All About Fiji's Famous Natural Remedy, the Kava Root

Kava in Fiji

With humankind’s constant search for remedies to ailments, there has been created a pharmaceutical market that some say is far too large and powerful. However, there are still places in the world that practice common homeopathic remedies and in Fiji, the kava root is said to rival some of the most powerful controlled substances on the market. Fiji customs revolve around an island attitude of a slowed down pace and atmosphere. One of the Fiji traditions is drinking of the kava root, which is said to have the power to calm even the most anxious person. This Fiji tradition dates back thousands of years although it has only recently caught up to modern western society. Those visiting the island will most likely be asked to join in the Fiji custom of drinking kava at the end of the day.

What is Kava

Kava is the root of the pepper tree, which grows commonly in the South Pacific. The root of the plant is harvested and pounded into a soft pulp. With the addition of water, the root pulp yields a drink that produces sedative effects without the disturbance of sensorimotor skills. Fijian tradition only allowed for tribal chiefs to drink kava although in present day it has become the national drink. Unlike alcohol or prescription drugs such as Ativan, it produces a calming effect without clouding one’s mind, and most people say it produces no hangover whatsoever.


Long ago the kava root was gathered by the young girls of the village. The girls would bring it back to the village, wash it, and chew it into a mushy pulp where it would be drank at Fiji ceremonies. Fiji tradition would dictate the proper preparation and only then was it ready to drink. Currently, it is harvested and pounded into the soft pulp. It may take one person hours of work to garner enough kava for a few bowls. In Fiji, there are many roadside bars just as in other countries throughout the world; however, most of these bars do not sell alcohol but have kava ready to drink. Many roadside bar owners spend the majority of their day pounding out the pulp for the afternoon rush. Five o’clock in most places of the world signifies that its time for a beer. Five o’clock in Fiji means its time for a bowl of kava.