Chill Out With Psychedelic Water

Americans’ fascination with psychedelics is greater than ever despite the fact that federal authorities still ban most substances in this space. An increasing number of companies have focused on drug discovery, research and medical applications of psychedelics as interest continues to spike. As the social stigma surrounding psychedelics slowly fades away, Psychedelic Water is using legal ingredients that aim to open up conversations and shine a light on the many benefits of psychedelic substances.

The Toronto-based company has US headquarters in Delaware and is setting the bar high when it comes to alternative beverages. Their non-alcoholic psychedelic beverage comes in four flavors, sold in 12-ounce cans, and features kava, damiana leaf extract and green tea leaf extract. The trio of ingredients is designed to replicate the euphoria-inducing effects of psychedelics, without the hallucinations.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth on the pharma and research side of psychedelics, but we wanted to do something that was more on the consumer side of the business,” said Pankaj Gogia, CEO of Psychedelic Water. “Getting this product to the market helps get the general public to start caring and trying to understand more about psychedelics.”

A Clean and Healthy Buzz

Branded as an alternative to alcohol for consumers who are sober-curious, the vegan and non-GMO beverage combines a stimulating buzz with a soothing calm to sharpen focus while reducing anxiety, Gogia said, thanks to a meticulously crafted blend of three FDA-compliant compounds. Kava, which comes from the piper methysticum plant in the South Pacific, is a popular relaxant that residents of Tonga and the Marquesas Islands have enjoyed for generations. The compounds found in the plant produce much of the same effects as alcohol, making users feel calm and happy. Kava is also thought to relieve pain, prevent seizures and relax muscles.

Damiana, a wild shrub that grows in parts of Mexico, Central America and the West Indies, was historically thought to be an aphrodisiac and is now widely used as a natural stimulant for mood support and improved mental and physical stamina. Green tea is loaded with healthy antioxidants which help improve brain function, assist with weight loss, protect against cancer and lower the risk of heart disease.

Together, the ingredients produce “a clean and healthy” buzz that’s Kosher, non-alcoholic, free of added sugars, and low calorie, said Brandon Samuel, Psychedelic Water’s director of operations who played a key role in formulating the beverage.

“We wanted something approachable that could be sold as a health and wellness product,” Samuel said. “These are ingredients that provide proven health benefits but also tangible effects that won’t mess you up in the same way alcohol does.”

Samuel emphasized that the product is not only for psychedelic diehards looking to find the closest legal equivalent to shrooms, LSD and Ketamine. 

Some people enjoy Psychedelic Water as a mid-day pick-me-up. Its mood-elevating effects can put you in a good headspace, and the infusion of naturally-derived caffeine helps fend off the dreaded three o’clock slump. Psychedelic Water is truly perfect for people engaged in creative or stressful work where energy and a positive mentality are essential. Others consume Psychedelic Water socially, at a party or before going out to loosen up without experiencing the intoxicating effects of alcohol. The drink is ideal for the sober and “sober curious” who may be searching for alcohol-free alternatives. Psychedelic Water works as a nightcap, too: a cross between a relaxing glass of wine and a hit from a joint, just without the mental fuzziness or next-day hangover.

“It helps people loosen up and excite their senses without the mental inhibition,” he explained.

Rapid Growth Since 2021 Launch

Psychedelic Water cans

The company’s holographic silver-colored cans with “PSYCHEDELIC” written in giant capital letters are impossible to miss on the shelves of over 500 brick-and-mortar stores across the US. Psychedelic Water also sells its four flavors—Blackberry + Yuzu, Hibiscus + Lime, Oolong + Orange Blossom and Prickly Pear—on a number of popular online platforms, including Amazon and Walmart.

It’s not uncommon for beverage companies to go all-in for years, if not decades, just to achieve that kind of retail footprint. Yet Psychedelic Water managed to do so in less than 18 months.

The brand’s product development team spent six months crafting a simple yet powerful formula before the company officially launched in February 2021. An initial supply of 50,000 cans, expected to last at least three months, sold out in just two weeks, Gogia said. The success continued from there as Psychedelic Water partnered with TikTok influencers and #psychedelicwater now boasts over 16 million views on the platform.

The end of last year saw Psychedelic Water land in retail chains Erewhon and Foxtrot. This past March, clothing brand Urban Outfitters started selling the beverage in 130 locations, before bringing it to all 550 U.S locations in July following a strong growth in sales.

Gogia says his company has no plans to stop expanding its retail and e-commerce presence. It’s all part of a mission to spread what he calls “the gospel of psychedelics.”

“We’re helping to destigmatize these substances,” he said. “We’re waking people up to the ways they can benefit both body and mind.”

