How Much Kava Should I Take?

One of the most frequent questions we get from kava newbies is “How much kava should I take?” To be honest, there is no one answer to this excellent question: how much kava you should take will depend on the effects you want to obtain from it. In different doses, kava can be a sleep-aid, a natural remedy for anxiety, or a relaxing and euphoric beverage. In general, higher doses of kavalactones will promote more sociable and relaxing effects than lower doses, so in part, how much kava you should take will depend on the medicinal or recreational effect you want it to have.

Concentrations of kavalactones can differ by hundreds of milligrams per dose depending on the method of preparation: generally speaking, a kava tea or traditionally prepared cold brew made with fresh root will have a higher concentration of active kavalactones than kava pills or capsules made from dried material. The kind of kava supplements you get from general health food stores are usually made with older ground root and tend to be diminished in potency and effects. We recommend that you stick to sourcing kava from specialized vendors whose kava products will likely be more potent and made with fresher ingredients. Some kava vendors also sell concentrated kavalactone extracts or pastes which can also be a potent and convenient way to take kava.

The American Herbal Products Council has recommended that people limit their intake of kavalactones to no more than 300 milligrams per day, and not use kava for a continuous period of more than three months. In recent years, numerous studies on kava have been published that undermine the link between properly prepared kava root and liver damage. Therefore, we feel this is probably an artificial daily limit for a herb with such a long history of safe use in the South Pacific at far higher daily doses. However, people interested in using kava therapeutically will be happy to know that kava’s anxiolytic and sleep-promoting effects can kick in at far lower doses than are needed to produce its more pronounced sedative and euphoric effects, making kava a great herbal supplement for everyday use. How much kava you should take to treat anxiety or insomnia will of course depend on your individual constitution, but clinical studies have shown that kavalactone doses between 70 milligrams to 210 milligrams.  How much kava you should take to provide support for lowered anxiety levels?  Doses of 150 to 200 milligrams, taken 30 to 60 minutes before bed, were effective in helping to support more restful sleep patterns. However, these doses will likely not be enough to promote the feelings of euphoria and tranquility that many recreational users of kava are often after.

In the South Pacific, kava is brought out at all social occasions of note, so most South Pacific Islanders and native Hawaiians may take kava regularly— even daily— for years with no reported ill effects. Furthermore, the average concentration of kavalactones in a traditional kava brew is frequently far higher than what you’d find in a standardized kava extract or herbal supplement. Depending on the region, the strain of kava, and the preparation method, one bowl of a traditional cold brew can contain between 150 and 500 milligrams of kavalactones. Since it is common practice in many South Pacific cultures to enjoy a few bowls of kava in a single night, most people who partake of kava in the traditional way could end up consuming up to 2500 milligrams of kavalactones daily. Despite what may seem like a huge amount to people unacquainted with the world of kava, there have been ZERO reports of liver or general health problems from daily intake of kava at these levels among indigenous groups.

Of course, we recommend that first time kava drinkers take it slow until they’ve gotten acquainted with the plant’s effects on them and know what to expect. For the first few times drinking kava, you should start with one bowl and wait 20 to 30 minutes to feel the effects before taking a second bowl as a booster. In some cases, people don’t feel any effects until they’ve tried the brew a few times, due to a reverse tolerance that can sometimes occur with kava. One of the best ways to tell if you’ve gotten a hold of potent kava is that the brew will numb your mouth almost immediately after you consume it, as the tissues of your gums absorb the active kavalactones. Most kava vendors recommend that you space your doses about 15 minutes apart, and don’t take more than eight to twelve ounces of kava (about 2-3 four ounce bowls) for the first few times you drink it, until you know the effect kava has on you. Even though properly prepared kava root doesn’t contain any toxic compounds, it’s good to go slow when you’re introducing a new organic substance into your body. Once you’re comfortable with the way kava affects you, you can try taking a higher dose to achieve a greater euphoric and relaxing effect.

Of course, you should refrain from driving or doing anything that requires reflexes after drinking kava: much like alcohol, kava can impair your motor skills and sometimes result in slightly slowed vision, especially at higher euphoric doses. Be sure not to combine kava with alcohol or any other drugs that have depressant effects such as sleeping pills, to avoid harmful interactions which can otherwise occur when this herb is mixed with other sedatives.

To best enjoy kava’s sedative and euphoric effects, you should wait until the evening to grab a bowl of kava, as is traditional in the South Pacific Islands. People generally prefer to drink kava at night because its sedative qualities can be unproductive during the daytime and can also make sunlight and bright lights painful on the eyes. In all likelihood, you will enjoy kava more if you take it in a dim room, either alone or in the company of friends with whom you can generate in-depth conversations when the kava brew’s socializing effect kicks in. Approach it in a state of mind conducive to relaxation, and kava is sure to please!

