Meet the Plant That Is In the News For All the Wrong Reasons

By Grit Daily Staff Grit Daily Staff has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on September 20, 2019

In recent years, kratom and kava bars in the U.S. have been sprouting in different cities across the country with Florida leading the pack. Based on recent trends, Kava is becoming a great social drink. People who drink it loosen up, relax and plunge into a happy and relaxed mood. And the best part is it gives one a good night’s sleep without the inconvenience of nursing a nasty hangover the following morning. (Sounds great, right?)

Yet, this herbal plant continues to be in the news, for all the wrong health reasons. Unfortunately, the over-the-counter herbal drug known as ‘kratom’ has been linked to an increasing number of overdose deaths, federal health officials said back in April.

From July 2016 to December 2017, kratom was the cause of death in at least 91 fatal overdoses in the United States, with 152 people testing positive for the substance in a postmortem toxicology during that time period. Joining the ranks of other drugs, like fentanyl and cocaine, federal regulators have warned against kratom’s use.

But why? Supporters of kratom, led by the American Kratom Association (AKA), have disputed the substance’s danger, citing past reports suggesting it has low toxicity and has a milder withdrawal than opiates. The AKA has compared the addiction characteristics of kratom to caffeine in coffee.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is a plant grown naturally in Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand and Malaysia, where it’s been widely used for centuries. It’s sold as a powder, typically in capsules, that can be used in tea to ease opioid withdrawals as well as fatigue, pain, coughing and diarrhea.

According to the AKA, between 3 million and 5 million people use kratom nationwide, with adult men leading the statistics. In the United States, the herbal supplement is typically purchased at smoke shops, gas stations, or online.

It is well-reported that the active chemicals in the plant act on opioid receptors in the body, with patients reporting use to help treat/prevent withdrawal, treat opioid use disorder, and/or treat pain.

Southeast Asian locals believe that the herb has some amazing healing properties. For an herbal supplement that isn’t supported by scientific research, the market for it is excessive and popular for selling and purchasing. One of the more popular kratom powder’s available on the international market, is the Kratom Crazy market, according to sources.

The Kratom Market

Kratom is banned in many countries in the world including Australia, Denmark, Myanmar, Sweden, South Korea, Romania, Poland, and United Kingdom. Doctors believe that some of its compounds have similar properties of opioid painkillers, which release stress and induce good sleep.

The traditional practice has always been to boil kratom leaves or chew them, but now it is available in powder form, capsules, tablets and can also be smoked.

Kratom Kava Bars

A kratom kava bar is a place where kratom is provided in tea form, and people can also enjoy boiled kratom leaves.

It’s important to note that kava and kratom are increasingly being sold alongside each other at kava bars and in stores online. However, while they are similar in name and drink appearance, they are world’s apart.

Kava, or the “intoxicating pepper,” is a plant-based, psychoactive national drink of Fiji and has been used in Pacific Island cultures throughout history for its relaxing and meditative effects.

In these Pacific Island communities, kava is consumed before the beginning of an important religious ritual or ceremony. Most commonly though, it is used as a beverage to relax and unwind from the day. The plant is pounded into a powder and then mixed with water.

Currently, with the advent of bars and hotels, kratom kava is provided to customers at affordable prices. Interestingly, customers are presented with a vast array of flavors to choose to have a great experience of having hot kava. Apart from the drinks, a kratom kava bar is rich in opulence and ambiance. This means customers can get an amazing experience of enjoying a drink which they believe provides stress from anxiety.

What Does It Taste Like?

For travelers, kava is an unusual, psychoactive drink, from an intoxicating pepper plant common across other countries in the region.

People who drink kratom kava explain that it gives an earthy feeling and causes mild buzz in the body after 20 to 30 minutes. Furthermore, drinkers also explain, it gives a soothing effect to the body and provides relief from stress for the next 2 to 4 hours. However, people who have taken it in large quantities or as a supplement explain it can cause negative effects to the body. Though its popularity has widely grown in the US, yet this notorious drug and herb continue to be regarded as illegal in many states.

Kratom kava bars are spotted in many parts of the US. Some states such as Texas allow the use of kratom, as they have SquareRut Kava Bar in Austin.

SquareRüt is one of nearly 100 kava bars that have popped up across the U.S., according to an interactive map produced by Kalm With Kava, a kava product and information website. Earlier this year, downtown Phoenix, Arizona opened the state’s first kava bar, Lacuna Kava Bar. Only a handful of states such as California, New York, and Florida among them—are home to one or more kava bars.

  • Bula Kafe(St. Petersburg, Florida) — This bar was founded in 2009 and is actually considered as “St. Petersburg’s Original Kava Bar and Coffee House.” It offers not only the finest Kava from Vanuatu but also Ethnobotanical Teas and Kahwa Coffee. Since its founding, it has been educating people and spreading their love of Kava throughout Florida’s West Coast.
  • Nakava Bar(Boca Raton, Florida) — This bar has been in the kava business for the last 14 years in Boca Raton. It’s actually the very first kava bar in the continental US. Its serving hours until 2 a.m., so their place is the perfect place to hang out when you’re out late at nightthat is, if you’re 18 years old or older. It invites customers to bring their friends any time they’re in Boca Raton.
  • House of Kava(Bushwick, Brooklyn) — This bar is Brooklyn’s first kava bar. It encourages its patrons to make it a sanctuary or a second home for anyone who enters its doors. Employees serve freshly brewed kava to its customers as they unwind in a stress-free work or study environment. It offers patrons to come and co-create a new social community, of which creativity of the arts is a part of.
  • Kavasutra Kava Bar(Denver, Colorado) — Kavasutra, among all the other kava bars in the US, claims that their kava and herbals are the best of the best. It serves kava that’s imported directly from Vanuatu, the place where its kava is well-known to be the highest quality root available in the whole world. Kavasutra’s different branches in Florida, New York, and Colorado offer a relaxing, serene environment perfect for kicking back and relaxing within a welcoming and non-judgemental environment—all the while as you sip your kava shell.
  • Root of Happiness Kava Bar(Davis, California) — If you want to go to the premier kava bar in North America, come to the Davis location of the Root of Happiness Kava Bar. It serves kavas squeezed fresh on a daily basis. And its employees invite their customers to “Stop in and have a shell with us!”  This bar is dedicated to giving its clients a superior kava experience from its ambiance and decor. It provides an alcohol-free environment for adults 18 years old and older to come together and celebrate Kava Kava’s 3,000-year-old tradition and culturecomplete with pineapple chunks placed in each bowl of premium kava.
  • The Grass Roots Kava House(St. Petersburg, Florida) – Although not the first Kava bar in St. Pete, this is definitely becoming one of the most popular with its central location in the iconic “Edge District,” with its locally-owned, independent businesses. The bar features handmade syrups and uses local ingredients to create their own style of Kava drinks.
By Grit Daily Staff Grit Daily Staff has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

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