How Much Kava To Take?

Dear Kava Guru,

How much Kava is the right amount of Kava for a relatively healthy 185lb man in his 30’s?

Chris, Austin, TX

Kava dosage and how much kava you take has everything to do with the type of kava you’re taking, as well as your body type and weight.  To answer your questions, first, we always suggest following the directions on each individual package of kava that you purchase.  On that package, if it’s from a legitimate kava company or farm, will be the standard “Supplement Information” panel on the package, giving serving suggestions.

But I understand that these instructions don’t always cover you! This dietary supplement has so many methods of ingestion that it can get quite confusing quite quickly.  At least know that there is no single dangerous kava dosage.

First, there’s good old fashioned kava root.  This typically comes as a powder, and needs to be extracted. Most of the kava recipes we’ve found use a ratio of 1 tablespoon of powdered kava root to 1 cup of water [1]. Sometimes a vegetable fat is added, such as a teaspoon of soy lethicin or vegetable oil [3]. This will act as an emulfisier to help extract the kavalactones into the water. Alternatively, you can substitute some of the water for a fatty liquid such as coconut milk—one effective recipe calls for 2 cups of water and 1 cup of coconut or another nut milk. Since some kavalactones are soluble in fats and others in water, combining the two will help you make a stronger kava drink.

The usual serving of prepared kava in the South Pacific is 2 to 4 fluid ounces. Depending on how it’s prepared, a bilo (coconut shell bowl) of kava can contain anywhere from 150 to 500 mg of kavalactones, and indigenous islanders often consume several bilos in a kava drinking session [2]. In other words, although the Kava Committee has issued an advisory upper limit of 300 mg of kavalactones per day, many Pacific Islanders consume far higher doses of this wondrous plant daily without ill effects. If you’re planning to make kava the traditional way from powdered root, the Kava Guru suggests starting with the standard recipe and seeing how it works for you. You can always adjust the ratio of kava to water, and thus the strength of your brew, until you achieve a satisfying result.

I know that the imprecision of the traditional method will not appeal to everyone. If you want to know the precise amount of kavalactones in your serving of kava, consider a supplement that contains a kava extract, such as an instant drink mix, kavalactone paste, or capsule. For most people, the smallest effective dose of kavalactones is about 70 milligrams. One of the Kava Guru’s favorite kava-related blogs offers this rubric for determining how many milligrams of kavalactones to take: in general, 70-210mg of kavalactones is the average effective dose for reducing stress and anxiety [2]. Between 150 and 250 milligrams is more useful for addressing insomnia, especially if it is taken an hour to 30 minutes before bed [2].

Note that some kava supplements list kavalactones as a percentage rather than in milligrams. In this case, you’ll have to calculate the milligrams of kavalactones per serving based on the total number of grams or milligrams in one serving of the supplement. For instance, a kava capsule that is 30% kavalactone will contain 30mg of kavalactone per 100mg of material. To reach the average threshold dose of 70mg of kavalactone, you must take 230 mg of the supplement. However, should you choose a supplement that combines kava with other relaxing herbs such as chamomile, lemon balm, or valerian, the required dosage of kavalactones may be less because the other herbal ingredients will contribute to the supplement’s relaxing effects.

It’s true that every body is different, and you may find yourself needing a larger (or smaller) kava dosage for satisfying effects. Where it gets tricky is that kava can sometimes have reverse tolerance, meaning that the new kava drinker won’t feel any effects the first few times they try kava [2]. Some people interpret reverse tolerance to mean that kava doesn’t work on them. The Kava Guru’s advice is to be patient with kava, as reverse tolerance usually goes away after a few kava sessions. With patience and a little experimentation, the Kava Guru is confident you will find the right amount of kava for your individual constitution.

Mahalo,
Keith

REFERENCES

1. “Kava Recipes for Kava Drinks.” Kona Kava Farm. Accessed March 4th, 2014. www.konakavafarm.com/recipes.html.

2. “Kavalactones Dosage”. Kava.com. Accessed March 4th, 2014. http://www.kava.com/?p=587.

3. “Kava Brew Recipe”. The Vaults of Erowid. Last modified February 5th, 2011. https://www.erowid.org/plants/kava/kava_recipe1.shtml.

