What is kava?

Powdered Kava Kava Root
Powdered Kava Kava Root

Kava is a small shrub grown in Pacific islands, mainly Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, and Hawaii. Islanders have used kava plants for centuries in social rituals, religious ceremonies and for medicinal purposes. The root and stump of the plant are ground down and made into a natural, non-alcoholic beverage. When consumed, the effect of the active ingredients in the kava plant is psychological and physiological relaxation. Kava’s botanical name is Piper Methysticum and there are estimated to be over 105 different varieties of the plant. Learn more about the kava kava plant.

Why drink kava?

There are numerous kava root benefits*. Kava root drinks relax the mind and body and induce a sense of calm and euphoria, making it ideal to use for social relaxation. It can also be used to reduce stress, those everyday normal feelings of anxiousness when facing challenging life events, as well as to relieve muscle tension or to help on those occasions when getting to or staying is sleep if difficult. There are many reasons to drink kava. Our customers tell us they like to drink kava as:

  • An alternative to alcohol for social relaxation
  • A way to alleviate stress and keep calm
  • A means of taking normal everyday anxieties, worries and fears down a notch
  • A way to lift their mood and increase sociability
  • A natural sleep aid or to help with occasional sleeplessness
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How kava worksHow Kava Works

The calming effects of kava root drinks are due to a combination of the main active ingredients in the plant, (known as kavalactones), not to a single substance or compound. There are thought to be 18 different kavalactones, with a large majority of active ingredients coming from just six.  Each variety has a different composition of these six kavalactones.  This composition is represented by a six-digit chemotype that is assigned to each variety.

Read about the science behind the calming effect of kava.

Side effects and safety of drinking kava

No hangovers

One of the big kava root benefits compared to alcohol is that it will not overly dehydrate your body or fill it with the toxins that lead to headaches and hangovers. While kava won’t impair your cognitive abilities and mental clarity in the same way that alcohol does, it is still recommended that you don’t drive after drinking it. Read more about kava vs. alcohol.


One of the major kava root benefits is that it has been proven to be non-addictive. Unlike other substances, drinking kava is not habit forming and you will not build up a tolerance to the effects causing you to need to drink more each time. In fact, the exact opposite has been shown. The beneficial effects of a drink of kava can be felt even more when less is drank on subsequent occasions. This is because of the distinctive way that kava affects the brain. Learn more.

Kava and potential liver toxicity

Despite this, anyone researching kava for the first time will most certainly find websites, blogs and articles that claim kava drinking is bad for the liver and your health. The origin of these claims is research that was done over 15 years ago in Switzerland and Germany that led to kava drinking being banned in those countries. And that the ban was reversed in 2015 after a growing body of new research has called into question these early research findings. This research has showed that cases of liver toxicity attributed to kava actually occurred only when the person was also taking other drugs and medications known to negatively effect liver function or consumed contaminated kava products.  The Reset.me article on this is very comprehensive

Unfortunately the misinformation and health warnings still dominate online and obscure the numerous, and more up-to-date, university research studies that have since been done to gain a better understanding of how kava affects the mind and body and that have revealed important potential kava root health benefits.

The likelihood of negative health side effects from drinking kava is minimal. As the National Library of Medicine has stated, “based upon reported cases, the estimated frequency of clinically apparent liver injury due to kava is less than 1:1,000,000 daily doses.”

Read more about the safety and side effects of kava.

Noble vs. Tudei varietiesNoble Kava

One precaution to take is to only purchase and consume lab tested, Noble Kava varieties. Kava varieties are grouped into 2 main categories: Noble and Tudei Kava. Avoid consumption of Tudei (two-day) kava varieties. These are typically used only for medicinal purposes and are aptly named for the negative side effects, that include feelings of nausea and lethargy, that can last up to two days.

Learn more about Noble vs.Tudei kava.

At Kalm with Kava we only sell lab-tested, high-quality, fresh Noble kava, sourced direct from farmers we know. To avoid purchasing Tudei kava, do some research and learn about the reputation of the company you are buying from. Here’s a little more about us.

You might also like to refer to these other online resources and forums to learn more about kava root benefits and safety.


Kava Reddit


103 varieties of kava – heady, heavy and balanced

Flags for Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa and TongaBeyond these two main categories, over 100 kava varieties have been identified. And, based on their effects, further categorized into three distinct groups; i) heady, heavy, and balanced.

A heady kava is one that will have more mental or heady effects and well as being relaxing. It could be mood boosting, make you feel happy or even euphoric. A heady kava will make you feel calmer and more sociable. Our heady kavas are Tongan Pouni Ono and Special Edition Samoa Ava.

The predominant effects of a heavy kava will be to make your body feel heavy, and to relax your muscles as well as calm your mind. Heavy kavas are usually more even sedative, making them ideal sleep aids. Our heavy kava varieties are our Borongoru and Melomelo from Vanuatu and our Fijian Vula Waka.

A balanced kava variety is one that has a balance of heady and heavy, mental and physical, relaxation effects. Examples are Vanuatu Borogu and Fijian Loa Waka. You can drink a balanced kava anytime of the day.

All our varieties are sold in both Medium Grind and Micronized Instant formats.

Use our Quick Selection Tool to find the right kava for you.

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Kava cultureroot of happiness kava bar

What is kava culture? On the Pacific islands, especially Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and Hawaii, there is a long history of kava drinking. It is an integral part of religious and ceremonial occasions and, on each island, there are distinct, deep-rooted, strong, cultural traditions associated with drinking kava. Find out more.

Over the ten years, the popularity of kava has been increasing worldwide as more and more people discover the benefits it can bring. Numerous kava bars have opened all of the U.S. with many being located in Florida and on the west coast. View map and list of U.S kava bars.

If you have any other questions about Kava, feel free to email us; we’ll be happy to answer them for you. Info@kalmwithkava.com



*Before starting a dietary supplement, it’s always wise to check with a medical doctor to find out which is best for you. None of the information included here should be construed as medical advice.