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Kava Frequently Asked Questions

What is kava root?

Kava root comes from the kava kava plant; a plant that is in the pepper family. It originates from the South Pacific Islands. Kava root is harvested, dried, and ground into a powder that is used to make a kava root tea.
Kava is all-natural and has been a popular drink throughout Polynesia and Melanesia for centuries. It is gaining popularity in the US as an all-natural way to ease stress and wind down at the end of the day. In the South Pacific, drinking kava is an integral part of traditional religious and cultural ceremonies and important village social occasions. Historically kava was also prepared and drank for medicinal purposes. Learn more about kava here.

What does kava do?

The Latin name for the kava kava plant is Piper Methysticum which translates as intoxicating pepper. The active ingredients in kava, known as kavalactones, interact with the limbic system of the brain. This includes the amygdala, the part of the limbic system that regulates emotions. As a result, Kava is well known to have a relaxing effect on the mind and body.

How do you make kava tea?

Traditionally, you prepare a drink of kava like you might brew a tea. Add the kava root powder to a straining bag, for example, a muslin cloth. It doesn’t matter what kind of straining bag you use. Sometimes even women’s pantyhose are used as straining bags. Then steep the bag in warm water to begin a kava tea brew. The difference between kava root tea and regular tea is the kneading required to extract the good stuff from the root; the bag is kneaded in the water. This releases the active ingredients and turns the water a muddy brown color. Kava doesn’t look, or even taste good – but it feels good!

Continue the kneading process until the tea is brewed. The surface of the water will be slightly shining.  And all that is left in the straining bag are the coarse fibers of the root. These are either discarded or set aside for a subsequent rinsing and kneading, (a second wash), to create a weaker second brew.

View detailed instructions for preparing kava the traditional way.

How does kava make you feel?

When you drink good quality, potent kava the first thing you feel is your lips and mouth going slightly numb. This is normal. One of the active ingredients in kava has analgesic effects. The numbing is a sign you are drinking a good kava.

When you drink kava you are likely to feel calm and content, a greater sense of wellbeing, happier, and perhaps even euphoric. Any feelings of fear, worry, or stress will diminish. Any troublesome thoughts racing through your mind will slow down. Your muscles will start to relax, your body will start to feel heavy and eventually, you may start to feel sleepy.

How kava makes you feel will also depend greatly on the variety, quality and type of kava you drink. Higher quality,   fresher kava is more potent. The effects of drinking kava tea are also determined by the variety of kava and its mix of kavalactones or active ingredients. The mix of kavalactones is identified by a chemotype that is given to each kava variety.

How long does kava take to kick-in?

You’ll generally start to feel it kick in 5-15 minutes after drinking a shell of kava root tea. The first sensation you’ll feel is a numbing of the lips, tongue, and mouth. You can then expect to start feeling mental and physical relaxation soon after that. It is recommended that you drink kava on an empty stomach to ensure you feel its effects. If you drink kava on a full stomach, the effects may not kick-in.

There are other reasons the effects of kava may not kick-in when you first start to drink it. Kava works with your body to produce its effects and sometimes that means your body will take time to adjust to receiving the active ingredients in the kava before it responds. In this instance, you may not feel the effects of kava until you’ve been drinking kava for a few days or even weeks consecutively. This is known as Reverse Tolerance.

How long do the effects of kava last?

How long the effects of kava root tea last depends on the variety of kava. A good heady kava variety should uplift your mood and make you feel happier within 30 minutes. The euphoric and uplifting effects of a good quality kava may last for anywhere between 1-3 hours while the stress relieving and relaxing effects may linger even longer.

Heavier varieties of kava have more prolonged effects. After a few hours, you may start to feel sleepy as your muscles relax and your body starts to feel heavy.

How long the effects of kava last will also depend on how many kava drinks you have. You can have more than one serving size in a kava drinking session. Read our tips for getting the best effects from your kava drinking experience.

Is kava root safe?

Kava, if consumed correctly, is very safe. The World Health Organization’s Codex Alimentarius concluded that kava has had at least a 1500-year history of relatively safe use and that kava as a traditional beverage is safe for human consumption. Kava consumption is self-limiting. If you drink too much kava you will start to feel nauseous – it’s kava’s way of telling you, you’ve had enough for the night. Excessive daily consumption of kava over a long period of time can lead to minor dry or itchy skin known as Kava Dermopathy. This is a completely reversible instance and the simple solution is to take a break from drinking kava for a while.
One European Study that concluded that kava was linked to liver damage led people to wonder whether kava tea is safe was later refuted for its bad science. Unfortunately, the prevalence of misinformation stemming from that study dominates online and regularly turns up in badly researched articles. Learn more. There have been a very, very small number of instances of kava being linked to liver damage. As with any herbal or pharmaceutical substance, there is always the possibility of an adverse reaction and the risk of a person being allergic to the product. But this is extremely rare. However, anyone with pre-existing liver problems is advised not to drink kava.

In Summary

Now you’ve read these FAQs, follow our recommended dos and don’ts for drinking kava and you’ll be sure to have a safe and happy kava drinking experience.

Any other questions? Email us at info@kalmwithkava.com for more kava root information.

Refer to these other online resources and forums to learn more about kava root, the benefits of, and the best ways to drink kava.

Kava Reddit


Note: These statements about Kava effects have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information and our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Before starting a dietary supplement, it’s always wise to check with a medical doctor to find out which is the best kava variety for you. It is especially important for people who are: pregnant or breastfeeding, chronically ill, elderly, under 18, taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

None of the information is intended to be an enticement to purchase and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Herbal products contain phytochemicals that are not ordinarily found in typical food sources and may produce physiological effects. Indiscriminate use of any herbal product is not recommended except under the direction of trained health care professionals. In addition, there may be drug interactions that may produce reactions or interfere with the efficacy of prescription medication.

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