“Sweet Spot,” by Mike Sugerman

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – The Food and Drug Administration warns it can cause liver damage, some countries have banned it or made it available only by prescription, and they’re lapping it up by the bowlful in Brooklyn.

Kava – the South Pacific root made into a tea.

“Yeah the drink is great,” said Sabrina Cheng.

“Just like chamomile times 10,” Matt Gliva added.

It’s also called “nature’s Xanax.”

You might be surprised by the people who have tried it and very much like it.

“Kava is really a drug unlike any other drug that I’ve experienced,” said barista Tim McNesh.

Brooklyn Kava is one of three kava bars currently serving it in New York City. It’s a cozy place where regulars gather.

“I came here on a date about a year ago and I started coming every day since,” Gliva said. “My first time was very intense.”

“I have smoked marijuana, I have tried hallucinogenic, I was prescribed Adderall and Concerta when I was young, and kava is a field all of its own,” said McNesh.

“It’s more like a sense of euphoria than anything else, it’s calming,” Cheng said.

“It tastes absolutely disgusting but there’s something really special about the ritual of drinking it,” McNesh added.

Kava is not a controlled substance in the U.S. Canada and Germany have recently lifted bans they had on it.

It isn’t addictive, but liver problems can be associated with heavy use and the drink does come with warnings from the FDA.

“I do think that everything comes with a warning now. I mean, even a sponge for the sink has a warning on it,” said Gliva.

First timers initially notice the awful taste and antiseptic quality. Feeling the effects didn’t take long.

I felt much better than I thought I would – calm, relaxed, peaceful yet alert, too. I see why kava is coming on strong in its own, mellow way.

Find more from the “Sweet Spot” here.

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