By Chris Allen-Kava Expert
Hi everyone, this is Chris Allen of Gourmet Hawaiian Kava. Many people filter their Micronized Kava, claim that the Makas are removed, and yet the consumers still complain about nausea. Nausea is usually caused by the hard fibers, Makas, that still remain in the finely ground micronized Kava. Today I am going to talk about micronized kava and how I process my micronized kava so that the makas are removed BEFORE I grind it into Micronized Kava. I’m a kava farmer so I can do this whereas the retailers cannot. Like everyone does, I used to grind the dry kava root into a very fine powder and call it Micronized Kava. By grinding the whole root, there is no waste. I used to get this micronized kava from a place in Texas believe it or not, they sold Tongan kava. It was good and strong but it was gritty. Then I got a Fijian kava that was micronized and this kava was finer than the Tongan I got from Texas. When I drank the micronized Fijian kava, I noticed it was still a little gritty and kind of chalky. I would get some nausea from this Fijian but I thought it was just the kava and not the grind. So in essence, I was just “toss and washing” a fine grind of kava.
Then I started to think about how the Islanders made there kava in the traditional way. First beating the Kava to a pulp and then using water they would separate the good stuff from the coarse fibers. The coarse fibers are called “makas” in Vanuatu and they are thrown away. According to the “Vanuatu Kava Act”, It is considered illegal to sell Kava with “makas”. So I started thinking, since I grow and process my kava and I make the Instant Kava from fresh root, then I should be able to make Micronized Kava in the traditional way. So I developed a process that stripped the coarse fibers from the undried root before processing. The resulting pure Kava root is dried and then micronized. The final product does not have the coarse unwanted fibers in it. This is the reason that I cannot Micronize Kavas I buy from other sources. The Kava has already been processed and contains “makas” and there is no way to remove them once the Kava has been processed.
When I take out the unwanted fibers or the makas I loose about 50% by weight. So if I have 50 pounds of kava ready to be processed, I will end up with only about 25 pounds of micronized powder. Kava processors will not take out the Makas because it represents a 50% loss of revenue. They just grind it all all into a fine powder. The makas is what causes nausea in some people and it seems to accelerate the onset of Dermopathy.
Are there kavalactones in these fibers that are traditionally thrown away? Yes there is, perhaps in the 4 or 5% range. During the Kava boom, German companies were unfortunately buying the makas residue to make there kava products and that may be the reason for the unfavorable reports on Kava. Dr. Lebot has said, “It is possible that Flavokavins are concentrated in these fibers, or undesirable kavalactones, causing nausea.”
So this is why I take extra care to remove these unwanted makas fibers before I micronize my kava. I want to insure that my customers get the best, safest, and most potent product possible. Enjoy kava and drink safely.