I’ve been dealing with anxiety this year, which is not unusual considering my status as part of the “anxious generation.”

This spring, it was becoming disruptive enough that I knew I had to do SOMETHING. I didn’t want to take pharmaceuticals, but I didn’t feel like there were lifestyle changes I could make — I was getting adequate sleep (generally), exercised regularly, stayed hydrated, spent time outdoors, and consumed almost exclusively organic whole foods.

I needed something extra, but I wasn’t sure what — until I read this article. While many people may read it and pay the most attention to the similarities drawn between kava and weed/coffee/alcohol, the parts that drew me in were a few sentences about anxiety. Evidently, kava does a great job of reducing bodily tension and mental anxiety while maintaining mental clarity.

I was a little bit nervous about trying it, as kava is said to be occasionally hallucinogenic, but I read enough reviews and personal experiences to feel confident that I wouldn’t experience hallucinations or anything of the sort unless I took a lot of it.

anxiety

Photo by Rose Gerber

My first challenge was figuring out where to find it. Much as I love Whole Foods, I didn’t feel like paying an arm and a leg for something I was just trying out. Prices on Amazon seemed excessive as well, so my search was at a standstill until I visited my local co-op. While searching the bulk spice aisle for matcha green tea powder, I stumbled across kava kava root powder. I bought about half an ounce and paid a dollar for it.

I’d been having trouble sleeping, so I decided to try it out that night. Once I had finished making this latte with it, I nervously took a sip, anticipating bitterness or something unpleasant. I was pleased to find a mild, earthy flavor.

anxiety

Photo by Rose Gerber

I climbed into bed soon after and found my muscles to be incredibly relaxed, no tension present in my body or mind. I fell asleep quickly and slept deeply.

Since then, I have used kava on multiple occasions. I’ve found that it helps me calm down, focus on what’s important, and relax my muscles (I used to become tense and jittery for extended periods of time, sometimes days). Some weeks I’ll use it several times — others, not at all. I take it in response to anxiety, in anticipation, or if I just feel like chilling out.

Most of the time I drink it in latte form, although I have started occasionally mixing it with my morning oatmeal. From what I’ve read about maximum effectiveness, kava is best consumed warm (or at least room temperature), and with some type of fat.

anxiety

Photo by Rose Gerber

This being said, kava is not always the most convenient anxiety aid. Even if I carry the powder around with me, I can’t guarantee quick, convenient access to hot water to make a drink. I’m thinking of creating some kava-infused brownies, which would be convenient for weeks that are especially busy.

If you regularly experience moderate-to-severe disruptive anxiety, see a professional and take their advice. If your anxiety tends to be mild and only occasionally disruptive, I’d recommend giving kava a try. It may just do the trick.