Kava Dosage Guide
We get two extremely popular questions here at Entheology regarding Kava: What is a usual and safe Kava Kava dosage? AND “What are some Kava benefits?” I will answer both questions here, with some help from some of the top names in Kava. First, though, let’s do some simple math:
The FDA has decided that 290mg of Kavalactone per day is a “safe” dose for every day use.
Now, no one knows where they came up with that specific data (such as 290mg instead of an even 300mg). But, that’s not what we’re concerned about at the moment. Recently, I spoke to an avid Kava Drinker in Hawaii (the amazing and deeply authentic “Joe”) at a recent Kava festival. I asked what he felt a “safe” Kava dosage was. I thought his response was quite interesting:
I drink ‘awa every day of my life. I have since as long as I can remember. I have never thought of a [safe dosage] of ‘awa because it’s just a part of my life. My family, my friends; we are all ‘awa drinkers. If you want to to tell you how much ‘awa I drink in a day, I don’t know if I could answer that question. But, it’s not unusual to have up to 8-10 shells of ‘awa in a day or on weekends.
When pressed, I found that it was not uncommon for him to enjoy up to 10 “shells” of Kava, although his “usual” dosage was about 6 shells. (Especially when spending time with friends or at an event where Kava is involved.) Now, let’s do some math to give us some perspective:
- A single “shell” of Kava can have about 2 tablespoons (6 grams) of Kava powder in it.
- Kava has about 10% Kavalactone in it
- A good extraction will net about 5%-7% of those lactones
- So, a shell of Kava (single serving), might have about 300mg of Kavalactones.
- 1 shell = 300mg of Kavalactone / 10 shells = 3,000mg of Kavalactone in a day
O.K., I’m not saying that we all run out and consume 10 shells of Kava in a single day. I’m also not saying that’s a safe Kava dosage either. All I am doing is reporting what a Hawaiian native told me that he sometimes consumes in a day. Mind you, ‘Awa has been a part of his life since before he was born. (He said his mom consumed Kava when she was pregnant with him.) And, he’s had 40 years of conditioning his system to tolerate Kava.
It’s important to remember this key tidbit: There is no known overdose when it comes to Kava.
Again, this doesn’t mean that you should run out and ingest as much Kava as you can. It doesn’t mean that too much Kava can’t make you sick. I’m just providing the limits to consider when answering the question of what is a safe Kava Kava dosage? Because yes, you can get quite sick from consuming too much of anything, including Kava. Unlike some other natural herbal products (such as the Guarana content in Red Bull), though, there is yet to be a single recorded case of a death from Kava overdose in over 3,000 years of use. So, keep that tucked in your mind when trying to figure out what your personal safe dose might be.
Are we getting any closer to an answer? I’m not entirely sure.
So, let’s take a look at this from the flip-side. It’s easy to see the Serving Size of Kava on any of GMP manufactured packages of Kava products at Kava.com. The FDA now requires any dietary supplement to have the Supplement Facts on any website the product is sold on. (This is also a great way to verify if a product is actually manufactured under strict GMP guidelines.) So, if we look through the products in the Kava Marketplace, 1/8th of a teaspoon of Kavalactone Paste 55% is a single serving. That equals 155mg of Kavalactone. Twice per day, and you’re again, slightly over the recommended daily dosage of Kava according to the FDA.
Or, Kavalactone 30% Capsules have 200mg of 30% Kavalactone in them. That equals 60mg of Kavalactone per capsule. With 6 capsules in a day, you would be slightly over the 290mg dosage, with a 360mg dosage instead. But you’re within range.
Personal Kava Dosage
Perhaps a more balanced look at Kava Kava dosages could be a “typical” case study. I volunteer. I consume Kava almost every day, and have for about 20 years now. That may not seem like a “typical” case study, but I consume it in moderation, as much larger doses can make me dizzy and slightly uncomfortable. So, although I’ve often wanted to consume more Kava, my body limits me.