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A Trip Through the Booming Industry of Semi-Psychedelic Products

Though psychedelics won’t be legalized in the United States any time soon, a beverage containing psychoactive substances can now be consumed without fear of persecution. Distributed by retailer Urban Outfitters, of all businesses, Psychedelic Water is not going to make you feel like you’ve taken DMT or even LSD. However, its main ingredients more or less belong to the same taxonomic family.

Launched in February 2021, Psychedelic Water can be purchased at Urban Outfitter stores across the country, including states where cannabis is still considered a schedule 1 narcotic. Beverages are also sold on the brand’s own website, where chrome-colored cans go for $33,- per six pack. Flavors include Prickly Pear, Oolong + Orange Blossom, Hibiscus + Lime, and Blackberry + Yuzu.

Urban Outfitters is but one of many corporations trying to carve out a space for itself in the up and coming psychedelics market. Back in April, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel hosted the very first Benzinga Psychedelics Capital Conference. Under the heat of the scorching Florida sun, entrepreneurs speed-dated with investors from Big Pharma and Silicon Valley to see if, together, they could take America’s psychedelics industry “to the next level.”

It’s an industry with several faces. On the one hand, there’s activists campaigning for the recreational usage of LSD, MDMA, ketamine and any other psychedelics under the sun. On the other, there are rogue researchers hoping to use these drugs not for fun, but to develop revolutionary treatments for physical and mental illnesses. Last but not least, there are companies that promote products made using less potent and—crucially—legal varieties of psychedelics.

These varieties can be found in tinctures, topicals, eye drops and other concoctions whipped up by forward-thinking wellness and beauty brands. Like homeopathic remedies, they are said to cleanse auras, remove negative emotions and stimulate lucid dreaming. They might include Mucuna pruriens—a legume that contains a type of DMT—or boa vine, one of the main ingredients of ayahuasca.

Mucuna pruriens / Shutterstock

It’s also one of the main ingredients in Lun, an oral tincture sold by the wellness company Soul Drops. “With only a few drops per day,” their website declares, “Soul Drops can empower your self-healing and optimization. Our clients report that they feel healthier, positive, energetic, emotionally balanced, focused, creative, inspired, calm, relaxed, intuitive, and grounded.”

Most legal psychedelic products, however, come in the form of beverages. This should not come as a surprise, as the market for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages is bigger, busier, and more lucrative than ever before. Products competing in this market must cater to an increasingly fragmented audience: Spiked seltzers are for college students who want to get shitfaced without gaining weight; CBD-infused beers allow stoners to drink with non-stoner friends; LaCroix is for disillusioned office workers who’ve already had their 10th cup of coffee.

Psychedelic Water, says CEO Pankaj Gogia, is “for the people who are interested in, unsure about, or unfamiliar with psychedelics.” Gogia tells High Times their product acts as an “entry point into the wider world of these substances and their many benefits” and resonates with those “who just want to sip on something that tastes good, makes you feel good, is better for you than alcohol, and won’t have you texting your ex or waking up with a hangover.”

The three ingredients that make Psychedelic Water psychedelic are kava, damiana and green tea leaf extract. Kava, the supposed star of the show, is a plant native to the South Pacific that—when grounded, mixed with water, and taken in small doses—relaxes the muscles and produces a feeling of euphoria without impairing your cognition. Aboriginal Australians have been brewing kava for centuries, for ceremonial purposes. Kava bars have also become popular in major American cities.

Kava / Shutterstock

Damiana is a shrub native to Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. Its leaf and stem can be fashioned into a homeopathic medicine that treats headaches, constipation, stomach cramps, bedwetting, and depression, as well as bladder, urinary and sexual problems. It is also used as an aphrodisiac, boosting arousal in both men and women. Damiana causes a subtle high that nicely compliments kava.

Last but not least: green tea leaf extract. Though not psychedelic, the extract is a natural source of caffeine. This caffeine is used to balance out the effects of kava, a depressant which can leave you feeling tired and lethargic. When mixed, these three ingredients produce a sensation which—though vastly different from weed or alcohol—is nonetheless suitable for social settings.

The public image of psychedelic substances is changing rapidly. During the War on Drugs, they were presented as dangerous and addictive. Modern research has dispelled this myth, with drugs like ketamine now being used to treat depression, PTSD, and other forms of mental illness. At the same time, Netflix documentaries like Fantastic Fungi, Have a Good Trip and How to Change Your Mind are trying to normalize recreational usage.

And yet, despite these major developments, many people remain hesitant. This is, admittedly, kind of understandable. In the not-so-distant past, the only way to start exploring psychedelics was to jump in the deep-end, popping a pill at a music festival and praying to God for a good trip. Nowadays, you can start your journey by cracking open a can on your couch while pacing yourself with every sip.

