People who’ve never heard of kava might think it’s the same as Spain’s Cava, a sparkling wine made in the same way as champagne. What’s interesting is that unlike Spain’s famous sparkling wine or other alcoholic drinks, kava doesn’t affect cognitive function.
Of course, it doesn’t mean you can drink as much kava as you want or take as many kava supplements as you feel like taking in one sitting. Remember, even water can be poisonous if you ingest too much of it.
That said, you need the right kava dosage to enjoy its benefits and avoid side effects. Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to finding the kava dose for you.
Before we dive into the recommended dosages for kava, let’s talk a bit about what it is, how it’s used, and what you can expect before taking it.
Kava is a member of the nightshade family of plants. Pacific Islanders have used it for hundreds of years as a ceremonial drink. They drink it for social gatherings including weddings, funerals, and royal occasions.
Kava is also known as kava kava, and its scientific name is Piper methysticum. The traditional method of preparation involves grinding its roots, soaking them in water, and filtering the liquid. This results in a murky brown drink, which tastes bitter and has an earthy aroma.
The active ingredients responsible for kava’s anxiety-reducing properties are called kavalactones. They work by affecting GABA and other neurotransmitters in the brain.
Kava for Anxiety and Sleep Disorders
The most well-known use of kava is for treating anxiety. Supporters of kava as an anti-anxiety treatment like it because it’s presumably safer than anxiety meds, such as SSRIs and SNRIs.
Kava users also recommend it as an alternative to sleep medications. The exact mechanism of how kava helps people sleep better is unknown.
Kava doesn’t work like antihistamines or anti-allergy meds — which cause drowsiness. The most likely explanation is that it has calming properties, which could help those who have stress-induced insomnia as a symptom of anxiety.
Different Forms of Kava
Kava is available in different forms, including beverages, powder, capsules, extracts, and drops. Now, how you consume it is up to you. If you want it as a drink, head to a kava bar.
Or you can buy kava capsules, drops, or powder from natural health stores. If you want to err on the side of caution, talk to your doctor about taking kava. This way, he or she can recommend a safe dose for you.
For anxiety, that usually means 50 to 100 mg of WS 1490 kava extract, three times a day for up to 25 weeks. LI 150, another type of kava extract, may be taken every day. If you prefer this type, take 400 mg once a day for eight weeks.
Pacific Islanders consume copious amounts of kava without experiencing serious side effects. However, if you’re not used to taking kava, it is recommended that you don’t exceed 250 mg of kavalactones daily.
The lowest effective dose of kavalactones is 70 mg. If you’re very particular about dosage, avoid consuming kava products that do not specify the milligrams or percentage of kavalactones present in them.
Usually, these are products with “proprietary blends.”
A common example would be kava teas. You should also know that kavalactones are more concentrated in tincture or liquid forms, so it’s best to take the smallest dose possible.
Potential Side Effects
As beneficial as kava is for anxiety and sleep disorders, it can cause side effects like headaches, diarrhea, skin problems, and so on. The most serious adverse reaction to take note of is liver toxicity.
That’s why a lot of countries have banned kava, including France, the UK, and Canada.
One reason why kava negatively affects the liver has something to do with how it interacts with other drugs. Specifically, it inhibits liver enzymes that break down certain drugs, causing them to accumulate and damage the liver.
Signs of liver damage include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, jaundice, and stomach pain. If you experience any of these symptoms while taking kava, make an appointment with your doctor right away.
Have you ever noticed how some people can drink cups of coffee throughout the day and it doesn’t seem to affect them, while others experience palpitations with just a cup?
The same is true for kava, which will also affect the dose you can take.
Generally, you’ll want to stick to the lowest dose if it’s your first time trying it. You’ll also want to take note of your weight as well as other medications you’re currently taking.
The last one is particularly important because kava has been known to interact with certain medications, including HIV/AIDs medicines (antiretrovirals). Other examples include anxiolytics or anxiety medicines, such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates, and meds for Parkinson’s disease.
Kava is also contraindicated for those who have liver disease, depression, or bipolar disorder. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid using it.
Should You Reduce or Increase Your Kava Dosage?
The best way to know if you’re taking the right kava dosage is to consult a medical professional. Even if you’re just trying it out and taking the smallest possible dose, don’t be tempted to increase your consumption. Remember that more isn’t always better.
What if you haven’t asked a doctor about using kava? Follow the instructions on the package and use it as directed. Don’t take it longer than three months, and steer clear of alcohol during treatment.
Always listen to your body. If you’re experiencing adverse reactions, especially symptoms related to liver damage, get in touch with a doctor asap.
Did you like this post? If yes, don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog. We’ve got tons of great articles on exercise, meditation, herbal energy, and other legal ways to get high.