How Kava makes you happy, (not high)

May 23, 2017

kava happy not highPeople are increasingly turning to drinking kava to boost their mood and make them feel happier. They are discovering that it is a great alternative to alcohol for social relaxation.

People become interested in drinking kava when they are looking for a natural way to relax and have fun socially that doesn’t involve drinking alcohol, or taking prescription / regulated drugs. The questions they ask are focused on directly comparing the effects of kava to those of alcohol and drugs. For example:

  • How will kava make me feel? Will kava make me high?
  • When will it kick in? When will the effects wear off?
  • What’s the dosage with kava? How much kava should I take?

Kava is totally different from alcohol and drugs. It is a plant-based, natural remedy for enhancing one’s mood. That makes answering these questions, as framed, harder to respond to. Below we do our best to provide answers. Here’s the real information that anyone new to kava needs to know.

Will kava make me high?

The kava community and kava aficionados prefer not to use the term “getting high” when referencing the effects of kava. This is a term most closely associated with federally regulated drugs, including marijuana, which continues to be illegal in many states. Kava is not a drug, it is not regulated by the DEA and is not illegal in the United States. It is correctly categorized as an herbal supplement. To avoid any confusion that might lead to kava being perceived as a drug, we use a different language to describe how kava makes you feel.  When people ask ‘will kava get me high?’, what they really want to know is whether kava will make them feel good. It will.

Effects of Kava consumption include an increased sense of emotional wellbeing and calm. Kava is a natural mood elevator. It lifts peoples’ spirits. People who drink kava describe feeling immediately happier. Some even talk of kava euphoria. And, when people feel happy they are more inclined to want to socialize, go out and have fun.  This is why kava is becoming increasingly popular as a drink for social relaxation.

Kava Euphoria: The Kava High

Kava drink effects are both mental (heady) and physical (heavy). With most kavas the mental relaxation precedes the physical relaxation. There are many different varieties of kava and each cultivar has a different balance of heady and heavy effects depending on its particular mix of active ingredients, (kavalactones). Heady kavas are calming and will also tend to give you a boost of energy, help you lose your inhibitions and make you more talkative – making them the better kava to drink for social relaxation. When people describe kava euphoria they are most likely referring to the effects that can come from drinking a heady kava.

Kava does not impair mental clarity.

Kava relaxes the mind & body, but it doesn’t impair cognition. When you drink kava,you are not likely to slip into a brain fog, slur your words or talk gibberish, as can happen if you drink too much alcohol.

Similarly, kava is not associated with aggression or aggressive behavior, quite the opposite. A drink of kava will generally chill you out and put you at peace with the world. This is one of the reasons kava has been traditionally used in tribal negotiations and drunk on ceremonial occasions on the South Pacific Islands. Kava drinking is also part of the culture of the Hawaiian Islands – well known for their relaxed ‘aloha’ vibe.

Given all the positive effects of kava, it is easy to understand why kava bars have opened up all over the country. And people are flocking to them for a social night out with friends, just as residents of Vanuatu have been gathering in ‘nakamals’, to do the same for centuries.

*Pro Tip: if drinking kava in the evening, dim the lights as drinking kava can make you more light sensitive. Kava Bars often have comforting low lights and light music to fully enjoy the kava experience.

Kava Happy 2How long do the effects of kava last?

Here’s a description of a typical kava drinking experience.

A few minutes after drinking kava, the first thing you’ll notice is a numbing sensation in the mouth for a minute or two. This is good news. It is a sign that you are drinking a high quality kava with the power to relax you naturally.

The real effects of drinking kava will start to kick-in 15-20 minutes after you’ve consumed a shell or cup of kava. You’ll first start to feel a calming of your mind and a sense of peace, tranquility and happiness . This will be followed by a release of any muscle tension as a relaxing heaviness seeps through your body. The extent to which you experience each of these effects will depend on the variety of kava you are drinking and your own body chemistry. These mellowing effects will last for around hour to 90 minutes at which point you can choose whether to drink another shell, cup or serving.

*Pro Tip: Kava is ALWAYS most effective on an empty or near empty stomach. Many people will not feel the effects of kava if consumed close after a large meal. It’s recommended to drink kava 3-4 hours after eating. A small amount of people will feel slight nausea when drinking kava on a totally empty stomach and prefer to eat a piece of fruit or small snack before or after their first shell to eliminate this.

What’s the dosage? How much can I drink?

Drugs have a dosage referenced in milligrams. Alcohol is measured in fluid ounces. And when it comes to drinking kava we talk about serving size. When trying kava for the first time we always recommend you follow the instructions listed on the product to prepare your drink. Generally speaking, 3 Tablespoons of traditional kava root powder or 1 Tablespoon on Instant/Micronized Kava is considered a serving size. These are mixed with 8-12 ounces of water or juice to make your kava drink.

After trying kava a few times you’ll soon gauge how a single serving affects you. As you become a regular kava drinker and gain more experience of the beverage. You’ll discover your own personal kava drinking preferences – what kava gives you the effects you are looking for and how many servings is best.

*Pro Tip: Kava has a unique built in mechanism to let someone know it they’ve had enough – if you start to get a little dizzy or slight nausea, its kava’s way of telling you that’s enough for the night.

How to prepare kava teaReverse tolerance: two cups of kava for first time drinkers

When you drink kava for the first time you may not immediately feel any effects. This is because of something called reverse tolerance. The more you drink kava, your body adapts and slowly reacts to produce the desired mind and body relaxation effects. Sometimes, a double serving the first time you drink kava will similarly allow you to feel these positive benefits. Essentially, your body needs to adjust and be trained to respond to the active ingredients in the root.

Kava bars often ask customers if this is their first time drinking kava. If the answer is yes, the customer is given an introductory offer of two kava cups for the price of one. The bar wants them to enjoy the relaxing effects of the beverage on their first visit so they will come back again.

If at home, you don’t want to drink two cups your first time, instead drink a cup a day for four days. Then see if you start to experience the effects.

*Pro Tip: Do not combine drinking kava and alcohol or drink kava if you are taking any anti-anxiety prescription medications or natural remedies as this can lead to negative side effects. Instead focus on experimenting with different types of kavas and preparation methods till you find the one that gives you the effect you are looking for.

Trying Kava

Try kava to experience and appreciate its effects for yourself. Check out our guide to buying kava for the first time and read this informative article on how to choose the kava that is right for you to begin.

Once you start drinking kava you’ll soon learn that a kava is not just comparable to a glass of wine or beer or a joint to unwind at the end of the day, it is much better – at least in our humble opinion!

If you have other questions about kava, feel free to email us directly at info@kalmwithkava.com

We look forward to hearing from you and helping to make your introduction to kava drinking smooth and easy.

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