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The Science Behind Kava and How Kava Works

by Dew Wellness on Oct 06, 2022

The Science Behind Kava and How Kava Works

Traditional medicine goes back centuries, even thousands of years. That said, it's no surprise that Kava has been used for medicinal purposes for a long time. Whether you're looking to improve your social life or relieve tension and anxiety, kava can have a lot to offer.

How does kava work?

Kava is a crop of the Pacific Islands. The shrub's roots are used to produce a non-alcoholic beverage with sedative and anesthetic properties. Kava beverages are consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia, and some parts of Micronesia, for their sedative effects. In addition to its ceremonial use in rituals and social activities such as weddings and funerals, kava is also used medicinally to treat anxiety symptoms like insomnia, stress, and restlessness.

Kava is a perennial shrub that grows up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall. The stems are thin and woody, with leaves that grow alternately from the stem. The leaves have a smooth surface and dark green color on top with lighter green underneath. The flowers are white or pinkish and grow in clusters at the end of each branch. Kava can grow in many different types of soil, but it thrives best in limestone-based soil with good drainage.

The rootstock has been used for thousands of years throughout Oceania as an intoxicating beverage.

Different Forms of Kava

Kava can be found in various forms:


Powdered kava root is today's market's most common form of kava. Powdered kava root is made from freshly dried kava root, which is then ground into a fine powder using an electric grinder or mortar and pestle. Powdered kava root should be stored in an airtight container away from sunlight, heat, and humidity to ensure optimal freshness.


Kava capsules are very convenient since they require no preparation and are easy to swallow or chew. They are commonly sold as herbal supplements at health food stores and pharmacies worldwide.


Kava extract comes from the root of the kava plant and is standardized to contain 70 percent kavalactones. Kavalactones are what give kava its relaxing properties. A typical dose of kava extract is 300 milligrams, which can be taken three times per day before meals.


Kava drops contain kavalactone extracts suspended in oil droplets using alcohol or glycerol. The drops are then mixed with water to drink. The amount of kavalactones in each drop varies, so read the label carefully before taking them to make sure you know how many milligrams of active ingredients each drop contains.

What are the benefits of kava?

Here are some ways that kava might be useful:

Fights Cancer

Kava has been shown to fight cancer cells in lab tests, and the root has been used in traditional medicine as an anti-tumor agent for centuries. Kava is currently being studied as a treatment for prostate and breast cancer — both of which are caused by uncontrolled cell growth.

Regulates Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is one of the most common health problems in America, but it can sometimes be hard to get your numbers under control. Kava helps with this because it relaxes blood vessels and reduces stress on the heart — one reason it’s often used as an alternative treatment for anxiety and depression.

Relieves Pain

Many people suffer from chronic pain due to injuries or disease, but many prescription drugs used for pain relief have dangerous side effects and can become addictive over time. Kava relieves pain without causing addiction or other harmful side effects, making it a safer choice than many other pain medications today.

Eases Depression And Anxiety Issues

Kava is one of the best herbs to treat depression and anxiety issues without any side effects. It helps calm your mind and relax your body by reducing dopamine production, making you feel more relaxed and less anxious about life's problems.

Treats Cough And Cold Symptoms

Kava is also effective in treating coughs and colds because it has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce mucus secretion from the respiratory tract. This can help clear up congestion caused by viral infections like the common cold or coughs caused by allergies or irritants such as cigarette smoke or pollution."

Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment

Kava has been shown to help people with alcohol dependence by reducing anxiety and depression symptoms associated with quitting drinking. Kava can also be used to treat withdrawal symptoms like tremors and insomnia.

Can Ease Menstrual Cramps

While there are many options for treating menstrual pain, kava can be an effective natural remedy for menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea – especially when combined with magnesium and vitamin B6.

Promotes sleep

Kava is a natural sleep aid that works to promote restful, peaceful sleep. It has been used for thousands of years to help people with trouble sleeping. Kava can also be useful in reducing feelings of pain and anxiety, which may help you get a good night's sleep.

Reduces adrenal fatigue

Kava effectively reduces stress, anxiety, and depression by increasing the production of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that acts as an inhibitory modulator in the brain. This means that it helps keep other neurotransmitters (such as dopamine) from overstimulating your brain cells and causing you to feel anxious or stressed out.

Kava May Help Treat Toothache

Kava can be used as a natural way to treat toothaches. The active ingredients in kava extract can help relieve pain associated with inflamed or infected gums or mouth tissue. It is also helpful in reducing inflammation at the site of the injury while reducing swelling around it.

Kava Might Support Hair Growth

Some claim that kava might support hair growth by helping prevent hair loss and increasing the thickness of each strand of hair on your head. However, no scientific evidence supports this claim, so it's best to consult your doctor before trying this herb out if you're concerned about balding or thinning hair.

What Are The Side Effects Of Kava Drink?