And this brings up a great point: I firmly believe that our bodies, when we’re truly listening to them, do tell us what is good for us and what is not. I won’t get into the debate here, but a place I think that is exceptionally true is when it comes to Kava. So, the best advice I can offer when it comes to Kava dosage is to listen to what your body is telling you. If you are feeling uncomfortable in any way, stop. Conversely, it can take quite some time for your body to acclimate to Kava, so if you feel uncomfortable or nauseated when first trying it; don’t give up! Your body isn’t used to having Kava in it, so you have to start up slowly, and introduce your body to Kava over a period of time.
O.K., back to what I think may be a typical Kava dosage for both a single serving and in a single day:
- DAILY KAVA INTAKE: When I’m out with friends or having a gathering with Kava Kava on the drink menu, over the course of a few hours in the evening, I can consume 4-5 shells of Kava. At a Kava Bar, the Kavalactone percentages can be smaller than if I made it myself, so I guesstimate that I’m consuming about 200mg of Kavalactone per shell. That’s about 800mg – 1000mg of Kavalactone in a single serving. To me, that sounds like a very reasonable dosage, especially when it’s not every day. If I consider that on other days, I consume perhaps 1-3 shells of Kava, and certainly not at all on the days I am piloting an aircraft. If I do some quick math, that’s about 600mg of Kavalactone a day, almost every day, over the course of at least a decade. Since I’m a pilot, I get regular blood tests, and my liver has never shown any toxicity any of those times.
Something to note is that consuming 4-5 shells of Kava in an evening certainly brings about a very pleasant but quite altered state of consciousness. I would never consider driving in that state, and ask that anyone reading this, please, please, please be responsible with their Kava consumption. I know it’s just an herbal product, but the effects can be quite intense. And, if one is unfamiliar with the psychoactive effects of Kava, it can take some time to have the sensations wear off.
Lecture over, but I offer it with a sincere and genuine concern for your safety and well-being.
I’ve sometimes felt a Kava Hangover, without question. It’s not unlike an alcohol hangover, but it is quite different. I don’t have a nasty headache, and there is no
vomiting involved. But, I do feel very hazy, and very, I don’t know; very “deflated” the next morning. I’m not sure what the physical aspects of this hangover are, but unlike alcohol, Hair of the Dog Kava doesn’t usually help. This clears up with some caffeine, fresh air, a brisk walk, and some fresh greens for lunch. But, it definitely is something to contend with.
So, are we any closer to answering the question: “What is a safe Kava Kava dosage?”
I’m still not sure we are. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the only unsafe Kava dose is one that makes you feel unwell. Kava is non-addicting, and there are a very few and extraordinarily rare cases of yellowing and flaking skin with what is considered “excessive usage over a long period of time”. But, that is most-likley not you, no matter how much Kava you decide to consume.
Listen to what your body is telling you. But also give your body some time to get acclimated to Kava. Best of all, is just play. Have fun. Experiment. Find the right type of Kava and in the right amount, that brings the most pleasurable effects for you. My favorite stress reducer and anxiety fighter is a couple of shells of Kava. I vastly prefer it over capsules or pastes, although I am very partial to Kava Tincture Plus 6%. It’s not that difficult to make, and the actual process of making it is part of the joy of Kava for me. Here are the directions from the back of a Happy Kava Brand Kava label. It says it all:
In fact, while you’re surfing the web looking for information on a safe Kava Kava dosage, it might be a good idea to make a quick shell of two of Kava and then continue your research! I hope I was of some help, although I can’t help feeling like I may not have provided the answer you were looking for when you found this page. If that’s the case, then by all means, comment below, and I’ll answer you personally!
If you’re looking for more info related to Kava dosage, here are a few articles here or elsewhere that I have also authored. I’m a bit obsessed with Kava, so the below list is getting a bit long:
- False Alarm- Kava Not Toxic to Liver
- Article on Kava Kava Benefits
- The Botany of Kava Kava
- Safety and Benefits of Kava-Kava
- Does Kava Have a Spiritual Side?
- Kava Experience – Hawaiian Hiwa
- Combining Kava and Cannabis
- The Definitive Kava Beginner’s Guide
- Kava Article Table of Contents – Kava.com