kava kava

This Anxiety-Relieving Drink Wants to Be Your New Glass of Wine - Rachelle for Bon Appetit's HEALTHYISH

This Anxiety-Relieving Drink Wants to Be Your New Glass of Wine - Rachelle for Bon Appetit's HEALTHYISH

I was an adventurous kid, with parents involved in both eastern and western medicine, so I grew up experimenting with all kinds of uncommon ways of self-mending. Homeopathic pellets for headaches, essential oil on my feet for sleep, moxibustion for sore muscles... Hanging out in health food stores for fun was basically my M.O.

One herbal remedy I encountered early on was kava kava—a bitter root reported to calm anxiety. The psychoactive plant is native to the western Pacific, where communities in Polynesia have been drinking it in tea form for thousands of years. Kava bars have long been popular in Hawaii, but only recently have they started popping up on the mainland. Last spring, N.Y.C. got its first few, one of which is Brooklyn Kava in Bushwick, close enough to make me a regular. 

Osha Root & Oxytocin (the love hormone)


Osha Root

Last week I attended an herbal-product tasting of a "flight" of teas, tinctures, extracts and otherwise from one of my favorite resources for this lifestyle, period: Evolver and their new venture, The Alchemist's Kitchen. (Note my left-nav badge of affection, and I'll definitely reaffirm following their trajectory; it's good things.)

The tasting included more herbs than I've ingested in a single sitting (or week, likely) to date, and made me feel fantastic. Euphoric. So, it was fun too - to say the least. More about their projects and that bigger picture, soon.

Meanwhile, one of the herbs that I wasn't familiar with but curious about was Osha. Otherwise known as loveage, loveroot or bear medicine. Because, bears chew on it for the health benefits (source: Bears) but then get side-affected by the "lovage" properties and take to nuzzling each other.

Make-out twigs! Of course I was promptly in pursuit. Picked some up at The Herb Shoppe (which also stocks Rx Apothecary (plug)) this weekend, made a many-hour decoction and have been drinking definitely more than a mug a night since.

In the pot, pre-decoct:

Post-decoct, tea-dark:

In addition to all of that fun, Osha tastes wonderful - like a peppery celery or lightly like anise, and brewing a decoction all day does good things for a home-air's aroma.

More info and an Osha-Kava "Latte" recipe below - for when you really want to get down.

Osha root: Ligusticum porteri, known as Osha or oshá, is a perennial herb found in parts of the Rocky Mountains and northern Mexico. - Wikipedia

Osha Root About, Uses & Benefits:

  • A perennial herb of the parsley family
  • Seeds and leaves were food to indigenous Americans
  • Also functioned as symbols for different beliefs. Some burned Osha as a sacrifice for protection against dangerous spirits and omens. Others washed it in waterways near vegetation as rituals for producing rain.
  • Roots chewed to increase endurance. This probably because of Osha's positive contributions to a healthy respiratory system. Native American Indian parents even used to wrap Osha roots with leaves and strings and placed them near newly born babies to cleanse the air they breathed.
  • Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory.
  • Also popular as a warming herb, it supports healing of respiratory conditions (coughs, colds, tonsillitis, flu, and other types of viral infections).

Modern Uses

  • The outstanding antiviral properties of the Osha root are still recognized today. It's still used as early medication for the common cold and flu. Take at the first signals of coughing and sneezing. Osha is very effective as treatment for respiratory conditions such as sinus congestion, sore throat and inflammations in the bronchus. Can also be taken by those traveling to higher altitudes or for long-distance hiking as it promotes easy breathing.

Osha contains Oxytocin:

Oxytocin is a powerful hormone. When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels drive up. It also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, the hormone plays a huge role in pair bonding. This hormone is greatly stimulated during sex, birth, breast feeding—the list goes on.

- Psychology Today


Osha Kava Latte

  • 1 C Osha root decoction (a small handful of root, brought to a boil and then reduced to a simmer for at least an hour, for up to five or until water is tea-dark)
  • 2 tbsp Kava (powdered is strongest and my preference)
  • 1/4 C coconut milk (homemade or full-fat store-bought additive free)

Blend all, warm but don't boil. Drink. Get down.

Hawaii Eats: Island Food Finds

First I'll say that I didn't eat much.  Chalk it up to a ton of sleep (?), the warm weather (?) or deep relaxation (?) (I'm actually still investigating if any of these really affect metabolism or hunger) but I ate a single, light meal a day, only - every day for 10 there. No idea why, but that's what the body wanted. I worked out a ton - ran, rode, swam, practiced long yoga sessions - didn't matter; wasn't hungry and felt perfect. Most of what we did eat was from the property: starfruit and oranges, bananas, papaya, guava, avocado and coconut. The couple of times I saw town, I was reminded of my penchant for vinegar. Just about everything I bought was some version of (intentionally) fermented.

(Pardon the unsightly labels - it was an 8-mile round trip to town. I'd run there and then backpack home.)

Puna Pahoa Island Naturals Shopping Trip Local Kava, Kombucha and herbs.




La Hiki Jun Peppermint, chamomile, gotu kola, mugwort, damiana, rosemary, rose petals, aloha


Red Cabbage and Beet kraut


Purple Sweetpotato

Sun made nettle tea

pahoa puna hawaii rainbow juice

Mangosteen natural Hawaii fruit superfruit