The complex presence of kava in the Western World: A fascinating perspective of Dr Huffman

A couple of weeks ago we went to one of the Pacific islands that lost its kava culture 150 years ago with the arrival of the European missionaries. But while nobody drinks kava there today, we have good reasons to believe that their forests still have some of the ancient local cultivars and hence we wanted to try to find them. We weren't very successful (i.e. didn't manage to find the actual plants), but found people who might be able to assist us with future searches and/or even send us some samples. On the way back to Auckland I had a bit of time so I finally managed to read a series of articles by Kirk Huffman, a prominent anthropologist and a respected expert on kava's history, culture and modern use. Kirk presents a very interesting overview of kava's history and effects as well as a thought-provoking account of the developments that led to kava's increasing popularity and the so-called "ban" in Europe (now lifted).

I thought you might find some of his observations interesting, so I've collected a few longer quotes:

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