31 Likes
33 Comments.
  1. hi there kava guru I have just brought 500gms of
    70% kava root powder on e bay how much will I need to get an effect
    I am 85kg What is the best way to have the kava
    cheers ben

    • Kava Guru

      Benjamin,

      First of all, there is no such thing as 70% Kava Powder, so what you have purchased is unequivocally counterfeit. I can say this with certainty because Kava cannot exist as a powder at 70% kavalactone concentration. But that’s not my greatest concern: There are a number of Kava extracts coming out of China that purport high percentages of Kavalactones for cheap, yet 100% of these extracts were found to have little to no kavalactone in them, and worse; 2 samples were shown to be poisonous to humans.

      I can’t stress enough that eBay is not really a wise place to purchase your kava. Places like http://www.kava.com that have been selling Kava for almost 20 years online would be a vastly safer place to make your purchase.

      Mahalo,
      Kava Guru

  2. Sean Hyde

    Hello, i purchased some 30% kava from kona farms. In capsules. The first time i took it for three hours i was in heaven! All the desired effects and felt realy good, but since then ive had little to no noticable effects. should i just continue with it? Or get some stronger kava? Should i empty the capsules and make a tea? Also on full or empty stomach..thabkyou x

    • Kava Guru

      Sean,

      I love hearing about positive experiences with Kava products, especially Kava capsules. Strange that you haven’t had effects since then; usually Kava is a reverse tolerance, where you need the same or a little less over time as it builds up in your system and you begin to recognize the unique effects more and more.

      As far as emptying the capsules, that would make for a bigger “punch”, but you have to be careful about making too hot of a tea. Kavalactones begin to break down at only 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so boiling water would make your Kava tea far less effective. You would also have to add some kind of creamer to your tea to emulsify (extract and liquify) the Kavalactones, which are fatty by nature.

      As far as full or empty stomach, that is all preference. I always take my Kava on an empty stomach, but most of my staff here makes sure they have food in their stomachs before taking it. Just have fun, keep experimenting, and see what works best for you.

      Mahalo,
      Keith

  3. Mary C.

    I’ve been taking a liquid kava extract produced by the company Herb Pharm. The bottle suggests mixing the extract with water or juice, but I’ve been taking it sublingual in undiluted form. Is this safe? Also can one overdose on kava extract? Thank you for any guidance.

    • Kava Guru

      Mary C,

      First, we have never heard of anyone over-dosing on Kava, and from the current and past studies on Kava there is no known lethal dose. Next, how you take your Kava depends on what kind of effects you’re looking for from that Kava. If you want the effects to be gentle and gradual, then by all means dilute your Kava tincture with water or juice. IF you want more of a “kick” to your Kava experience, then taking it sublingually under your tongue is your best bet, even if it burns a little.

      Lastly, can’t help offering a quick plug for one of our in-house brands; Kava Tincture Plus by Kona Kava Farm. They have a verified 6% Kavalactone content in their product. Do you know what the Kavalactone content in yours is?

      Either way, thanks for taking the time to ask us a question, and we wish you all the best in your Kava experiences!

      Mahalo,
      Bryan

  4. Rene G Volpi

    I’ve read on many sites that it is recommended to refrain to take Kava capsules after a period of (max) 3 months but what they don’t specify is for how long the break should be, or if there should be one at all in your view. Could you please advise?

    • Kava Guru

      Rene,

      The break is an FDA recommended break, and that is typically two weeks. We usually say that “two months on two weeks off” is a safe bet. But, I’ve enjoyed Kava for nearly two decades, and I’ve rarely taken a break. Although there are times when I naturally take a break, it does take quite a large amount of regular Kava consumption to show any of the rare side effects, like scaly skin. And, the best part is that if you start to see any of the side effects, you can simply take a break or lower your consumption, and the side effects go away.

      Mahalo,
      Kava Guru

  5. ont nurse

    I am taking NOW Kava Kava 250mg. It says 30% kavalactones. Is this the real deal. I bought it at a natural food store. Just made me feel great. I have been on benzos for so long for anxiety but this is better than anything I have tried. Will this effect continue or will it lose its effect like most meds do after taking it for a length of time?

    thank you

    • Kava Guru

      Ont Nurse,

      I’ve been enjoying Kava for nearly 20 years, and I do double the doses of my Kava these days, but it does seem to be a limited tolerance. If I’m enjoying Kava with friends, I rarely drink more than 4-5 shells in an evening, whereas when I first started, 2-3 would be my maximum. I’m glad you found something natural that works for you; we’re so limited in what we can say about natural alternatives, but Kava is really a truly effective and safe natural supplement that really works, especially when it comes to helping with anxiety.

