supermarket today. I looked it up online and people talk about using kava to get high, I assume in much higher doses. Would drinking this tea break my precepts? Here's a link to it http://www.amazon.com/Yogi-Stress-Relie ... B0009F3QKW
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Re: Is Kava an intoxicant?

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:51 am

Greetings Moth,

From the sounds of the Wikipedia article (part of which reproduced below), it would appear that it has some definite intoxicating effects.

Kava or kava-kava (Piper methysticum) (Piper: Latin for 'pepper', methysticum: (Latinized) Greek for 'intoxicating') is a crop of the western Pacific.
The name kava(-kava) is from Tongan and Marquesan;[1] other names for kava include ʻawa (Hawaiʻi), ava (Samoa), yaqona (Fiji), and sakau (Pohnpei).
The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anesthetic properties. Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia. Kava is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity. Its active ingredients are called kavalactones. A Cochrane Collaboration systematic review of its evidence concluded it was likely to be more effective than placebo at treating short-term social anxiety.[2] Safety concerns have been raised over liver toxicity, largely due to the use of stems and leaves by supplement makers, as opposed to solely the root of the plant as dictated by traditional uses.[3][4] However, based on a retrospective study of retained P. methysticum drug materials in Germany, the alkaloid pipermethystine, occurring to about 0.2% in the leaves, is an unlikely cause for the observed hepatotoxicity.[5] Whether kava hepatotoxicity may be due to contamination with aflatoxins or other mould hepatotoxins, requires further studies.[6] Heavy use of kava with comorbid alcohol consumption or an existing liver condition appears to lead to malnutrition, weight loss, liver damage (causing elevated serum γ -glutamyl transferase and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels), renal dysfunction, rashes, pulmonary hypertension, macrocytosis of red cells, lymphocytopenia, and decreasing platelet volumes.[7]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kava


Keeping in mind that substances such as meth-amphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and a whole raft of other substances are not mentioned in the suttas, we use our judgement, as well as the counsel of our wise companions, in understanding what falls within the precept. If it were me, I would give the kava tea a wide bearth.
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Is Kava an intoxicant?

Postby Moth » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:03 am

Yeah, I figure it's not worth dwelling in these gray areas. I'll return it, thanks for the advice.
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Re: Is Kava an intoxicant?

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:10 am

You are welcome, Moth!
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

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Re: Is Kava an intoxicant?

Postby marc108 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:15 pm

just like many medicinal herbs (tea, coffee included), kava in high doses can be intoxicating... that being said, using small, medicinally viable doses of kava should not break the 5th precept in my opinion because 1) there is no intention to become intoxicated 2) it would be nearly impossible to become intoxicated from the small dose in those teabags. the amount of kava in the yogi tea is hundreds of times below the amount you would need to become intoxicated... you would need to brew several entire boxes in one cup to feel even mild intoxication.

that being said if you still choose to avoid the kava, perhaps i could recommend some other herbs or teas for you to try to take for stress?
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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Re: Is Kava an intoxicant?

Postby Moth » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:55 pm

marc108 wrote:that being said if you still choose to avoid the kava, perhaps i could recommend some other herbs or teas for you to try to take for stress?


I would appreciate that. I exchanged it for a chamomile/lavender blend. I'm very interested in making a custom blend.
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Re: Is Kava an intoxicant?

Postby Ben » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:11 am

And i am sure there will be no shortage of DW members who will share with you their favourite herbal concoctions.
Feel free to start a thread in the Health & Wellbeing forum on herbal tea.
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

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Moth
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Re: Is Kava an intoxicant?

Postby Moth » Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:37 am

ok, new thread here: viewtopic.php?f=31&t=12098
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