Kava kava (Piper methysticum)
Kava is a tropical evergreen shrub with a long history of ritual and recreational use in Pacific Ocean cultures including Hawaii, Polynesia, and parts of Micronesia. Kava has sedative and anesthetic properties and is often used to temporarily relieve symptoms of social anxiety, or simply to relax. Personally, I use it before giving a presentation at school, as I am very nervous and tense when speaking to a large group of people (and for me, large usually means four or more!). I find it to be very helpful; it reduces anxiety without compromising my mental clarity. When using kava, only consume the root as the stems and leaves may contribute to liver toxicity. Traditionally, kava is prepared using only the root, but many commercially-made supplements and tinctures use the stems and leaves so also be aware when purchasing products containing kava.
Note: Mountain Rose Herbs sells pure kava root (cultivated without chemicals) and is where I bought the kava for this recipe. Also, here is a helpful youtube video from mountain rose herbs about making herbal tinctures.
Basic Tincture Recipe:
You will need a large wide-mouth jar (about a quart), 4 ounces Kava Kava Root, cheese cloth, a fine mesh strainer, and enough 100 to 150 proof vodka or spirits (I used 151 proof spirits) to top off the jar.
Fill pint jar half full with kava root, then fill to top with 100 proof vodka or spirits.
Stir mixture, cap and shake daily for one week. Then let sit for 5 more weeks in a dark place such as a cupboard (six weeks total).
Strain mixture through cheese cloth by tightly squeezing the cloth to remove as much liquid as possible into a clean jar. Be sure to label with the name of the herb and the date. This recipe will yield about 8 ounces of tincture. Store in a dark place and enjoy how much money you saved by not buying a commercially-made tincture!