There has been a new fad that has been sweeping the nation in recent years. This is the recent fad of kava bars opening up in cities nationwide, many of them to great fanfare and with a base of regulars already waiting at the wings. What is it about this new trend that has so many people jumping at the chance to drink what could possibly be just the next in a line of short-lived trends that never seem to grab hold of the general public, like oxygen-bars, or nap-pods?
First, to understand the appeal, one must understand exactly what these bars serve, which is primarily drinks made out of Kava root and kratum leaves. These drinks come with different benefits, according to those who serve them up, such as Hailey B, who is a local purveyor of kava and kratum at Low Tide Lounge in Pinellas County, FL.
Kratum is the leaf of the kratum plant that comes from South East Asia, and the South Pacific, and has more anti-oxidants than green tea. It has been known to help with pain relief, lowering blood pressure, increasing sexual performance and desire, as well as aiding in opiate and alcohol withdrawal. It also promotes overall happiness and increases a positive work ethic.
Gabi M., another barista at Low Tide Lounge, turned me on to an article by Barbara Lago at the University of Mississippi, who wrote that through testing Dr. Christopher McCurdy concluded kratum has shown positive benefits for addicts who are searching for alternative methods of rehabilitation. Ms. Lago quotes Dr. McCurdy in the article, stating “kratom has long been used for coughs, diarrhea, muscle aches and pain…and has been used to wean people off (opium).”
Kava also hails from the same region of the planet, and many of the people who enjoy one, often will enjoy the other, although mixing Kava with alcohol is not recommended by those who sell the beverage. Kava has been shown to prevent migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, muscle pain, and for certain cancer prevention. It has also been shown to to relieve anxiety, stress, restlessness, and insomnia.
Kava and kratum appear to be more than just another way for people to achieve a sense of heightened consciousness. Maybe those who drink it regularly are looking toward their futures, as opposed to achieving a buzz for that evening. It could be those who enjoy the muddy-flavored beverages on a regular basis are more concerned with the stabilized euphoric feeling and long term health benefits as opposed to the instant gratification, and long term negative harm, caused by alcohol.
Just as with any new fad there are those who feel the need to regulate the industry or to banish the plants entirely. We know of the beneficial aspects of these plants, and while they both cause euphoria-like side effects there is little evidence that has supported any reason to regulate them with anything more than age-limits and labeling laws.
Recently there has been a lot of focus on the health freedoms of the people in Florida. Do they have the right to decide what course of medical treatment they take? While kava and kratum may not be at the forefront of the debate, they are just more examples of naturally-created, medically beneficial options for Floridians who may not want to use synthetic medicines such as Vicodin, Percocet, or Xanax.
Bill Wohlsifer supports the freedoms of individuals to discover and create new potential markets and products in a free market society, where people have the right to make their own decisions when it comes to their health. He also promises that without quantifiable evidence showing public harm he will not add natural remedies on the controlled substances list.
Mr. Wohlsifer has been quoted as saying, “When it comes to healing or nourishing the body, I endorse holistic, spiritual, dietary, pharmaceutical and surgical treatments. I have personally found value in each.”