Gogia says Psychedelic Water makes him feel “similar to the way I feel about five minutes after ingesting some psilocybin. There’s this short window, prior to visuals beginning to kick in, where I just feel nice. This wave of relaxation and positive feelings roll over me (…) Psychedelic Water takes that feeling and holds it.”

To be clear, Psychedelic Water will not cause you to see any kaleidoscopic visuals. Or, at least, it isn’t meant to. Instead, the beverage was designed to capture some of the milder and subtler effects of conventional psychedelics and allow consumers to experience them in a new way.

If you prefer your drinks hot, you might want to turn to Third Eye Tonic, a lucid dream-inducing tea offered by Anima Mundi Herbals. It’s made up of nervines, or plants that are consumed to support the nervous system. Ingredients include kava, passionflower, organic skullcap, and blue lotus, the latter of which targets the same receptors as MDMA and, when prepared in a slightly different way, causes hallucinations. “[These plants] basically lay the foundation for you to secrete your own chemicals yourself,” Anima Mundi’s Costa Rican founder, Adriana Ayales, told the trade publication Beauty Independent.

As exciting as these semi-legal psychedelic products are, they do raise a couple questions. Do these products offer any real, tangible benefits, or are the fleeting sensations they produce just placebos? Are some of these companies actually steeped in indigenous traditions, or are they merely exploiting them for monetary gain? It’s been known to happen elsewhere, with North American mezcal producers faking their Mexican heritage. Also some of these down-to-earth beauty brands, which supposedly contain water from the Amazon river, don’t sound particularly sustainable.

Psychedelic Water has also been scrutinized by the press. As MEL magazine points out in their review of Psychedelic Water, “doctors aren’t sure how much kava a person can safely consume.” Scholarly articles identified a possible link with long-term liver damage, a discovery that led countries like Australia, Canada, France, and Germany to issue warnings or even ban over-the-counter sales.

Gogia is intimately familiar with these articles, which were published during the late 90s and early 2000s, when attitudes towards kava were still shaped by the War on Drugs. “In the majority of these accounts,” he tells High Times, “other factors such as alcohol consumption and use of certain medications are relevant, as well as consumption of improperly harvested and stored kava.”

As production quality improved over the past few decades, the connection between kava and liver damage was again called into question. This time, studies reached different results. As early as 2004, an evaluation of Food Standards Australia New Zealand determined “there is no evidence that occasional use of kava beverage is associated with any long-term adverse effects, including effects on the liver.”

Their conclusion was reiterated as recently as 2016 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which stated that “on balance, the weight-of-evidence from both a long history of use of kava beverage and from the more recent research findings indicates that it is possible for kava beverage to be consumed with an acceptably low level of health risk.”

These concerns stem from the same social stigma that’s surrounded psychoactive substances since the 70s. Gogia and his colleagues know the stigma won’t disappear overnight. Still, they hope the success of Psychedelic Water might speed up the process a little: “We feel having a psychedelic-branded product on the shelves of your local convenience store, between cans of Red Bull and jugs of milk, could have a significant impact on the public perception and normalization of psychedelics.”

The post A Trip Through the Booming Industry of Semi-Psychedelic Products appeared first on High Times.

All About Kava: Natural, Psychoactive, and Legal

One aspect of humanity that I feel deserves more praise, is our seemingly innate ability to find different ways to alter our states of consciousness. No matter where you are in the world or what time period you’re looking at, you’ll find that people have always been drawn to intoxicating substances. There is documented use of cannabis, psilocybin, opium, tobacco, coca, and so many other plants that dates back over 10,000 years

Despite centuries of recorded drug use, most of these substances and compounds are prohibited today. With the exception of alcohol, and cannabis in some regions, the options for a legal but fulfilling high are quite limited. However, there is one lesser-known substance that checks all the boxes – it’s psychoactive, completely legal, safe, and growing in popularity. The product in question: Kava. 

We cover everything important in the emerging industry of psychedelics, which you can read about in The Psychedelics Weekly Newsletter. Keep up with everything going on, and be the first to get access to new deals for psychedelic products as they come in.

What is Kava? 

Kava, or Kava Kava (Piper methysticum), is a type of pepper plant originating from the South Pacific. It’s medicinal, non-addictive, and has a very good safety profile. It grows in tropical climates and can reach a height of 6 feet with large heart-shaped leaves. The root of the plant is used to make the intoxicating drink it’s infamous for. 

Also known as asava pepper or ‘intoxicating pepper’, Kava has been used for centuries to treat various ailments including pain, mental disorders, rheumatism, infections, insomnia, and migraines. It’s also used ceremoniously in some regions like Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, and Hawaii. 

Traditionally, it’s consumed as a beverage, as has been the case for centuries; but now you can find it in a few different forms such as powders and supplements. In the early 2000s, kava was briefly banned in the EU, following a now disproven study claiming that kava could cause liver damage. The ban did effect kava use statewide as well, although it was never officially prohibited here. The EU ultimately repealed the ban as well, and the only country where it remains illegal is Poland.  