      Look for an “Ask Kava Guru” article on this shortly, as many people have asked me this question.

      Mahalo,
      Kava Guru

  6. Steve

    This is my first time taking kava. I bought some 30 percent kavalactone extract from PDO. Everything they sell is top shelf. My question Is how many tenths of a GRAM should I put under my tongue for stomach moderate effects? Thanks for your time and knowledge. Steve

    • Kava Guru

      Steve,

      You can follow the instructions on the package. If it’s true 30% Kavalactone, they should list the mg of Kavalactone per serving. It should be somewhere around 250mg – 300mg per serving. That’s usually 2 capsules. If that’s the case, then 1-2 capsules at a time under your tongue should provide you with an interesting Kava experience.

      Mahalo,
      Keith @ Kava.Guru

  7. mark wheeler

    hey i want to try this but not sure if it helps with pain

    • Kava Guru

      Mark,

      Kava can be an extraordinary aid for pain, but not for everyone. The most common pain it’s used for, from my experience, is lower back pain. Personally, I’ve been consuming it for over 20 years, and I’ve never really noticed the pain relieving properties of Kava. But, I have more than a few friends and colleagues who swear by the pain relieving benefits that Kava has to offer.

      Kava.com has their Kava Library, and here’s an article on The Pain Relieving Properties of Kava. Hope this helps!

      Mahalo,
      Keith

  8. Jon

    Is bula kava house a legit and place to buy from

    • Kava Guru

      Jon,

      Yes, Bula Kava House is a very legit and reputable place to buy Kava from. One of the best in my opinion.

      Kava.Guru

  9. Louise

    Thank you so much for explaining the use of Kava in such clear terms. I keep coming back here time after time for information. I came off Zoloft to try a natural remedy, and Kava has been everything I hoped it would be. I liked Zoloft; it really worked for me and I felt calmer and had the best sleep the entire time I took it. Zoloft helped with my anxiety and OCD. Unfortunately, it also affects the libido, and I decided that was a side-effect I no longer wanted to combat. I have 32 years in a great marriage, and I want to keep ALL the benefits. The Kava does everything the Zoloft does, but my libido has returned to normal. YESSSSSS! I am about to place my 3rd order. I take two capsules of KAVADOTCOM Kavalactone 30% each morning and three capsules every evening. Every time I have had a question, I have found a satisfying answer in your forums. Thanks!!

    • Kava Guru

      Louise,

      This is GREAT news! Every time I hear that Kava has helped someone get off of pharmaceuticals is music to my ears! And yes, pharmaceuticals are known to decrease libido. And, believe it or not, Kava, partly because of it’s calming effect, has been widely used as an aphrodisiac. In fact, Kona Kava Farm has KavaLOVEtone Capsules, which are quietly aimed to help calm the nerves while boosting libido. I looked for an article on Kava as an Aphrodisiac and found one here: https://kava.com/kava-aphrodisiac/, as well as here: https://www.konakavafarm.com/kava-aphrodisiac.html

      Hope this helps, and as always; thank you for the kind words and for sharing something so personal with us!

      Keith at Kava.Guru

  10. brundibar

    Hi Kava Guru,
    I have bought kava kava online, but it doesn’t say what the percentage of kavalactone is.
    On the producer’s website there is the following in FAQ:
    “How many mg of Kavalactones are there in a teaspoon serving of the Kava Instant Drink Mixes?
    * There are about 2600 mg per serving of Kavalactones in 1 teaspoon of our Kava Instant Drink Mixes.”

    BUT! A teaspoon has +- 2500g (tested at home), thus they want to say that it’s 100%? :S Thanks in advance for clarification. Regards,Brundibar

    • Kava Guru

      Brundibar,

      I see this so often, and it’s frustrating to see. The maximum Kavalactone dosage per day, according to the FDA, is about 290mg of Kavalactone. Since Kavalactones account for about 10% of the weight of raw Kava root, we need to know the WEIGHT of the product in question, NOT the serving size in teaspoons or tablespoons. Some products weigh much more per teaspoon or tablespoon, and some products are fluffier and weigh much less.

      Since you measured the wight of a teaspoon of this Instant Kava at 2500mg, if we take 10% of that weight, we have 250mg of Kavalactone content. That means there is about 250mg of Kavalactone in that serving, IF (and that is a BIG “if”) that product has 10% Kavalactone content. That would make sense in relation to a product being within range of the safe dosage according to the FDA. But, you shouldn’t have to be guessing at the Kavalactone content of your Kava products; vendors should be vividly clear and equally as accurate on the Kavalactone content of the products they’re selling.

