Does Kava Make You High?
Maybe you’ve heard that kava is “the new alcohol”. Or maybe a coworker claimed that kava significantly soothed their Sunday Scaries. Either way, this information may have left you with a particular question about this acclaimed plant—does kava make you high?
As a substance, kava is known to create pleasurable physical and mental changes. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily experience a “high” from kava use.
To help you approach kava comfortably, we’ve broken down the types, effects, and safe consumption methods of kava.
What is Kava?
Kava is a natural substance made from the roots of the plant Piper methysticum, native to the South Pacific. Traditionally, the Pacific islanders of this region would crush and soak the tree roots, creating a traditional kava drink for social purposes and ceremonies. Today, the kava root can be consumed through teas, drinks, extracts, or capsules.
Types of Kava
All kava is made from the kava plant—but not all kava plants are the same. There are different types of kava and depending on the tree type, kava roots will have different levels of kavalactones.
Kavalactones are the active compounds that give kava its calming and mood-enhancing effects. Typically, farmers create different ratios of kavalactones from two main types of kava:
- Noble kava – Noble kava is the most popular type of kava, harvested from the Piper methysticum plant. Noble kava contains a higher percentage of the kavalactones kavain and dihydrokavain than other varieties, creating a calmer and more relaxing experience.
- Tudei kava – Tudei kava, also known as two-day kava, is made from the roots of the Piper wichmannii plant. Compared to noble kava, tudei kava has a different kavalactone profile as compared to noble varieties. This gives tudei kava a stronger potency, wielding a greater “high”, but delivering more negative side effects - like headaches and nausea. In fact, the effects of tudei kava can last up to two days, hence its name.
What Does a Kava “High” Feel Like?
Supplement, drug, nootropic—kava has earned many names as it’s grown more popular. However, not many people know what kava actually feels like when consumed. Does kava get you high?
As with most substances, every person has a unique reaction to kava. At normal doses, the compounds in kava can create a number of physical and mental sensations, such as:
So, can kava create a “high”? The answer is—possibly, but not probably.
High doses of kava can produce more intense feelings of euphoria, sedation, and mild intoxication. Regardless, kava is not considered a drug that produces a "high" in the way marijuana or cocaine do. An average dose will almost never leave you incapacitated or out-of-body.
However—tudei kava may produce a more “high” sensation than noble kava or other types. This is due to tudei kava’s specific kavalactone profile. Consumption of tudei kava may create stronger sensations like:
- Numbness and tingling in the throat
- A “head rush” feeling
- Intense drowsiness
How Can I Use Kava Safely?
If you’re new to kava, it’s important to know the research-backed ways to consume this plant safely, especially if you’ve been wondering about whether or not kava overdose is possible. With these tips, you can avoid experiencing any unwanted side effects during your next kava experience:
- Choose a reputable supplier – Since kava is a relatively new ingredient on the market, it’s important to choose a reputable supplier. One way to ensure that you’re buying from a reputable supplier is to check for third-party oversight.
- Measure your dose – Experts recommend staying below 250 mg of kavalactones per day. Higher doses run the risk of side effects like headaches, stomach pain, and liver issues.
- Consider any medical conditions – Not all bodies are equipped to handle kava’s effects. It’s best to avoid kava if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, operating a car or machinery, or if you have a pre-existing heart or liver condition.
- Pick a safe environment – As with any mood-altering substance, your kava experience can be impacted by your environment. Consuming kava in familiar settings with trusted and supportive friends will help you feel the peak of kava supplement benefits.
- Avoid other substances – While it may not produce a “high,” kava is still a mind-altering substance. To avoid any unwanted reactions, don’t take kava alongside other substances, particularly other liver-affecting substances, like alcohol.
Botanic Tonics: For Kava You Can Trust
While kava won’t necessarily make you feel high, you can still expect to feel more focused and relaxed when enjoying this natural plant—especially if you source your kava from a reputable supplier like Botanic Tonics.
At Botanic Tonics, we create and test our kava drinks and capsules in FDA-regulated facilities so that you can enjoy all that kava has to offer safely. Our products are also plant-based, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free.
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6, NIH. Toxicity of Kava Kava. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5868963/
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