You love mixed martial arts (MMA), and your training sessions often leave you sore and wishing for a way to relieve the pain. Alternatively, you may want to feel like you’re not experiencing any pain while training so that you can push yourself to higher limits. Then, it happens: you hear about this substance called kava, and it makes you wonder if it’s suitable for MMA.
Kava is neither good nor bad for MMA. It is generally recommended to avoid utilizing drugs when training. However, if you feel that it will help you, it would be best to consult a physician before trying it. Kava usage is linked to hepatotoxicity in some studies, but few studies and results fully prove that.
This article will discuss the essential things you need to know about kava, such as its definition, origin, advantages, and disadvantages. It will also explain why kava is neither good nor bad for MMA training sessions and talk about how the substance may or may not help you in your MMA journey.
What Is Kava?
Kava originates from a South Pacific Island shrub bearing heart-shaped leaves. Its roots yield kavalactones, which mainly induce muscle relaxation. Kava intake was part of the Pacific Islands’ cultures before Westerners started studying kava and its effects.
Early kava preparation and process involved the chewing or pounding of its root and creating beverages out of its rootstock. However, these days, kava supplement production methods vary from place to place and company to company.
You may find kava utilized as an alternative for quite a few things. For example, some people choose to use kava as an alternative to anxiety medications due to their calming effect and less potent side effects. Benzodiazepine drugs for anxiety often bring about lethargy, confusion, and nausea as their side effects, but kava doesn’t.
You may also hear about athletes incorporating kava into their treatment plans. This is because kava isn’t addicting and is milder compared to narcotics like Vicodin and Percocet. Likewise, some people use kava to relax and unwind after a long day or a strenuous activity.
So, kava officially classifies as a soporific, diuretic, mild narcotic, and significant muscle relaxant; for people with anxiety, kava aids in inducing calmness and the feeling of drowsiness. Meanwhile, kava supports athletes as pain relievers and even a diuretic to help them eliminate excess water.
Pros of Kava Usage
- Kava works as an excellent pain reliever without being too strong. This attracts athletes to kava: it can dull the pain as good as potent drugs can, but it doesn’t come with addictive properties or unwanted mental side effects.
- It also acts as an anesthetic or sedative when prepared right. For people allergic to the typical anesthesia, kava is heaven-sent. It’s also a plus that kava is an all-natural drug, so using it as a sedative is generally safer than other heavier drugs.
- It works as an antispasmodic drug as well. This means if you continuously experience muscle spasms, you may benefit from using kava. Kava can turn into your antispasmodic drug alternative if you find the typical treatment drugs too strong.
- Kava possesses antifungal properties. Hence, if you suffer from fungal infections and the like, you’ll find kava as a helpful ally. It’s a natural substance that can fight against fungi which is important in Mixed Martial Arts as you sweat a lot.
- It functions as a diuretic, too. You will benefit from this the most if they suffer from high blood pressure or if you need to lose water weight.
- Evolution of your MMA game. Times have changed, and supplementing is a substantial part of staying at the top of your game, whether it’s Kava or high-quality protein powder, you should use it.
Cons of Kava Usage
- Kava induces numbness. You will especially experience this if you chew its roots.
- Kava may induce appetite loss. Some people experience this, and some don’t.
- Kava may cause liver damage. Conducted studies have yet to prove that kava itself caused liver toxicity since too many factors need to be considered. However, if you’re taking kava and consuming alcohol as well, your chances of developing hepatotoxicity are high.
- Heavy kava drinkers develop ulcerous skin and bloodshot eyes. Like any substance, kava is prone to misuse and abuse. When people consume kava daily, and in large doses, they’re bound to develop severe eczema and bloodshot eyes.
- The rise of Kava bars may be bad for the reputation of the supplement.
Is Kava Good for MMA?
As mentioned earlier, kava is neither good nor bad for mixed martial arts. You can consume it to support you after training to help you relax, or you can choose not to use kava and find other ways to unwind instead. You can also consume it before training to push your body’s flexibility to the limit, but doing that is unwise and highly discouraged.
To help you decide, see the frequently asked questions regarding kava usage and MMA training below:
What Does Kava Do to Your Body?
As mentioned earlier, kava acts as a potent muscle relaxant. So, it relaxes your muscles. In turn, this leads to relief from muscle spasms and even grants you a break from anxiety. Besides that, kava also works as a diuretic, so it’ll help lower your blood pressure and lessen your water weight which is required prior to martial arts fights.
However, note that kava turns you numb, especially if you consumed a large dose or a dose mixed with other substances. In this case, you may find it hard to move while you’re affected by kava. You will not feel any pain as well, so there’s a higher chance of getting injuries you will not feel until after kava’s effect wears off.
Likewise, know that kava preparations influence its side effect, like the damage done to your liver. It’s always best to consume only noble kava, and if you’re drinking it as a beverage, ensure that kava only uses water instead of an alcohol-based medium.
Are Muscle Relaxants Like Kava Good for MMA?
Muscle relaxants perfectly suit people who cannot relax after a strenuous and exhausting training session or physical activity. Kava helps those people by telling their bodies to unwind and relax. The best thing about kava is that it’s a natural substance that aids with relaxation, which is better than taking strong drugs to relax.
On the other hand, muscle relaxants do not suit anyone who plans to work out or partake in a martial arts class. It would be best if you did not take a muscle relaxant before training. Besides the high chance that you will barely have control over your body, there’s also the fact that you will not feel pain while training.
You may think that not feeling pain while training is a good thing, but think about this: pain is your body’s way of telling you its limits. If you train while under a muscle relaxant, you’re more likely setting yourself up for injuries and issues popping up after training and once the relaxant wears off. This is because while you could not feel the pain during your session, you still did some damage to your muscles and joints.
High kicks and flexibility are crucial in MMA, but taking a substance to push your body past its limits will do more harm than good. If you want to train for flexibility, check out this post from Martial Arts Planet for tips on naturally training for high kicks instead:
What if I Want To Use Kava for MMA?
If you are thinking of using kava for MMA, you need to make sure you’re obtaining kava from only the best sources. To do that:
- Scour the internet for kava sellers and check out their reviews.
- See their notes on how they process the substance.
- If you want recommendations, check out these finds from Amazon: Wakacon Kava Powder, Gaia Herbs Vegan Kava Capsules, and Herb Pharm Kava Extract.
Additionally, remember that the daily maximum recommended kava dose is 250 mg (0.25g) because taking more than that could potentially induce hepatotoxicity in the long run.
Kava is a neutral substance that may or may not help you in Mixed Martial Arts, so it’s ultimately up to you to decide if it helps you or not. Your newly acquired knowledge about kava and its relation to sports training should aid you. Now you are informed you may spread the words to teammates and friends of your new found knowledge.
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