Does Kava Make You High? Kava's Effects | Botanic Tonics

Does Kava Make You High? Kava's Effects | Botanic Tonics

Reviewed by Erin Berthold

As a substance, kava is known to create pleasurable physical and mental changes, but does kava make you high?

Kava users don’t typically get “high” from the herbal supplement. To help you approach kava comfortably, we’ve broken down the types, effects, and safe consumption methods of kava.

What is Kava?

So what is kava exactly? Kava is a natural substance made from the roots of the plant Piper methysticum, native to the South Pacific.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] Typically, farmers create different ratios of kavalactones from two main types of kava:[4]

  • 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 makes tudei one of the strongest kava varieties, wielding a greater or more potent “high”, but delivering more adverse 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?

Herbal supplement, adaptogen, nootropic—kava has earned many names as it’s grown more popular. However, not many people know what kava actually feels like when consumed.

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:

  • Calm
  • Sleepiness
  • Joy
  • Focus
  • Sociality

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 be more likely to cause adverse effects including:[5]

  • Numbness and tingling in the throat
  • Dizziness
  • A “head rush” feeling
  • Intense drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Hangovers

Long-term Effects of Kava Consumption

While kava can be a beneficial herbal supplement, it's important to be aware of how prolonged use may affect the body, including:[7]

  • Liver damage
  • Kava dermopathy (dry, scaly skin)
  • Changes to mental health
  • Potential for addiction or dependence

Kava Addiction

Given its reputation for soothing occasional anxiety and stress, you may wonder, is kava addictive? The risk of developing an addiction to kava is low, with most users experiencing little to no withdrawal symptoms after stopping kava use.

However, this does not completely rule out the risk of psychological dependence, especially in individuals with a history of substance use disorders. If your use of kava is negatively impacting other parts of your life – or if you see signs of dependence in a loved one – it's important to consult with a healthcare provider or seek out professional addiction treatment.[8]

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.[6] Higher doses run the risk of side effects like headaches, stomach pain, and potential liver problems.
  • 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.[7]
  • 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. It's recommended to consult with your healthcare provider about any potential prescription or drug interactions before drinking kava.

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 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.

Try our feel free kava tonic or kava capsules, and experience the benefits of kava for yourself.


1,2, Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Kava .

3, ScienceDirect. Kavalactones - an overview.

4, NCCIH. Kava .

5, American Botanical Council. The Rising and Falling Fortunes of Vanuatu Kava.

6, NIH. Toxicity of Kava Kava.

7, Better Health Channel. Kava .

8, Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Kava.


About The Author

Erin Berthold Botanic Tonic

Erin Berthold, PhD

Erin Berthold is the R&D Director at Botanic Tonics. She holds her PhD in Pharmaceutics from the University of Florida. There she studied the interaction potential between mitragynine and cannabidiol, two compounds from complex natural products. She is passionate about developing creative and alternative options for individuals suffering from substance use disorders.

Erin earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2011. Prior to going back to obtain her PhD, she worked in manufacturing, quality control, engineering, and quality assurance roles across regulated industry at pharmaceutical, medical device, and dietary supplement companies.

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