Whether you’re new to the wonderful world of kava or are a well-traveled kava veteran, there’s always something new to learn about kava. It’s one of the things we love most about this beautiful plant! One topic that we frequently traverse with kava explorers is the subject of kava dosage.
Kava dosage, or the amount of kava to drink in a single serving or session, is a common topic from those inside and outside of the kava community. This is understandable. If you are new to drinking kava, you want to know how much kava to take, how much is too much, and whether several amounts of kava are ok to consume.
Here’s the truth of the matter: there is not an exact answer to this question. There are many factors that contribute to deciding on a kava dosage or serving size (the term we prefer at Kalm with Kava). So to help you feel more comfortable and confident when preparing and drinking your kava, we’ll review the factors that impact kava dosage. Read on below as we delve into the jungle of kava serving sizes.
5 Factors that Impact Kava Dosage
1. Kava Quality
Quality matters with everything, but especially with kava. The quality of kava you purchase impacts the potency of kava effects and the serving size you should consume. For example, a small dosage of a high-quality kava will provide better relaxation effects than the same dose of a poor-quality kava. So before you purchase a kava product, learn about the quality of the kava you will be consuming. Always buy kava from a reputable vendor or online supplier. It’s important for the vendor to have direct connections to the source of the kava root they are selling and consistently test for quality.
At Kalm with Kava, we directly source our kava from farmers in the Pacific Islands for premium quality, freshness, and superior kava effects. For those same reasons, we only source and sell 100% Noble kava. There are two main types: Noble and Tudei. The latter can have negative side effects like nausea and lethargy that can last up to two days. We recommend drinking Noble kava varieties only.
2. How Long Ago It Was Harvested
Freshly harvested, packaged, and sold kava also impacts how much the kava dosage. Kava that sits around for too long loses its potency, so you may need to take more of a weak product to get the same strength of effects as a fresh kava product. You don’t want to drink a kava that has been sitting in a warehouse for months.
3. Kava Variety
Remember to consider the variety of kava as you think about how much kava to drink. Each variety—e.g., Vanuatu Borogu, Tongan Pouni Ono, etc.—has different effects, and some are stronger than others. Kava varieties are broken out into three categories: heady, heavy, and balanced. Heady kavas have more uplifting, bubbliness-inducing kava effects, while heavy kavas help promote muscle relaxation and even drowsiness (making them great natural sleep aids). For example, Pouni Ono is heady kava that does not produce strong sedation, making it excellent for daytime drinking. On the other hand, Borongoru is a very heavy evening-type kava that produces strong relaxation effects and not the same effects heady kavas provide. Balanced kavas provide a mix of heady and heavy kava effects, so they can be enjoyed in smaller servings for heady effects and larger servings for heavy effects.
4. The Type of Kava Product
Different types of kava products vary in strength and potency, which can impact how much kava you consume. In terms of potency, traditionally prepared kava using medium grind kava root powder is the strongest we carry at Kalm with Kava. After that, the next strongest at Kalm with Kava would be micronized or instant kavas, followed by kava beverages made with kava concentrate.
5. Personal Preference
Again, much like with alcohol, your individual reaction to kava and your tolerance level will also influence the dosage and number of servings you drink in any given session. The best way to know how much kava to take is to experiment with varieties, serving sizes, and products, mixing up a brew of different strengths, trying more than one serving in a kava drinking session, etc.
Eventually, you’ll discover a kava dosage that is right for you. Take time to discover your own personal kava drinking preferences and which kava gives you the effects you are looking for. Ultimately, personal preference dictates how much kava to take.
A Good Rule of Thumb: Adhere to Recommended Serving Sizes
When it comes to kava dosages, a general best practice is to follow the recommended serving size for the kava product you purchase. At Kalm with Kava, we indicate a recommended serving size on the back of our kava products. Pay attention to the instructions on how to prepare and use the kava you buy to have an optimal kava experience.