      Mahalo,
      Keith

  11. Jason

    Dear Guru,

    I suffer from anxieties and mild depression. I have ordered kava over time on and off for the past 3 years. Mostly exalting the order trying to nail down a way to the prep that gives me desired effects.

    Using mostly ground root and micronized powders, I either get no effects or I become more anxious and have mild anxiety attacks.

    Tinticures, capsules and extracts seem to have no effect. I have also tried everything from blenders to traditional prep methods to shakers.

    As of now I can only get an effect “most undesirable” by using micro and shaking for 5 to 10 minutes in organic milk and adding a little chocolate syrup for flavor.

    Am I doing something wrong? I had really high hopes for this herb and still very interested in its potential.

    I currently have some:
    Borogu, Waka Ground Root and 11 Year Micronized Waka on hand.

    • Null

      I should’ve mentioned I am not on any pharmaceuticals period. Kicked the benzodiazepines almost 3 years ago, hence my journey for all natural aid for anxiety and depression etc.

      Thanks and I eagerly await your most experienced response.

    • Kava Guru

      Jason,

      These are all great questions and concerns. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the effects of Kava, recognizes the effects of Kava, or has a pleasant experience from Kava. My wife is a great example. She’s one of the only people I know who have the reaction she has, but I’ve heard of similar stories. When she takes Kava, she feels her heart rate rise a little bit, and she feels a strange pressure in her chest. Instead of relaxing, she feels a little anxious instead, as if she drank too much coffee. This sounds similar to your experience, yes?

      From what you’ve explained, it doesn’t sound like you’re doing anything wrong at all; your specific system might just not react well to Kava. Whether you take it as a powder, a capsule, or a paste, all should give you the pleasant effects that Kava is so famous for. You may also simply be extra-sensitive to specific supplements such as Kava

      So, something I would suggest is this: Try to halve or quarter your current dose, and take that every day or two for a week or so. All you’re trying to do is acclimate your body to Kava. Now, you’re not supposed to feel any effects from the Kava you’re going to take for a week; good or bad. In fact, if you don’t feel any effects, then this is a GOOD thing! All you’re trying to do is ease into Kava consumption. For all you know, if you are extra-sensitive, you might skip the pleasant and go straight to the unpleasant.

      I know a few people who have reported similar unpleasant effects, and they tried this method. What also happens is that you give yourself time to recognize the effects of Kava. If you’re already a happy person, you may feel less of the pleasure-enhancing and increased well-being effects that Kava tends to have. So, by lowering your dose and easing into it, you can take the time to notice what effects the Kava is having, before it gets to the mild anxiety stage.

      Hope this helps; if you decide to try this, please report back so other can benefit from your experiences. And, as always, thanks for sharing!

      Mahalo,
      Kava.Guru

  12. Hector

    I take kava for anxiety everyday starting in the morning’s, sometimes it works awesome then it gives me anxiety. Usually when I get anxiety off of a kava session I have to wait around 2 to 2hours 30min to enjoy.L theanine sometimes helps but not always I’m going to try California poppy liquid extract to see if it helps. Any info to fix this problem would help

    • Kava Guru

      Hector,

      It’s rare to hear about Kava causing anxiety, but it does happen. Just as with pharmaceuticals such as Ativan, it’s prescribed for anxiety, but it does have an opposite effect on some people, causing more anxiety instead of less. The perfect product for you might be “Kava Blends” from Happy Kava Brand. They have several blends geared specifically for helping you to relax. They have Happy Kava Blends California Poppy, Happy Kava Blends Kanna, and Happy Kava Blends Valerian, among a few others.

      My personal favorite is the Kava Kanna Tincture Blend, but it’s worth trying each of them to see which works best for you.

      Other than that, St. John’s Wort is known for helping with anxiety, but that can take up to 2 weeks to have an effect. That’s partly why I love Kanna, whether it’s in a Kava Tincture Blend or if it’s separate, it can have an instant, positive, anxiety-reducing effect on me. In fact, I am so into Kanna, that I buy just the fermented herb, and let it soak in my mouth between my cheek and gums, kind of like tobacco. It’s such a pleasant sensation and when blended with Kava, to me, it seems like a match made in heaven.

