Like many other herbs and plants, Piper methysticum (kava) has an abundance of phytochemicals, many of which have psychoactive properties. The drink is not brewed, fermented, or distilled like alcohol. Instead, it is derived from an abundance of these naturally occurring organic chemicals which are gently extracted from the lateral and basal roots of the plant. Although there are many pharmacologically active compounds in kava, those chiefly responsible for much of the pleasurable experience that people speak so fondly of are the kavalactones. Principle among them are the major kavalactones: desmethoxyangonin, dihydrokavain, yangonin, kavain, dihydromethysticin, and methysticin, also referred to as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, respectively, under the widely adopted chemotype naming conventions for P. methysticum.
Since, generally speaking, it is the kavalactones which confer the widely desired effects from the beverage, many people assume that a higher kavalactone content automatically means better quality kava. To some extent that isn’t an entirely incorrect assumption – you aren’t going to experience any kavalactone inspired feelings without kavalactones getting to your brain, and the more abundant a molecule is in your kava, the higher the chance that more of them will engage with the molecular machinery of your body, leading to the physiological response and subjective experience which many people enjoy so thoroughly. So yes, if you have an abundance of kavalactones in your shell, it’s likely you won’t need as many cups to achieve the same feeling that a kava of lower lactone concentration might require, but the quantity of kavalactones isn’t the only story when it comes to how many shells you’d want to drink to get just perfectly into your kava groove…
Ignoble vs noble kava
Noble kava has been extensively researched and has been proven safe for human consumption time and again. There have been a multitude of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles published about the potential benefits of kava and its main psychoactive constituents, the 6 major kavalactones (Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post about this!). Noble kava is easy drinking, mild on the digestive system, and agreeable with almost everyone. Its effects are widely reported as being uplifting, pleasant, smooth, mellow, and satisfying, and the overall subjective experience is entirely enjoyable for the vast majority.
Noble kava powders use only the lateral and basal stems or rhizomes, and never include any part of the rest of the plant, such as stems, nodes or leaves. All noble kavas are high in kavain and low in flavokavains and all of them have a chemotype beginning with 42 or 24. Kavain is always more abundant than dihydromethysticin in noble kavas (the K to DHM (or 4:5) ratio is high). (For more information about chemotyping, please check out our blog on the subject here).
The term, “Ignoble”, can be applied to any of a wide variety of kavas which have not had their safety for human consumption proven, including so-called wichmanii, tudei (two day), medicinal, or wild kavas. Normal amounts of noble kavas, which are refreshing, can be used regularly by almost anyone without undue risk of serious adverse effects. Most ignoble kavas have a 5 as one of the first 2 numbers in the chemotype, and the K to DHM ratio tends to be around 1 or lower.
The Vanuatu Kava Act restricts the export of kava for consumption to noble varieties only, and although all kava exported from Vanuatu has to meet strict biosecurity and food-safety requirements, the finished kava powder product can vary dramatically in quality depending on exactly which plants are used and on how they are processed. We have an upcoming blog entry about this, but you can be confident that Root & Pestle not only make high-quality kava that goes down easily and works great, but we also ensure that every batch of our kava powder consistently exceeds every requirement for safety too.
Root & Pestle use only 100% noble kava in all of our kava powders, both traditional, and instant. R&P are noble kava specialists; We only buy noble kava, and we only sell noble kava powders and we are extremely comprehensive with their checks and exclusive in our selection of fresh green kava approved for processing; You will get nothing but the highest quality Vanuatu noble kava powder, regardless of which finished product you purchase from R&P.
Ignoble vs noble kava
Vanuatu drinking kava comes in two types, ignoble kava (or Tudei kava) and noble kava. Ignoble or Tudei kava can make you feel nauseous and dizzy and cause a nasty “kava hangover”, 2 days of lethargy, sleepiness and mental fog. On the other hand, noble strains of Vanuatu kava elevate your mood and make you feel happy, their kavalactones are metabolised quickly and there are no long lasting effects. Root & Pestle only use 100% noble kava in their instant kava and kava powder. Each batch of kava is lab tested and approved and its origin certified.