Generally speaking, three tablespoons of our medium grind kava root powder brewed using 8-12 ounces of water makes a single serving of kava. That’s one drink for one person. If you are brewing a batch of kava for multiple servings, or more than one person, adjust the amount of kava powder and water accordingly.
For our micronized kava, which is finely ground kava powder that doesn’t require brewing or straining, the serving size is to mix 1 tablespoon of kava into 8-12 fluid ounces of a nonalcoholic beverage of your choice.
To make a flavorful drink using our kava concentrates, dilute 1oz of the concentrate of your choice with 5 oz. of water or another nonalcoholic beverage of your choice.
Kava Sessions: How They Impact How Much You Drink
Those who drink kava typically enjoy kava sessions, which is when someone drinks multiple servings of kava over a specific length of time. Just like when you head out to the pub or bar with friends, you have more than one glass of wine or pint of beer while socializing. That’s how it is with a kava drinking session.
Not only is this a common way of consuming product, but it has practical applications, as well. The effects of drinking an initial serving of kava may take 15 – 30 minutes to kick in. So you will need to wait until you experience the effects of kava before you consume another serving or two. How many servings to drink will depend on how long you are socializing–the length of your kava session–and the effects you are feeling.
What is Reverse Tolerance?
When it comes to kava dosage, know there is such a thing as reverse tolerance. Reverse tolerance is when you don’t feel the effects of kava initially but only do after drinking it a few times. Sometimes the effects finally kick in over the course of a few days or even weeks of drinking kava. Know your body can take time to adapt and respond to the kava. Once it does, only then do you feel its effects.
How Much Kava is Too Much?
The good thing about kava is that it has a way of letting you know if you have drunk enough in a session. Oftentimes, after consuming multiple servings, you’ll start to feel tired and ready for bed. Sometimes after a number of servings, people can feel a little nauseous. That’s kava’s way of telling you that you’ve had enough for the night.
People who overdo the amount of kava they drink or who drink too much kava over a sustained, long period of time can develop what is called kava dermopathy. Kava dermopathy causes your skin to become dry and scaly. Don’t worry—you have to be drinking large amounts over a prolonged period for that to happen, and it’s not permanent. The skin problem goes away quickly once the person stops drinking kava for a while.
Those who ask about kava dosage often follow up with the question of whether kava is safe or not. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation about kava safety and side effects shared in the past, so we want to set the record straight.
Thanks to scientific research, we have a much better picture of the safety and beneficial effects of kava. Kava got a reputation as being unsafe and bad for the liver many years ago when a study was published linking kava drinking to liver toxicity. That study resulted in kava being banned in many European countries. Fortunately, the findings of that study have since been refuted. The toxicity issues were found to be linked to participants in the study consuming the leaves and not the root of the kava plant (kava plant leaves are toxic, while the kava root is not), drinking other products known to cause liver damage at the same time, or having liver problems prior to the study.
If you have a history of liver problems, drinking kava is not advised. Similarly, do not combine drinking kava and alcohol. Don’t drink kava if you are taking any anti-anxiety prescription medications or natural remedies. This can lead to negative side effects. And always consult with your doctor before introducing any herbal or dietary supplement to your daily regime. Overall, with regard to how safe it is to drink kava, you can read what the World Health Organization concluded here.
The bottom line is that the incidents of any health problems associated with kava have been very few in comparison to its widespread consumption. Kava’s track record is much safer than that of most drugs and even alcohol.
Enjoy Your Kava Sessions with Kalm with Kava
Thousands of people worldwide have been enjoying the effects of kava and its natural mind and body relaxation properties for centuries. And if you carefully research and choose the right kava vendor and products, follow preparation instructions, and experiment with your kava experience, you should enjoy it too. There’s a lot to it, we know! But we hope you come to love drinking kava for social relaxation and wellness needs as much as we do. If you’re ready to amplify your relaxation experience the island way, shop our range of premium kava products today.