Kava Nausea: Causes, Prevention, and Relief | Botanic Tonics

Kava Nausea: Causes, Prevention, and Relief | Botanic Tonics

Reviewed by Jamal Bouie

Ever had that chill kava session only to have the post-sip nausea sneak up on you? Don't worry, you're not alone. In fact, it's a common symptom of drinking kava tea. But don’t worry, there are ways around it. We're all about making your kava experience as smooth as possible. So, let's dive right in and uncover why kava nausea happens and, more importantly, how to kick it to the curb.

Unlocking Kava's Secrets: Understand the Kava Plant

Kava, also known as Piper methysticum and kava kava, has a rich heritage among Pacific Islanders as a traditional herbal remedy. When the kava root is combined with water, it creates a kava tea that fuels a  journey to zen vibes, mood elevation, and relaxation. The main chemical component in kava that gives it these stimulating effects are called kavalactones.[1] While they may be the source of the magic behind kava use, they can also sometimes trigger a bit of belly discomfort for some folks.

Why Does Kava Cause Stomach Pain? 

When it comes to kava root, that natural soother known for its relaxing effects, there's a little hiccup that can pop up: stomach discomfort. This stomach discomfort is tied to kavalactones, the active players behind kava's calm-inducing magic. These kavalactones, while in the spotlight for their soothing properties, can sometimes unintentionally ruffle the stomach's feathers.

In some people, drinking kava can cause muscle spasms. So, while you're unwinding with a cup of kava tea or trying out kava kava, it might be wise to have a light snack beforehand – a peace offering to your tummy, if you will. Just like with many things in life, kava comes with its own set of peculiarities, reminding us that even in the world of relaxation, a bit of harmony goes a long way.

Nausea is the sensation of having to vomit or having the urge to vomit. Vomiting may or may not occur as a result of nausea.[2] Nausea is a complex sensation that can result from various factors, including the interaction of compounds in kava with the body's physiological processes. The exact cause of nausea associated with kava consumption is not well-documented in scientific literature, but there are a few potential factors that may contribute to it:

  • Kavalactones: Kava contains a group of compounds called kavalactones, which are believed to be responsible for its psychoactive and therapeutic effects. Some studies have suggested that certain kavalactones might irritate the gastrointestinal tract and lead to nausea in some individuals.
  • Dosage and Preparation: The preparation method and dosage of kava can vary significantly, and this can impact its effects. Consuming high doses of kava or using improper preparation methods, such as using parts of the kava plant other than the roots, may increase the likelihood of experiencing nausea.
  • Individual Variability: People have different sensitivities to substances, and what causes nausea in one person may not affect another. Genetic factors, individual physiology, and pre-existing health conditions could play a role in determining who experiences nausea when consuming kava.

It's important to note that while some people may experience nausea after consuming kava, others may not. Additionally, kava has been linked to more serious side effects, including liver toxicity, which has led to regulatory restrictions and warnings in some countries. Therefore, it's crucial to exercise caution when using kava and to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications.

Research on the safety and efficacy of kava is ongoing, and scientists continue to investigate its effects and potential side effects. If you are interested in using kava for its calming effects, it's advisable to do so under the guidance of a healthcare provider who can help you determine the appropriate dosage and monitor for any adverse effects, including nausea. Additionally, be aware of the legal status of kava in your region, as it may be restricted or banned in some areas due to safety concerns.

Tips for a Smooth Kava Ride

Luckily, there are different methods kava drinkers can try to keep potential nausea at bay. Some of these include: 

  • Dosing Dynamics: If you're new to kava or just stepping into tonics, take it easy and gradually amp up your kava dosage. Your stomach will totally appreciate tapering up.
  • Eat Before You Sip: Eat before you dive into drinking kava. It’s important to prep your belly for good times ahead. 
  • Mind the Medication: Kava doesn't play nice with other medicationA quick chat with a healthcare pro can spare you from any unpleasant surprises.
  • Drink plenty of water: Because dehydration can contribute to nausea, it is critical to consume plenty of water when taking kava. This can aid in flushing out the kavalactones and lower the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Stay away from booze: Bcause of dehydration, you might feel worse if you mix the two. 
  • Choose Quality Kava: It’s important to remember that there are many different types of kava strains on the market. Opt for high-quality kava from trusted sources. Premium kava, like Piper methysticum, is less likely to cause stomach irritation compared to lesser varieties.

Moderation: Don't overindulge in kava if you want to avoid the annoying tummy trouble symptom. Keep your consumption within recommended limits, as excessive kava kava intake can increase the likelihood of stomach issues or problems with your liver.

  • Try a different kava preparation method: If you get nauseous from drinking kava tea, you should try a different preparation method. Some people find that consuming a kava drink, like a smoothie or other beverage helps to reduce nausea. You can also try kava capsules, which are easier on the digestive system.

Managing Kava-Induced Nausea

Adhering to these recommendations will allow you to enjoy kava's potential benefits without encountering undesirable side effects. For those looking to bypass the intricacies of kava preparation, our ready-to-drink kava beverages offer a hassle-free solution. Tailored for individuals with busy lifestyles, these kava drinks enable you to embrace the advantages of this remarkable botanical, even when on the move. 

Note that some people are simply allergic to kavalactones and just like any product, feel free might not be for you. Please consult a medical professional before consuming our kava product if you have health complications. 


  1. Mayo Clinic. Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress. www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
  2. WebMD. Kava - Uses, Side Effects, and More, https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-872/kava  

About The Author

Jamal Bouie Botanic Tonic

Jamal Bouie

Jamal Bouie is an accomplished professional with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD in Biomedicine at Salus University. Jamal has worked in several industries; he began his career in pharmaceutical manufacturing and transitioned to the cannabis industry, where he specialized in analytical testing and manufacturing, playing a vital role in ensuring product safety and compliance. Now, Jamal has turned his attention to the dietary supplement field, combining his scientific acumen with his passion for health and wellness.

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