Undercover Doc: The Alcohol Alternative – Kava!


People love to drink, including physicians and researchers, and the constant barrage of studies that try and link alcohol to health are a symptom of our undying need for the substance.

It seems like there’s a monthly expose that hits the press about wine being a cure-all, and almost none about the ravages that alcohol has on our population’s health. As a whole, alcohol is right behind cigarettes in the scope and intensity of damage it causes people. The number of people with liver damage and the psychological impact of alcohol abuse increases yearly, currently causing 88,000 deaths per year and billions of lost revenue from impaired work. Yearly the U.S. spends about $240 BILLION on alcohol related health problems and rehabilitation, which makes alcohol consumption one of the most costly preventable health issues in the United States. It’s time we consider there may be other options to the needed stress relief and social lubricants.

I’d like to introduce an alternative that has been around for over a thousand years, utilized primarily by the Polynesians… KAVA. KAVA root.

Years ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that is known to be exacerbated by alcohol consumption, so I had evaluate my drinking habits and the negative effects it was causing my body and energy level. Thankfully at this time in my life I discovered a healthy alternative, thanks to a local business establishment which owns the title of being South Carolina’s only “Kava Bar”, the Kava Konnection on Wade Hampton Ave.

Since I walked in the door a few years ago, Kava has been a personal Godsend. I’m not unlike most people in the fact that when I stopped drinking alcohol I missed the feeling of relaxation a few glasses of wine gives you, not to mention the social lubrication during gathering and events. Unfortunately for people with inflammatory disorders of the joints or GI tract, alcohol is not only an irritant but also a major PRO-inflammatory substance. It also makes eczema and psoriasis flare to a horrible level in some people. Thankfully, Kava has none of these effects, and many studies have shown an ANTI-inflammatory action from the natural compounds in the root.

In this light, I have made the change and haven’t had alcohol for years.

I know you all have a healthy suspicion regarding medicine and healthcare, but I want you to also practice that same weariness regarding media outlets and the studies it chooses to highlight. Yes, the substances in grapes that red wine is made from are good for you, but the studies don’t mention the millions of people who abuse that same wine and have horrible long-term medical and psychological effects.

The problem with touting only certain studies is that you get the bias of the reporters and magazines, which almost certainly all drink wine and advertise alcohol products, and are obviously excited to show potential benefits. It’s not quite as sexy and fun to quote yet another study showing the destruction alcohol consumption has on our society.

Thankfully there is an alternative! Kava root is ground and can be made into fruity drinks or natural teas and although you won’t get drunk like you do with wine, you can certainly have the relaxation benefits similar to a glass of wine. . .all without the health effects OR hangovers. I’d like to suggest this alternative the Polynesians have been drinking for thousands of years. Take note from them and sit and enjoy a bowl of Kava with a bunch of friends and wake up feeling health and rested instead of hugging the toilet bowl .

-Undercover Doc

Undercover Doc
I am a double-boarded specialist who has worked with patients of all ages in the office, hospital and ER realm for almost two decades. I will be your unbiased source for information that healthcare teams don’t normally discuss with patients due to time of other constraints. From alternative therapies and medico-legal quandaries, to uncovering the mysterious world of medical costs and billing, I’ll focus my articles on topics you don’t see in the mainstream media or health system websites. Stay tuned for my next installment!

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