The Kava High 

When you try kava for the first time, you’ll immediately notice its unique flavor, which is a combination of bitter, spicy, and earthy – described as tasting like “muddy water”. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but similar to liquor, people usually don’t sip on kava. It’s often taken in shots until the desired level of intoxication is reached. 

Kava can be used medicinally or recreationally, depending on the dose and strain (there are over 100 known varieties). It can help with anxiety, make users feel relaxed, happy, carefree, giddy, and euphoric, and some people even report mild hallucinations at higher doses of certain strains. Some people say it makes them feel “drunk” but without the confusion and sickness associated with alcohol.  

The active ingredients in Kava that are responsible for these effects are called Kavalactones. These sticky, insoluble molecules pass through the bloodstream, making it act as a muscle relaxant; and they also bind with receptors in the limbic system, which is the area of our brains most associated with regulating emotion and behavior. Kavain is the most notable kavalactone, and it’s the one that is usually most heavily concentrated in the root of the plant.  

Legality and medical benefits   

In the US, Kava is legal and regulated as a dietary supplement. It’s actually one of the few intoxicating substances that’s legal in nearly every country in the world (except Poland, as stated above). Because of the aforementioned and contested study from 2002 claiming that Kava might cause liver damage (it does not), some local municipalities have enacted laws to restrict its possession and distribution.  

To clarify a bit more on the liver damage angle. The EU reported that they had records of 30 deaths (ever) that may have been caused by Kava, but could not prove a direct link to it. Conversely, liver cirrhosis, which is a form late-stage scarring of the liver resulting from excessive damage is responsible for roughly 170,000 deaths in Europe annually. In total, 49.5% of cirrhosis deaths are alcohol-related. But sure, go ahead and ban Kava instead of alcohol (eyeroll).

On a more positive note, a handful of studies indicate that kavalactones in kava can be used to treat a myriad of different health conditions. It’s most commonly utilized as a natural remedy for anxiety, and a decent amount of research exists to back up this use. Specifically, a 2013 clinical study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that kava had “significantly reduced symptoms in people diagnosed with general anxiety disorder”. 

Additionally, kava is natural and safe, especially in comparison to other recreational and prescription drugs, many of which are synthetic with high levels of toxicity. A kava overdose is relatively unheard of, and long-term effects (either good or bad) have not been adequately documented, although some regular users report gastrointestinal issues. On the flip side, anecdotal evidence suggests that Kava is effective for treating issues with addiction, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and more.  

“Drinking kava in moderation doesn’t produce any discernible side effects,” says leading kava expert Dr. Vincent Lebot, who’s based in Vanuatu, a Pacific Island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. “The beverage can be very diluted and hardly any effect will be produced, or it can be very strong, and it is recommended to stay home and not drive.” 

What kind of Kava products are out there? 

When it comes to Kava products, there are quite a few to choose from. These days, kava root powder is the most popular, because it’s made from dried and powdered kava root without any additional processing. It’s as close to natural as you can get, and the powder form makes it very versatile as far as product production goes. In that same vein, a similar product is instant kava powder, which is designed to be added to warm water and made into a beverage, although this may have additional ingredients added.

Another common and convenient way to take your kava is in capsules. They offer simplicity, consistency, and discretion, because they can be kept in a purse or pocket and taken at any time. Kava tinctures are somewhat similar, in the sense that they are discreet and easy to use and dose. They consist of kavalactone extract mixed with water and a small amount of alcohol or glycerin, often taken sublingually.  

And last but not least, are prepared kava drinks. Taste-wise, this is about as close to traditional as you’re going to find. The reason this option is less popular than powder comes down to price. Kava powders are much more affordable and can often be purchased in bulk. Now, don’t get this confused with “kava tea”. I have found that most companies claiming they add kava to their tea are doing it simply as a marketing tool.  

The fact of the matter is, the active ingredients in kava are fat-soluble, not water-soluble – meaning steeping a kava-infused tea bag won’t pull out as many active compounds as prepared drinks that use milk or some other type of fat. Prepared kava drinks are made with kavalactone extracts, flavorings, stabilizing agents, and in some cases, other herbs and supplements. 


If you’ve made it this far and you’re curious about trying Kava for yourself, then by all means, give it a shot! You can check out this list of vendors, that I personally have found to be very helpful. Since Kava is federally legal, it’s much easier to get ahold of than other substances. You can order it online and have it delivered to anywhere in the United States. Add to that, there are a growing number of Kava bars popping up in some of the larger US cities, so if you’re near one, it might be worth stopping by to check it out. When it comes to natural, legal highs, you won’t find much that compares to kava. 

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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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