Kava is a popular drink that is used in many cultures. It is made from the roots of a plant that grows in the Pacific islands. The drink has been consumed for hundreds of years and is still popular today. Kava drinks often help people relax, relieve stress, and get a good night’s sleep. However, kava can also have some mild and severe side effects.

Mouth numbness

Mouth numbness is another common side effect of kava root that may occur after consuming large quantities of the drink. This problem can be caused by the fact that kavas contain chemicals called alkaloids, known for their numbing effects on skin tissue and mucous membranes, such as those in your mouth.


Another common side effect of kava drink is headaches. Headaches are experienced by many people who take kava products and range from mild to severe in intensity. You should not experience headaches if you follow the recommended dosage for your product and do not exceed this amount. Kava is very dehydrating, so if you’re experiencing headaches maybe it’s time to take a look at your water intake and see if this may be the cause.  If you experience frequent headaches after taking kava for an extended period, talk to your doctor about switching to another form of anxiety disorder treatment that does not include this herb as one of its ingredients.


When consumed in high doses or taken over a long period, kava drink can cause drowsiness. This effect is due to the presence of active ingredients called kavalactones. These substances have sedative properties that help you relax your body and mind. They also act as muscle relaxants and relieve pain associated with muscular spasms by blocking pain signals from reaching your brain.

Issues During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

It's best to avoid taking kava during pregnancy and breastfeeding as its safety is still uncertain. Kavalactones cross the placenta and enter breast milk, so it's best to avoid using it during these times.

Does Kava Kava interact with anything?

Kava can interact with certain medications. Check with your doctor to see if it's safe for you to take kava.

Anti-anxiety medications

The herb kava has been used for centuries to relieve anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. Kava may interact with anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium), barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital), alcohol, and other drugs that slow down brain activity. Theoretically, this interaction could cause you to become drowsy or dizzy. If you take kava with these drugs, it's possible that the effects of these medications could be intensified or prolonged.

Antiseizure medications

Kava has been shown to reduce seizure frequency in people with epilepsy, although there is still debate about whether it should be used as a treatment option. Kava may interact with antiseizure medications such as phenytoin (Dilantin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), and valproic acid (Depakene). This interaction can lead to increased side effects from these antiseizure drugs, including drowsiness and dizziness.


Diuretics are used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, and they also help remove excess water from the body. Kava has diuretic properties, which can increase the amount of urine produced by your kidneys. Therefore, it is best to avoid using kava with other medications that act as diuretics. This may include:

  • ACE inhibitors are used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
  • Potassium-sparing diuretics — These drugs treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) — These drugs are used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
  • Beta-blockers — These drugs treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. 
  • Calcium channel blockers — These drugs treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. 
  • Other cardiovascular medications include nitrates, digoxin, spironolactone, clonidine, or antiarrhythmics such as amiodarone or sotalol.

Does kava damage the liver?

Because of the potential for liver damage, some studies have suggested that kava is not safe to take. However, these studies also suggest that kava is only harmful to the liver under particular circumstances:

Poor-quality kava 

Most research suggests that there isn't a problem with drinking one or two glasses of kava every day—as long as you are using high-quality kava and not taking any other drugs or alcohol. However, studies have shown that kava can be potentially harmful if it contains an unwanted compound called pipermethystine. Poor-quality kava usually has more pipermethystine than quality products, so if you are not buying from a reputable company, you could be at risk. Each batch of our Kava is third-party tested and GMP and ISO 9001 certified, so you can feel confident you’re taking the highest quality kava.

Taking kava with alcohol or other medications that affect the liver

Kava interacts with alcohol and other drugs that affect the liver, including prescription medicines. Because of this, it is best to avoid drinking when taking kava.

Taking kava for long periods

Some studies have suggested that kava may cause liver damage in some people over long periods. However, these studies are controversial, and no evidence taking kava for short periods will cause any damage to your liver. 

How to use kava kava?

Kava is commonly prepared as a beverage but is also used to produce extracts, tinctures, tablets, and capsules. There are many ways to make kava drink. The traditional way is to use water and a mortar and pestle (or other tool) to grind up the root into a fine powder and then mix it with water. Some people prefer coconut milk instead of water, while others add honey or sugar to sweeten the mixture. The most common way to prepare kava is in a liquid form using cold water. Typically, 1 tablespoon of root powder is added to 2 cups (470 ml) of cold water, which is then allowed to sit for 30 minutes before straining through cheesecloth or coffee filter paper into another container. The resulting liquid should be cloudy white or creamy yellow and have a bitter taste with an earthy aroma. This can be consumed by itself or mixed with other beverages such as juice or club soda.

Is kava FDA approved?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers kava a supplement limited to personal use. Kava root has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating any medical condition or disease. 

The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements as strictly as it does prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications. The agency relies on manufacturers to ensure their products are safe before selling them to consumers. 


Kava is effective in clinical settings, which makes it far superior to many other herbal tonics and remedies, which have not undergone rigorous tests in controlled conditions. Kava should be used daily as needed and can serve as a healthy bit of relief for mild anxiety or help users wind down after a stressful day.

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