30 Responses

  1. Thank you for the info. Only thing I didn’t like was the advice at the end…”Approach it in a state of mind conducive to relaxation…” Pretty hard to do during anxiety attacks! Anyway, thank you again. I got my first bottle of kava kava today and plan to try it tomorrow morning; I get severe panic immediately upon waking for no reason, and the thought of prescription anti-anxieties scares me–lots of family members and friends have gotten severely addicted to Xanax and the like. Really hoping kava works for me so I don’t have to resort to that stuff.

  2. Taylor – I have the same “morning” anxiety as you and have the same attitude towards prescription meds. I have indulged in kava kava in the evenings occasionally and enjoy the subtle effect (I don’t drink a lot and usually make it a little weaker). Just wondering how the morning drink worked for you.

  3. I have been dealing with anxiety for along time but refuse to take pharmaceutical pills.i just purchases Kava from a local health herb store,& I hope this can help me.

  4. I have had severe anxiety for 20 years after having a full blown anxiety attack with shaking hands and legs during work, I r bought kava kava at the health food store ~ it has been a week of calm. I start to feel anxiety but it has been mild and my mind and body are relaxed and I am able to feel free and happy again. It seems to put u in a happy and uplifting mood. I tried everything up to this point nothing else worked. Thank goodness I found kava kava.

  5. Amy,

    Another convert who has found the wonderful calm of Kava! Hopefully you’ll check out our top quality products sometime; not everyone realizes we have the best kava at the best prices, with products arriving regularly directly from kava farms in Hawaii, Fiji, and Vanuatu.


  6. Sam,

    One of the great things about kava is that it has the power to induce relaxation and ease anxiety in many people with few side effects. Probably the most common side effect is mild drowsiness and less frequently headaches and upset stomach can occur at higher doses. Heres a great article that will let you know what to expect when you take kava:

    Team Kava

  7. Hi. What do you do if you have anxiety attack during the day and you need to treat it. Can Kava be taken in tincture form just as the attack is coming on?

  8. Amy,

    Kava is certainly something that can be helpful for managing the symptoms of a panic attack. The tincture is a great way to take kava in this sort of a situation because it goes to work almost immediately, unlike the capsules which can take 10-15 minutes to kick in. I would recommend our Kona Kava Tincture Plus as it is a little bit stronger and you will not need to consume as much to reach desired effects.

    Team Kava

  9. Tried Kava for the first time today and I love it. My chronic anxiety was nowhere to be seen. It’s such a huge relief to have a break from it. Zero panic attacks for the first time in months, none of my usual tremors, and I was so much more productive. The effect was similar to a high dose of lorazapam but without the problem of having to get a prescription, which doctors in my country only give out reluctantly.

  10. The serving size seems difficult to adjust, but less is typically better due to the reverse tolerance (as I read about on this site). I’ve just began trying kava, (I had started with a powder by another mfr) a week ago, just made the switch to the brand, 30% Kavalactone capsules, and it was absolutely shocking to see how much it worked as advertised (the before mentioned mfr was a less quality). Anxiety was decreased significantly, in a work setting, without any effect on my motor function or cognitive abilities (I’m a single (as in no mother is present… at all) father and I work in high dollar sales, I typically stay freaked out haha). I only wish I had known about this sooner! I know this sounds scripted, but it’s for realzies. And to know that I’m using something legal, without the need to go crazy high doses, and that isn’t going to affect me in a way that disables me from my responsibilities… I’m out of words. Keep up the good work!

    Btw, before purchasing any kava, to begin, I started researching (I think it’s only proper to be paranoid about herbs). And your site is what convinced me that I should give this a try. You provided preparation and education on the root, and it put me well at ease long before buying kava; I knew what I was getting into. You guys played aces from start to finish. Bravo my friends! I’m sticking with your product, and you’ve built trust with me (for what it’s worth).

    (sorry for the length and probably the improper place to post this)

  11. Joshua,

    Its wonderful to hear your success story with kava. Here at KavaDotCom we have been aware of the amazing properties of kava and thats why we have made it our mission to produce safe and effective products that our customers can count on. Thanks for the kind words!

    Team Kava

  12. i started taking kava capsules a couple days ago…it seems to help my anxiety but leaves me feeling stoned all day…can i take kava as needed or should i take it daily for it to be effective…i dont much care for the stoned feeling all day.

  13. Ken,

    Most people will find kava to be effective when taken on an “as needed” basis. The effects from one dose of kava last for 3-5 hours after consumption and that will be the period during which you will feel most anxiety relief. Kava does not need to be consumed on a consistent basis to be effective and taking a break for days or weeks will not make kava any less effective when you do resume use.

