Mouth tingling isn’t exactly the sensation you might desire when trying to relax, but kava is a potent anti-anxiety and stress relieving herb that can create such an experience. Found natively in regions of the Pacific rim islands, kava is popularly used as a social beverage for relaxing and an extract for preventing anxiety and improving sleep quality.
The evidence for this traditional herbal brew is quite strong. Studies suggest kava is quite reliable in treating anxiety , though this is usually tested with many weeks as opposed to months. Other factors, such as general wellbeing  and general cognitive abilities , are also enhanced. Preliminary evidence suggests kava is useful for fighting symptoms of depression  and improving sleep quality .
Traditionally, kava is consumed in a tea or homemade brew, but many of the benefits of kava come from using the extract alone.
Also Known As
Piper methysticum, Kava Pepper, Ava Pepper, Kava Kava, Intoxicating Pepper, Awa, rauschpfeffer, sakau, tonga, wurzelstock, yangona
History of Kava
As with many traditional plant medicines, kava comes from a plant and has been used for many centuries. It is also known as kava root or kava kava and is used by south Pacific islander communities in order to treat anxiety and other mental disorders .
The kava drink (as we know it today) originated near Fiji and has been found on mainland Australia. Given the social popularity of the drink, it is often referred to as Herbal Ecstasy and has properties akin to alcohol .
Benefits of Kava
Besides purely good feelings, there are many cognitive benefits of kava. For many nootropic compounds, the improved mental performance is attributed to reducing anxiety and stress. A meta-analysis (overview) of 11 different studies found that the root is significantly better at reducing anxiety than a placebo .
Another double-blind study with 61 participants found that kava could reduce anxiety over a 4 week period. That same study found kava sleep quality benefits as well . Indeed, the kava benefits extend to improving sleep quality in even the hardest cases. Another sleep quality study showed this smart drug could help those suffering from anxiety-induced insomnia .
By improving sleep quality and particularly by reducing anxiety, cognitive performance is supported as well. In one situation, 20 subjects tested reaction time after taking the extract and found their performance had improved .
For the purely hedonistic crowd, kava has plenty to offer as well. Studies on subjective wellbeing (i.e: mood and happiness), suggest that this nootropic can be a great natural solution. One study measured “cheerfulness” , while another looked at over 100 patients suffering from anxiety to find profound changes in mood and happiness . For some people, the kava root high or kava intoxication can be enjoyable. This usually occurs with higher doses and with lower body weight individuals, but is still possible for many first time drinkers .
How Does Kava Work?
Like many herbal remedies, the plant itself isn’t as important or special as a particular component. In this case, kava is full of a psychoactive compound called kavalactones, which inform reactions in the brain. Usually, the extract has 30% of this psychoactive ingredient.
According to some recommendations, it is best to take an extract called WS1490, but there are plenty of kava tea or brewing products that you can purchase to get a more traditional experience.
What is the Kava Kava high?
The popular kava kava high refers to a feeling of euphoria and happiness that comes from the kava kava extract. Most people who consume kava see benefits because of anti-anxiety effects, but there are a host of other advantages as well.
There are some questions about the legality of the kava kava high due to the potency of the drug in some extracts and the legal status in other countries. However, in most places in the world (including the United States), purchasing kava is quite simple and usually comes with few risks. We recommend specific vendors such as this one, however.
Even more importantly, there are kava bars popping up around urban environments in the United States that allow people to experience the kava kava high in a social setting. While it is a natural extract and provides relief for millions of people, there are some side effects of kava, which we will discuss in this article for your own protection.
The kava kava high typically refers to a feeling of euphoria or positivity that comes from the kava root. The main reason this is the case is because of of a psychoactive ingredient called “kavalactones”.
These kavalactones are the main reason you might experience the kava kava high, which is why it is important to look for this term whenever you buy kava (typically you want 30% standardized extract from the root).
The kava kava high is reliable because it is well-studied though by various other terms and names. In one study over 4 weeks, 61 different participants found they could reduce feelings of anxiety and stress using kava root .
Additionally, there are studies that look specifically at how powerful these anti-anxiety effects are and why many people refer to them as creating a “kava kava high”. In one study, patients were measured on a scale of “cheerfulness” to see whether kava kava could enhance subjective well-being and mood . It is no surprise that the results were affirmative.
Kava Kava High Anecdotal Reports
Although the science favors using kava to reduce anxiety in many research papers, it does not focus on the specific aspects of using kava to get a “legal high”. Naturally, there is little money in the subject so scientific evidence is scarce.
That being said, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest the kava high is not only possible, but quite potent. Here are a few examples of different anecdotal reports from around the internet:
“…the anti-anxiety effect of this low dose rivaled that of xanax, and blew alcohol out of the water. I couldn’t make myself anxious if I tried…”  – brooklyn718
“Kava is my go-to for job interviews. I take a large dose just before I head out. My head is clear and my thoughts are lucid, but my demeanor is relaxed and calm. I’m friendly with no defensiveness. It’s a truly amazing supplement for such situations. I got two job offers on Kava. It just made me feel so cool and confident… the real me that shines through when all fear disappears. Ridiculously effective stuff.”  – turdrail
“...kava feels to me like they are having alcohol but without the physical slowdown of alcohol so a bit looser and relaxed but not impairment of motor skills.”  – Bula-Babe
As you can tell, the high experienced with kava is quite potent for some people although we do not believe it will be the same for everyone. Those who are more anxious may feel more positive side effects of using the kava root extract.
Other Benefits of Kava
Besides the kava kava high, there are a host of other benefits all related to the mechanism of reducing anxiety. Not only is anxiety a mental state that can significantly reduce feelings of happiness and well-being, but it also has a slew of other problems.
