Does Kava coffee get you high?

If you google, “Does kava coffee…” the search engine autocompletes your inquiry with, “get you high?”

For clarity, when we say kava coffee we mean coffee made from the kava plant. Not Kava Coffee the coffee brand. The kava plant has been used to make amazing kava drinks.


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So, does kava coffee get you high? Known as an alternative high, kava kava (shortened to simply kava) is native to the South Pacific and a nightshade family member. Other nightshade plants include potatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tobacco plants.

For hundreds of years, Pacific Islanders have used it ceremonially to promote a relaxed state. The relaxing and stress-reducing properties of kava have gained more widespread attention in recent years.

Chill Out with Kava

In a clinical trial, Australian scientists proved that kava, usually served in drinks or baked goods, could help chronic anxiety sufferers control symptoms like persistent anxiety, agitation, and difficulty sleeping. Researchers at the University of Melbourne Department of Psychiatry report that plant-based medicines like the kava kava plant can effectively treat chronic anxiety.

In this study, scientists demonstrated that kava might provide an effective natural alternative for treating chronic clinical anxiety. (Did someone say chronic?) Plus, kava has a lower risk of dependency and fewer potential side effects than some other options.

And, get this. Dim the lights and hit play on that Barry White because they also discovered that kava had another, more unexpected effect besides reducing anxiety. After taking kava for six weeks, the all-woman experimental study group reported an increase in their sex drive. Good news/bad news, though, the researchers concluded the effect was caused by a reduction in the women’s anxiety, not by the plant’s aphrodisiac properties. Ah, tom-aye-to, tom-ah-to.

All The Kava Science

The active ingredients in kava are called kavalactones. Research shows that kavalactones:

Most kava research is based on its ability to reduce anxiety, much like weed. The kavalactones work by manipulating neurotransmitters in your brain, which tells your nerves how to communicate with each other.

Kava combines all the beneficial effects of weed, alcohol, and coffee. It provides lucid relaxation, clarity, and anxiety relief. Kava has even been used to treat minor depression. Mental Health America (MHA) shares that kava is effective for stress relief and insomnia, much like the Granddaddy Purple strain.

What Is Kava Coffee, and How Does It Work?

There are several ways to take kava, like in a tea, in a capsule, or as kava coffee. Traditionally, Pacific cultures drink kava by grinding its roots into a paste. Then, the kava paste is mixed with water, strained, and consumed, and this is what we call kava coffee.

Don’t confuse kava coffee with kava instant coffee, which is an acidic dark roast coffee. Kava coffee is a drink that contains the ground-up root of the kava plant mixed with water. (Water + kava paste = kava coffee.) Originally, someone would grind up the kava root with their teeth for use, but these days it’s handled in a way that never requires someone else’s chompers, thankfully.

What Does Kava Coffee Taste Like?

Prepare your tastebuds for a bitter and astringent flavor. Kava has an earthy body, like the Moonbeam strain, and muddy undertones. While kava isn’t a proper coffee, it delivers an organic flavor that’s rich and bold. You can pair it with foods like Belgian waffles and whipped cream or consume kava coffee alone as-is. To balance out the strong, sharp notes, add a dash of agave or honey for a sweeter touch.

The kavalactones aren’t water-soluble, so give the kava coffee a quick stir right before you take a sip. Otherwise, the good stuff just sits at the bottom, and you’ll be left drinking gray-brown water and wondering why you’re still anxious. Many kava coffee drinkers claim that while it is pungent and bitter, you may gain a taste for the harsh drink. Also, according to experts, you might not, and you’ll simply have to plug your nose and chug it all down in one gulp. To each their own, right?

Kava Coffee Tolerance

Most people have a cup of kava coffee and chillax for the rest of the day. However, it’s essential to know that your tolerance starts higher and decreases—the opposite effect of alcohol.

And just like there are lots of varieties of marijuana, there are multiple varieties of kava, each with its own effects. Some strains affect the head and the body equally. Other strains of kava will be headier with a stronger physical effect. You’ll likely feel relaxed, calm, and probably a little sleepy after a while.

All of this depends on the quality of the kava, the strain, and your tolerance, which lessens over time.

Mixing Kava Coffee with Your Own Caffeine Kick

Combine kava with caffeine for a relaxing buzz. Start by mixing kava and coffee with a 1:2 ratio. You can start higher, but we recommend you feel and taste a small dose first. Whatever type of kava you consume, it’s best to have a little food in your stomach, but not a full meal. A full meal lessens the effects of the kavalactones.

Always talk to a qualified healthcare professional before drinking kava coffee.

Yes, Kava is Legal

Kava, kava coffee, kava tea, kava capsules—it’s all legal in the United States (and most of the world), so you’re free to start your own research figuring out if kava coffee is your thing. We suggest starting here. Have fun experimenting, and don’t forget to drop us a line and let us know what you think of kava coffee.

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JJ Smoak

Brooklyn native, accent-having, travel lover, wordsmith and bud enthusiast. Versed from the streets of NYC, mixed with some world influence, writer/editor and medical user extraordinaire, JJ is here to tell you like it is and guide you to the finest. Brooklyn's favorite feminine stoner, your neighborhood contributor, wrapping leaves like a bandage and bringing you along for the ride.

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