    As for the “stoned feeling”, the only thing I can recommend is lowering your kava dosage or trying kava in another form. Kava capsules are most popular with people seeking anxiety relief and in my experience capsules have the fewest side effects. If you have any further questions you can email us at [email protected].

    Team Kava

  14. I am currently suffering from anxiety. I recently purchased kava 400 mg capsules. You recommend taking these capsules at nite and only when needed. Can i take them every nite to start then every 2 days if needed?

  15. Brian,

    Today kava is widely accepted to pose no danger to the liver. In the early 2000s there was a fair amount of speculation that kava may have been linked to liver damage in people who consumed it. We now know that those fears were unfounded and most likely resulted from consumption of impure kava.

    In 2007 the World Health Organization conducted a lengthy study on the effects of kava and they fund no evidence that it was causing health problems. You can read their report here:

    Team Kava

  16. Paul,

    Did you purchase those capsules from us? Most of our individual capsules contain 150-200mg of kava and we recommend taking 2 capsules per serving, up to 3 times per day. In other words we recommend a daily limit of 6 kava capsules. It sounds like your plan is well within our dosage recommendations so I’d say go for it!

    Team Kava

  17. Hey all, just bought my first batch of kava and as someone that suffers from anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain, I love the relief I’ve found with kava. As to the potential side effects, I was hesitant to try it myself because of the stories of liver toxicity I read but I found a site that really lays it all out in a very objective and scientific manner so I thought I’d share, hope it can help bring you all the peace of mind about this wonderful herb that it deserves!

  18. Well Thank you Matt,

    I’m truly glad you are a fan of our Kava Products and the peace it brings to the kava users. Hope you become on of our regular costumers.

    Team Kava

  19. What is the difference between kavalctones and kava?
    The bottle says (kava) root 455 mg and DHE 3.2 g (50 mg kavalctones)
    So when I take these capsules – am I ingesting 455 x 2 or 50 x 2 (with respect to responsible dosage,,)
    Because two capsules hasn’t helped me at all. I don’t know if I should take more at once.

  20. Kelli,

    Kava is the name of the product and plant itself. Kavalactones are the active ingredient in Kava that provides the pleasant effects. Typically, Kava has about 10% of naturally-occurring Kavalactones in it. But, there are various products that have different levels of Kavalactone in the Kava. For example 30% Kavalactones have 30% Kavalactone and 70% Kava. A typical powdered Kava root will have 10% Kavalactones, and 90% Kava root.

    Hope that helps!

    Team Kava

  21. Nothing can be worse than taking big pharma drugs like SSRIs. I have noticed that when a herb is proven to work and people start realising it works, all of sudden there will a study done showing it harms your liver or you will get purples spots or some other nonsensical horror.. It’s all rubbish. Follow the money and find out who pays for this so called “research”. It’s almost always Big Phrama. They have a vested interest in preventing you from taking cheap alternatives that have no side effects and in many instances are good for you! Kava has it’s place for anxiety attacks. I can vouch for that. For overall well being and depression nothing beats Ashwaghanda.

  22. I finally found Kava by researching natural herbs that have a similar effect as a Xanax. Due to high stress levels I had a panic attack out of the blue last year and this induced a fun year of anxiety. Like so many others you get prescribed SSRI’s that often don’t really work and come with not so fun side-affects. I must say I was skeptical at first that a natural herb could indeed provide me a similar relief from situational anxiety at work, however based on taking kava capsules for a couple weeks it has done wonders! I have a nice subtle calm that mitigates the anxious feelings that leads to shaking and rapid heart rate.

    I am now looking forward to trying some fresh brewed kava for recreational benefits! I am hoping to find some creative drinks I can make that mitigate the taste. I tried the instant Kava and enjoyed the mouth numbing affects, however the taste was a bit tough for me.

  23. Hi Craig,
    We are happy to hear that you are exploring Kava and its benefits. It is always great to hear about wonders of Kava and how it can help people.
    All the best, and thank you for writing your comment.
    Team Kava

  24. Hi, I just started taking Kava yesterday in liquid form for relaxation and for better sleeping. I do take 50 ml of trazadone each night. Should this be a problem? I did see positive results my first day. Mark

  25. I, too, wonder about the trazodone. I take 100mg for sleep. Should I not take it if I use kava for anxiety?

  26. Kava is a life saver!! I also suffer from GAD, ADHD an sever panic attack’s..I decided to try “yogi stress relief KAVA” and just one bag(78 mg) has done wonders for me..It does make you drowsy which is good to help sleep, which is a huge reason for my anxiety/panic attacks in the 1st place (lack of sleep) Kava stops my heart from pounding out of my chest, eliminates my sweaty palms/feet, clears up my head and allows you to concentrate!! Eventually I will go to 2 tea bags as I’ve read 150mg-200mg does well for anxiety..Hope everyone gets the same relief I do from kava!!!

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