Kava has a number of other benefits. These include:
- Better sleep quality and quantity
- Improved mental performance
- Increased sexual arousal and sex drive
Some of you might be thinking that kava is too good to be true given the “legal high” and these other benefits, but we will break them down via scientific literature.
First, a sleep quality study showed that kava showed nootropic effects that improved sleep quality in even the hardest cases. The study even worked for cases where insomnia was caused by the anxiety .
In another study on cognitive performance, 20 subjects were tested on reaction time and other cognitive measures. After using kava, there was a significant increase in their cognitive performance attributed to the supplement .
Finally, in one of the most unique studies on female sexuality, scientists concluded that kava could help increase sex drive and arousal. They conclude that the anti-anxiety effects are the main cause of this benefit .
Risks Associated with Kava Kava High
While there are many benefits of the kava root (including the kava kava high), there are also risks and side effects. Most of the time, these side effects or risks are related to sourcing of the kava.
In order to get the best kava, it is important to use kava root as opposed to any other part of the plant. This is the least toxic part of the plant and using leaves and stems can result in other issues. This most commonly plays out negatively in the form of liver toxicity.
The reports about liver toxicity have caused the European Union, United Kingdom, and Canada to put some restrictions on kava, but most personal use is allowed. In fact, the studies suggest that any correlation between liver toxicity and kava is rare and the few instances where it happened might have been caused by other drugs and alcohol consumption .
The safety of long-term kava usage has not been confirmed so it is a good idea to look for preparations from companies with the greatest reputations from the root of the plant (as opposed to the other regions).
Kava Bars and Experiencing Euphoria
By far the most effective way to achieve the kava high is through the actual root beverage itself. Even though this can taste earthy and unappealing to some, there are flavorings that you can find or purchase at a local kava bar.
Kava bars are not new, though their popularity and growth are modern phenomena. If you are trying to incorporate more kava into your life, it is a good idea to make sure you visit one of the kava bars near you. Though it is not necessary, it is a great social experience that combines the community gatherings of alcohol and other substances, but replaces it with the kava high, which is both legal, safe, and reliable.
- References (Click to Expand)
- Quote changed from original to reflect true meaning.httpss://drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=143094
Side Effects of Kava
As mentioned previously, there are a few side effects of kava to keep in mind. Some of them are harmless and more common while others do less harm and are rare. Many people who drink the tea find that their mouth becomes numb over time. This is often due to their body weight and is not considered a negative or scary side effect.
One of the more major side effects of kava is related to liver processing of the psychoactive ingredients. Some reports of liver induced toxicity have caused governments in the EU, UK and Canada to put restrictions on the substance. However, this seems to be rare and not caused specifically by the drug, but rather a mix of contributing factors .
Nonetheless, if you are struggling with a liver condition of some sort or you consume alcohol frequently, it might be best to avoid kava or speak to a doctor about the interactions with other medications.
The kava dosage will depend on a few factors namely your goals, the extract or consumption method you use, and your experience level.
Assuming you have 30% kavalactones (standard) then you can take a dosage of 400 mg once or twice per day. The popular kava extract, WS1490, should be dosed with 300 mg within 3 doses of 100 mg each.
For people that are using kava for sleep, it is useful to take a larger dose before going to bed. Even though there are recommendations to break up your doses, taking it all at once before going to sleep can prove more effective.
How and Where to Buy Kava
Kava supplements are relatively easy to come by given their popularity and natural origins. While places like the United Kingdom, European Union, and Canada have regulated the substance due to liver toxicity issues, it is a relatively safe compound that is available across the United States.
Local health food shops and even grocery stores will have kava for sale, but you may appreciate going online to ensure you get the extracts and quality you desire. There are several vendors where you can buy kava online, but it is imperative that you find a reputable dealer that uses the root in their products.
At Nootropedia, we recommend buying a soothing kava tea before going directly to the extract. Given the relaxing experience of hot tea in general, this can add to the ambiance for a fraction of the cost. If the effects are strong and fruitful, then you can look in depth at kava extract for sale.
Selected Community Experiences
“Kava is my go-to for job interviews. I take a large dose just before I head out. My head is clear and my thoughts are lucid, but my demeanor is relaxed and calm. I'm friendly with no defensiveness. It's a truly amazing supplement for such situations. I got two job offers on Kava. It just made me feel so cool and confident… the real me that shines through when all fear disappears. Ridiculously effective stuff.”  – turdrail
“I made some before a night out and it completely eliminated any anxiety I was feeling and I was able to let go and just be myself around a group of people I had never met before. I'm not really that anxious of a person, but when I'm around new people I find it hard to relax and be the funny/outgoing person I usually am when I'm around my friends, but Kava made socializing extremely easy.”  – GreasyNegus
Author’s Thoughts on Kava
As I live in Austin, Texas I have had many opportunities to try kava from a local “kava bar”. I’m not entirely sure, but I imagine the brew that these bars make is more traditional or at least more potent than the kava tea my girlfriend buys.
Either way, the experience was pretty interesting and I could see the advantages regarding relaxation and calm. My mouth got quite numb and tingly from using kava, but it wasn’t disruptive or problematic in any way.
After drinking the kava (which doesn’t taste amazing), I felt a lot more relaxed and sedated. It wasn’t as intense as the first experience I had with lemon balm, but it is nonetheless very useful for this purpose.
My only complaint (though I didn’t experience it) is that kava can come with a few warnings regarding side effects and the interactions with other pharmaceutical drugs. If you’re taking a prescription, double check with your doctor before starting a long-term kava regimen.
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Contributor
- References (Click to Expand)
- Other Scientific Resources (Click to Expand)