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What is Micronized Kava?

November 05, 2021

When you hear the word “micronized,” what do you think of? Does it make you think of something that is tiny? You know, like a microchip. Or maybe it makes you think of those teeny tiny vehicles called Micro Machines.


If you’re a Marvel fan, something else or someone else may come to mind. (It’s totally okay to admit if you, too, have seen each Marvel movie multiple times.) You know exactly which character I am alluding to. This guy is big one second and tiny the next. 

Still no clue? Come on, people. He rides on a flying ant … 


It’s Ant-Man. Please tell me you figured out it was Ant-Man. Who else could it possibly be?!


The guy shrinks down small enough to ride on the back of an ant. Heck, he can even reduce to the sub-atomic level. He’s micro! 


“Micro” means small and “ize” means to make. So basically, micronize means to make something small. 


(Some of us may already be thinking, I sure would like to micronize some fat cells.)


Micronization is used quite a bit in pharmaceuticals. When medications are micronized, it allows them to be better absorbed into our bodies transdermally (through the skin) and it also means that those medications have a higher bioavailability. A higher bioavailability means it makes its way more easily through cell membranes in the body. 


Now that you will never forget what micronized means, it’s time to discuss the matter at hand: micronized kava. 

 

What is Micronized Kava?

Micronized kava is small kava. The end.


Just kidding. 


Seriously, you have probably figured out that micronized kava is exactly what it sounds like, miniaturized kava particles. And you’d be right if we were painting this with an extremely broad brush stroke. 


But that’s boring. Let’s break it down.

Micronized kava has been reduced to very small, fine kava particles. The kava has been ground down so much that it is a powder that can be mixed into a liquid. So, you can take the kava powder and just stir it into whichever beverage you choose.


But how on earth do you even get kava, let alone micronized kava?


The Roots of Micronized Kava

Kava is not a magic mushroom. It isn’t a sacred flower that grows on the side of a mountain. It is a native plant that grows in the Pacific Islands and is otherwise known by its scientific name of piper methysticum.


While many plants would utilize the leaves for flavor and effect, kava leaves are not the part of the plant you want to put to use. The Pacific Island natives know they want to take the kava plant by the root for the results they desire. 


Generation after generation, the natives taught one another to crush or pound the root of the kava plant. Once it was somewhat pulverized, they would mix the mashed substance with their own spit or water … and then strain it into a bowl. The resulting liquid would then be consumed.


Let’s just get this out of the way. Mixing kava powder with spit is not going to help you live your best life. Just because your great-great-great-grandfather from Fiji mixed his kava with a big old glob of spit, it doesn’t mean you should. Stick with clean water for a safer bet.


Kava has come a long way since the Pacific ancestors first began using it. Today, it is used around the world. In order to make that happen, the kava has been processed much more thoroughly to ensure the highest quality. 


When kava is harvested by hand, it is only effective for three or four days. That begs the question: How do people in other parts of the world use kava effectively? Well, the harvesting and processing methods have been updated. 


These days, the kava root is dried first, next it is ground into a very fine powder, and then it can be sent to different countries without losing its quality.


Those are the basics of creating micronized kava. But we have just scratched the surface. It’s time to dig a little deeper into micronized kava.


Micronized Kava Components

After kava has been ground down into a powder, there are three things that are easy to spot, especially if the grind on your kava is medium. Remember all of the positive results we want from kava can only be found through grinding the roots. The leaves and stems are not what you want.


The 3 Components

Root Flesh: This is the soft part of the root. It may appear to be powder-like

Root Skin: This is obviously the skin of the root. It’s darker in color from the flesh, but it isn’t noticeable as long as it’s dry. When the powder is mixed with water, the color contrast will be more apparent.

Makas: First we had the flesh, then we had the skin, now we have the makas. The makas are usually removed. But what are they??


Let’s talk makas. 

The roots of the kava plant grow very long and extend parallel to the ground where it’s growing. Those roots tend to have some very hard, coarse fibers. It is those hard fibers that are referred to as makas. 


