Throughout history, people have asked: is kava safe? To determine if it is safe or not, we'll take a look at the history of kava, and see how this question emerged. We'll also look into what can be done to ensure its safety.
In the last sixteen years, 183,000 people have fatally overdosed from prescription opioids. That means a doctor somewhere prescribed an opioid to a patient. That patient most likely abused the opioid, overdosed and died.
This does not even include the overdose deaths related to prescribed muscle relaxers such as benzodiazepines, or sleeping pills such as Seroquel or Ambien.
Prescription opioid drugs are still on the market and are still heavily prescribed by doctors and pain clinics all over America. No government agency has put a ban on this substance, ever.
Many people believe that kava is also unsafe. In the last 3,000 years, there have been close to 70 reports of deaths related to kava. That’s right, 70. And it turned out to be a misunderstanding relating to the type of kava consumed. But is kava safe? How can we ensure that it is?
In this article, we will go over this main question: is kava safe? We will also give four safety tips to ensure you have a good experience while you drink kava.
The Misunderstood Kava Incident
The death of less than one hundred people who drank kava happened in the early 2000s. Different medical reports claim a different number of people were affected. The numbers range from as low as 25 to as high as 100. But none of the reports claim kava has affected more than 100 people negatively.
Those who drank this kava reportedly experienced liver toxicity that later lead to death. This was a horrible experience that could have been prevented.
Bans were immediately placed on the export of kava, no matter what type.
It was later learned that the kava connected to these 68 deaths was “bad kava” or ignoble kava. This means the kava these unfortunate people drank was harvested from the bark, stems and leaves of the piper methysticum plant.
Good kava or noble kava has never been associated with negative reactions. And in 85 studies, researchers found the reason some had negative experiences with kava were because they prepared it differently.
Most bans on kava have since been lifted. While warnings are to be placed on packaging of kava, it is a product that is recommended by organizations such as the American Association of Family Physician.
Is Kava Safe?
According to the Federal Drug Administration, kava has been found safe for short-term use if you follow recommended Guidelines and safety tips. We discuss these four safety tips to ensure you enjoy kava and allow for deeper relaxtion.
- Know Your Kava
- Do Not Mix with Alcohol or Drugs
- Know Your Dosage
- Know Your Supplier
By following these safety tips, you can fully enjoy your kava and not ask yourself "is kava safe?".
Safety Tip 1: Know Your Kava
The kava that offers a relaxing result is the kava harvested directly from the root of the plant. After harvesting, the kava plant will stay fresh for about three days. Because this is not long enough for people around the world to enjoy kava tea, harvesters will pound the root into a powder.
This powder can be stored and saved for use for many months. In powder form, it can also be shipped to anyone.
The kava you purchase needs to come from a reputable farmer and supplier. Choosing a supplier that is a member of the American Kava Association ensures they are certified and practice the sale of only noble kava.
Is kava safe from non-reputable suppliers? Probably not. These suppliers often ship ignoble kava, also known as tudei kava. Tudei kava is the version of kava that can cause negative side effects to those who drink it. Some of the effects of tudei kava can be nausea, vomiting, and feeling like you have a hangover for approximately two days, hence the name.
Safety Tip 2: Do Not Mix with Alcohol or Drugs
If you are drinking alcohol and decide to mix it with a kava drink, the effects of the alcohol can increase. The same is true for drugs taken with kava. If you are feeling drowsy or sedated, kava will increase these effects, making the mixture dangerous.
While more than 12 studies have shown kava to be safe on its own, is kava safe when mixed? If mixed with drugs such as those used for Parkinson’s disease and benzodiazepines, it can become dangerous. There are multiple interactions between kava and prescription medications that are to be avoided.
Alcohol, sleeping pills, sedatives and prescription pain killers have a similar goal. They all relax you and make you feel better. They can each do this on their own. None of these should be mixed.
Because kava’s effects, when taken by itself, are so positive, there is no need to take additional chemicals.
Safety Tip 3: Know Your Dosage
Kavalactones are compounds found in kava. They determine the effect you will receive when drinking kava tea. There are approximately 18 kavalactones, meaning there are hundreds of combinations.
Because the effects can differ based on the compounds, it is recommended you start with a low dosage and work your way up to a higher dose.
The recommended dosage for a beginner kava tea drinker is 100 milligrams. According to Kava Library, a standard dose given to those having trouble falling asleep is 200 milligrams one hour before bed.
Your first few uses of kava tea may not offer you the affects you desire. This is because some people experience a reverse tolerance. This is when a person does not feel any effects from drinking kava tea until their bodies have built up a certain amount of kava in their systems.
If you have questions regarding dosage, you can always ask your kava supplier.
Safety Tip 4: Know Your Supplier
A trustworthy supplier will offer kava in a variety of forms. Most offer kava in supplement and powder varieties.
Kava suppliers may even have their own kava bar, where you can have the experts prepare the drink for you. This is highly recommended for beginners. Also, because kava is such a social drink, sharing the experience is beneficial.
Good kava suppliers welcome inspections and make efforts to become certified through organizations such as the American Kava Association.
In this time of information availability, searching reviews of a supplier is quite easy. Getting recommendations from fellow kava tea drinkers is one of the best ways to pick a supplier.
Kava tea has existed for thousands of years. In this period, it has offered drinkers a relaxing, calming effect. It has helped many enjoy a sound sleep when before they had trouble falling asleep. Kava has even given introverts the confidence to be more social.
So, is kava safe? The answer is yes. Your kava experience can be safe and enjoyable. If you drink kava tea that is purchased from an honorable supplier, without mixing it with any alcohol or drugs, you will experience the true positive effects it offers.