Drinking kava and driving: what the science says

What does Science have to say about drinking kava and driving? According to Dr Apo Aporoso, a kava researchers at the University of Waikato in New Zealand interviewed by Australian media ABC, “a study testing driver reactions after a six-hour session of high-volume kava drinking found no statistically significant effect on driving ability.”

So it doesn’t seem to be as bad as alcohol, but the researcher still urges caution : “this is new science, we need to interpret this data cautiously. More testing using different techniques may show there is a degree of impairment, and Pacific people should be cautious about getting behind the wheel of a car after a heavy kava drinking session.”

In fact assuming that this study means it is totally safe to drink kava and drive “would be a very dangerous interpretation. We need to interpret this data very cautiously. I’m a kava user, I drink kava heavily, and I’m not saying that as soon as I drink kava I become dangerous, but I think there is something going on (in your brain). So we have to think of other drivers, friends and family that might be in our car… But from a scientific point of view this is very interesting, I hope we can find more funding and move on to the next level of (study).”

Most interestingly, Dr Apo Aporoso was a former cop. In his opinion, driving after drinking kava feels fine to the driver, and observing other drivers who drank kava, they don’t seem to show heavy symptoms of intoxication like swaying wildly or having low reflexes. But we said the same things of alcohol and cannabis before the research was done, so we have to expect the same thing might happen to kava.
Still, this is good news for those trying to legalize the commerce of kava worldwide, first of all the country of Vanuatu, one of the main producer of the root used to produce kava, the traditional relaxing beverage of the Pacific.
Picture : The Kava Drinkers by Graham Crumb (2011) (CC licence)

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