When the makas are not removed from the kava, they will make their way into the drink that is eventually consumed by someone. For some people, this is an issue. Those sturdy makes can be very hard to digest. This is a contributing factor to the reasoning for the removal of those makas during the micronization process.


If they are not removed, then you can definitely notice the makas present in the ground kava powder. The little globs of fibers are the makas and they can be strained out without a problem.


When you buy kava powder with makas in it, it will add considerable weight to the powder. So, straining them out cuts the weight out. But no worries. You can buy micronized kava that has been pre-strained. 


A micronized kava will differ from medium-grind kava in the size of these three components. The micronized kava will have tiny, micron particles of kava that blend better. Medium-grind kava will have much bigger particles that will not blend well and requires straining to remove the makas.


A true quality micronized kava will not contain makas. They will already be removed. If there are makas, then it is a medium grind and not authentic micronized kava.


How Are Makas Removed from the Kava Powder?

There are two basic options for removing makas. You can either remove them immediately after harvesting the kava, or you can get rid of the makas after the kava has been dried and ground into a powder.

The benefit of removing makas immediately following the harvest is that you’re more likely to effectively get rid of all the makas without accidentally squandering the good parts. Plus, getting rid of those tough fibers on the front end makes it much easier to process the kava until it reaches the micronized kava level.


But. It’s also the most expensive way to remove those darn makas. It’s much easier to get the makas out after the kava is dried and in powder form. You can’t really get all of the makas when you do it later, so it does take longer to remove them. 


The bottom line is that the fewer makas present, the better the kava.


Kavalactones

Kavalactones are present in the root flesh, root skin, and makas. So what? What’s the big deal about kavalactones? Well, without kavalactones, kava is basically just another ground-up root.


People drink kava for a reason. They drink it for its calming and relaxing effects. That is exactly what the kavalactones do. The makas have the least amount of kavalactones, so that’s one more reason to remove those tough little suckers!


How Do You Know if Your Micronized Kava is High Quality?

Well, it’s pretty clear at this point that if your kava has makas, it’s not the highest quality. Makas in the kava  =  low-quality kava. 


If you have ordered yourself some kava powder, take a peek inside the bag. Are there clumps that seem hard? Or do you have flakes floating on the top of your kava drink? Bad news. That’s some cruddy kava.


The absolute best kava comes fresh from the ground. Fresh is always the best. If you have not visited an island in the South Pacific to drink your kava, then you have not had the world’s freshest kava. 


That doesn’t mean you cannot get your hands on high-quality kava. You can. Ü Relax has excellently prepared kava for you in a 4 oz tonic.


All this talk about micronized kava powder makes it sound like instant coffee. Instant kava takes that heavier kava to an even finer level, making the kava particles so very, very fine that they blend much better into their carrier liquid.


A smoother instant micronized kava will cost more money because they will use a higher quality noble kava and spend more time and labor processing the kava root to remove the makas and get the purest kava possible.


Alrighty, so you will want to keep an eye out for these things to check on the quality of your kava:

  • Drink texture: If your kava drink feels like you’re drinking that sandy liquid you have to ingest before an upper GI test, then that gritty stuff will probably make you gag and it shouldn’t make the average person gag. It might be a little gritty, but not gag-ish.
  • The Makas are Floating: If makas are floating, just pour it out. That is the worst.
  • The Clear Glass Test: When you pour your prepared micronized kava drink into a glass, there should be no dark particles floating around.

In the End …

Micronized kava is super tiny kava particles that contain very few or no makas. Many kavas you will find are not going to be the best quality kava. You will absolutely want to do your research and check your kava for makas.


To make things easier and more convenient, you can always drink a prepared kava beverage that has other clinically proven ingredients, like Ü Relax. It is smooth in texture with a delicious fruity flavor and has the added benefits of soothing chamomile, ashwagandha, lemon balm, and L-theanine.