How Much Kava is Too Much?
“Don’t eat too much sugarrrr!” she hollers after her kiddos as she walks out the door.
That mom knows her kids have a hidden stash of candy from Halloween. She’s seen the wrappers … and she has paid the dental bills for the resulting cavities.
This mama knows sugar can lead to cavities. Yet, she really, reeeally enjoys sugar. So, she just makes sure to brush her teeth regularly to avoid getting nasty cavities.
She regularly tastes her cakes to make sure that she has the flavors just right because she is an avid baker. It’s part of her process. This is especially true when she’s baking something for the first time.
One day, she was asked to make petits fours. Hmmm … A new challenge. No problem, she tells herself. Making little tiny cakes may be very time-consuming, but it also means lots of taste testing.
The cakes are baked, the filling is prepared, and the icing is ready to go. Time to put the petits fours together in all of their glorious flavors.
Because they are a totally new creation, she has to get the flavors just right. So she samples them. And then samples the next batch. And the next batch … You see where we’re going with this.
After hours of making these cakes that seem to have come straight out of the pit of Hades, she has sampled no less than fifteen of the cursed cakes.
A few hours later … all of that sugar has had plenty of time to do its work in her stomach. She wakes up from a dead sleep and crawls to her porcelain god where she bows for the next hour.
Those petits fours were no longer appealing in any way, shape, or form.
Sometimes too much of a good thing is just too darn much of that good thing—even when that thing is good for you.
We love kava. We would even encourage people to drink kava regularly. But what if you go a little crazy on the kava?
And that leads us to our next important question.
How Much Kava is Too Much?
Some of you who drink kava may be thinking, You can’t have too much kava! Kava is amazing!! You’d be partially right. Kava is amazing, that’s true.
We hate to burst your bubble, but you can have too much.
Think of drinking kava like taking medication or having a glass of wine. There are multiple factors to consider when it comes to how it will affect your body. Under normal circumstances, a 250-pound man can consume more alcohol without feeling a buzz than a woman who weighs 95 pounds.
The same goes for medication. Your dosage is directly affected by your body mass and body composition. For example, you can have two women of the same height, weight, and age who need to take thyroid medication. They are probably not going to take the same dosage because it all depends on how their body will process the meds.
Kava works like that. So to answer the question of how much kava is too much, we need to cover a few bases first.
If you learn nothing else from this, please know that the only type of kava you should drink is noble kava. Do not get confused and drink anything that has tudei kava. You want to choose high-quality noble kava to ingest into your body for the best results.
Noble Kava vs. Tudei Kava
Both strains have different chemical profiles, and each of the profiles is divided by chemotype. Tudei and noble kava have different kavalactone ratios and they are analyzed to measure the kavalactone content.
Tudei Kava has been consumed for centuries. This type of kava has been used by the island natives for ceremonies and medicinal reasons. It’s not usually drunk on a daily basis.
Tudei kava seems to be a great option for growers because the plants reach maturity rapidly and yield more plants for harvesting. Some of these tudei kava variations have a very high kavalactone content. Kavalactones are responsible for the magic of kava, so that sounds like it would be a good thing ...
These tudei varieties with highly-concentrated kavalactone content also bring annoying side effects of headaches, extreme tiredness, and nausea. And unfortunately, those side effects are not short-term. Tudei kava hangover lasts for two days.
There is a much higher presence of two particular kavalactones known as dihydrokavain and dihydromethysticin. This creates a problem. When these kavalactones are drunk in very high concentrations it is just a bit much for our bodies.
Tudei kava is metabolized at a slower pace in the body. That is why your tudei kava hangover can often last for forty-eight hours. Who wants to feel sick to your stomach with a headache for two days straight?!
Noble kava is the kava of choice for most people because of how the body reacts to it. This is why noble kava can be used on a daily basis without negative reactions to it, like fatigue, nausea, and headaches.
Kava farmers know that noble kava takes oodles of patience and an abundance of time. These babies take five years to reach maturity. Noble kavas are more desirable because their rootstocks are smaller than the tudei kavas.
To get the most desirable effects from your noble kava, you will want to choose those with high levels of kavain and lower levels of DHM.
Now you should understand why noble kava is the best choice for your body.
Next on the list. You need to find out how your body reacts to kava.
Nobody can completely predict exactly how your body will respond to drinking kava. You will have to start by drinking the recommended dosage and go from there.
The maximum daily recommended dose for kava is often cited as 250mg of kavalactones per day. This recommendation originates from the pharmaceutical industry's efforts to standardize and market kava products in a more medical form during the kava boom in the 1980s and 1990s. It is believed that the 250mg dosage was chosen based on the amount of kavalactones found in a large cup of average kava obtained from dried roots, a conservative and politically appropriate amount consumed by many visitors to the islands without issue.