      And, you might want to try to adjust your dosage as well. Sometimes too little or too much Kava can cause anxiety at times. You might want to experiment with your dosage to see if there’s an optimum setting for you.

      Hope this helps!

      Keith and Kava.Guru

  13. Chris

    I am new to this kava usage I just started taking one 200mg extract pill with 60mg of kavalactones in each pill instead of my prescription right before bed 1st night I slept great but I might of still had my prescription from the night before in my system 2nd and 3rd night couldn’t fall asleep at all I’m going on 48 hours of no sleep but I love this stuff it has taken my full body muscle aches from Fibromyalgia away. I’m going to try to take the pill in the morning to see if it will wear off by the eve so I can get some sleep or do I need to try a different dosage? Thanks

    • Kava Guru

      Chris,

      Good questions. the FDA has a daily dosage guide of 290mg of Kavalactones a day. Throughout Oceania, it’s not unusual for Kava drinkers to take 1000mg of Kavalactone a day, every day. Personally, I get anywhere between 250mg – 1000mg of Kavalactone a day, and I’ve been enjoying Kava almost daily for nearly 20 years.

      So, in answer to your question, you can safely test higher dosages, in the morning or at night. For most, Kava is very relaxing, but for a few, it can have an opposite effect. The best thing to do is to experiment. Since the capsules have 60mg of Kavalactone each, that means you can safely take up to 5 capsules per day, or even at one time. If a 60mg capsule did well for you, though, it sounds like your system is sensitive to Kava, so I wouldn’t overdo it when you’re experimenting with the dosage that works best for you.

      Hopefully I’ve answered your question?

      Keith and Kava.Guru

  14. Erin

    Kava Guru,
    Let me start by saying thanks for all the info! My local health food store offers dried Kava root, not in powder form. Can I do the traditional method using the dried root, or is there another step I need to do?
    Thanks!

    • Kava Guru

      Erin,

      Great question! You CAN use the whole Kava root, but you would need to smash the root up a bit first, and then soak it in water overnight in the fridge. If you have a rock (I know, it sounds so primitive) or a mortar and pestle, that works quite well. Alternatively, you can soak the roots overnight first, then mash them up, and then soak them for a few hours.

      But, the easiest method is to simply place your roots, a few at a time, into a coffee grinder. Kava roots are fibrous, but the bark has been peeled off of them, and they’re actually pretty soft in relation to the world of roots. As long as you break up the roots before putting them in a coffee grinder, and as long as you only do a small amount at a time, you should be fine. Another great tool is a blender such as a Vitamix. I know that many Kava Bars use the Vitamix as their primary root-grinding tool. Again, in moderation, Kava roots easily grind up in a blender, and actually make for quite a strong Kava drink because of how thoroughly it powders the root.

      Hopefully this helps!

      Keith and Kava.Guru

  15. vega

    Just bought two ounces of kava root today. I don’t have any coconut milk and was wondering if just putting it in capsules have any effects

    • Kava Guru

      Vega,

      You can certainly put the Kava into capsules; you just need to put 1-2 tablespoons of Kava into those capsules. And that can be a lot of capsules! You don’t need coconut milk to make a Kava drink, tho. Water works just fine, as does your favorite juice. Alternatively, you can use any kind of milk; soy, almond, or even cow milk (although it doesn’t make for a great-tasting Kava drink). The coconut milk simply helps to make the Kava stronger, it’s not required.

      Also, if you take the Kava as a capsule, if you want the most “kick” from it, you simply need to take it with a fat to help the absorption. I often like eating some chocolate with my Kava, or even better, I’ll extract my Kava into a chocolately drink. When you eat some chocolate, the natural fats in the chocolate will help your body absorb the Kavalactones better, making for a stronger experience.

      Hope this helps!

      Keith and Kava.Guru

  16. Dani

    I just bought some kava kava extract powder that says it’s 30% at 667mg and one scoop is 1000mg? What does that mean? I’m new to all of this and I want to make sure I’m taking what I need to.

    • Kava Guru

      Dani,

      I would need more specific information about what the label says to be able to answer this question, sorry. The maximum daily dose of Kavalactone set by the FDA is 290mg. If a single serving of that 30% kava extract powder contains 667mg, that’s a little more than double the daily dose. If one scoop weighs 1000mg, then 30% of that would be about 700mg of Kavalactone. From what little information I have, it would seem that you need to take 1/2 of a scoop per day maximum to be in alignment with the FDA daily maximums.

      Hope this helps!

      Keith @ Kava.Guru

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