Clinical trials using this dosage have shown that it can achieve the desired pharmacological effects and is well-tolerated without significant side-effects or impairing one's ability to drive. However, this doesn't mean higher doses of kava are necessarily unsafe. Traditional users in the South Pacific often consume significantly more kavalactones than the Western recommended daily dose without significant adverse health effects. The average cup of kava in Fiji or Tonga has about 250mg of kavalactones, which is considered a very small dose to them. Anywhere from 5 to 20 cups are consumed daily by most recreational users here. In Vanuatu, people drink 4-6 times the 250mg "maximum daily recommended dose" in one cup, and they drink a few cups a day.
While heavy consumption may lead to some side effects, they are generally considered reversible upon cessation or reduction of kava use.
The concentration of kava will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. So it’s imperative that you read the labels thoroughly.
So, you need to kinda test the waters. Prepare your kava and drink it when you don’t need to be anywhere … just to see how you are going to react. Drink your muddy water down and wait twenty minutes.
Within twenty minutes you should absolutely begin to feel the effects of your kava. Your mouth should have gone numb. Yep. That’s supposed to happen.
If your goal is relaxation and calm, then this dosage should be somewhere close to the right neighborhood for you. Just be sure not to drink the kava fibers in the bottom of your cup, or you could ruin your chill vibe with tummy troubles.
But if you’re not using traditional ground kava, you may be using micronized kava powder. Micronized or instant kava powders are ground into a very fine powder. Some people prefer this type of kava because it dissolves better into the water without leaving quite so much grit.
When trying micronized kava, you’ll notice the dosage seems different. Rather than two to three tablespoons, you’ll only use two to four teaspoons. And unlike standard ground up kava powder, micronized kava is so fine that you don't have to worry about swallowing any of the kava fibers.
Umm … who on earth wants to drink kava fibers and end up with stomach cramps?! No thanks.
What Affects Your Kava Dosage?
The brand and original source of the kava has an effect on the potency of your kava. Every Pacific island has its own variation of kava. Again, read those labels.
Some types of kava can be labeled as heavy, balanced, or heady. Heavy kava is going to be best taken before you go to bed. It should make you feel very relaxed and tired. Heady kava is going to give you more of a euphoric feeling.
Just like with alcohol, drinking kava on an empty stomach will increase the effect it has on your body and mind. So, if your stomach has been empty for a few hours, the kava will have a more intense effect.
Drinking it on an empty stomach will also help you know whether or not your stomach tolerates it well. If it doesn’t sit too well on your stomach, you can eat something small and that should do the trick.
Kava Reverse Tolerance
Kava reverse tolerance is unique to kava. Basically, it means that the more regularly you drink kava, the less you need to achieve your kava zen. It builds up in your body and takes less and less for you to relax.
You can breakthrough that reverse tolerance barrier by drinking less potent kava and moving on to more intense kava.
Medications and Alcohol Interaction
Medications and alcohol can both interact with kava. Be sure to do some research to find out how your medications will be affected by the kava. And as for alcohol … Do NOT consume alcohol and kava at the same time.
Drinking Kava to Reduce Anxiety
If your goal with kava is to lessen your symptoms of anxiety, then taking two tablespoons of regular ground kava should be the right amount to take the edge off. You’ll just need to make sure you pay attention to how you feel when you start taking it.
Chugging Kava to Get Krunk
What the heck is “krunk?” It is drinking so much kava that you have reached a state of kava drunkenness. When you become drunk on alcohol, you are completely impaired mentally. That’s not how kava works.
It will take anywhere from 600 mg to 1000 mg of kavalactone consumption for you to reach this point. Your body will feel very buzzy and woozy, but your head will be clear.
Can You Overdose on Kava?
If you go beyond the state of krunkenness with your kava, can you OD just like you would on drugs?
Well, remember. Drinking cup after cup, or shell after shell, of kava, also means consuming all of the water it was made with. You are more likely to develop an upset stomach and find yourself vomiting after gorging on kava rather than overdosing.
You’re not going to vomit and blackout. Everything that happens, including the vomit, will occur during total lucidity.
The point is, your body will make you throw it all up instead of hitting a point of toxicity or overdose. Overdosing is not going to happen.
Sooo … How Much Kava IS Too Much?
That is entirely up to the individual. YOU are the deciding factor. You will have to try kava for yourself to see how your body reacts to it. Just be smart and try it in a trustworthy environment.
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