By drinkroot team | estimated read time - 11 min | December 6th, 2022
By drinkroot team | estimated read time - 11 min | December 6th, 2022
One of the most common questions people ask when they first try kava is,
"how long does kava last?"
Short answer that works for most situations is; after drinking kava, you should begin to feel the effects in about 15 minutes and last about 3 hours.
Long answer - The experience will usually peak in the first 30 minutes and last somewhere between 1-3 hours, gradually cooling off over time. Depending on the last time you ate, the length of the effects can be stronger and last longer, with lingering effects some have claimed lasting 18-36 hours. Usually this is the anti-anxiety portion but everyone's body is different.
Please do keep in mind kava doesn’t work the same for everyone. Not everyone will get the same experience and there are several factors to consider that determine how long kava lasts.
We will go over a number of these topics below
Just like most supplements, kava is metabolized in the liver. This is an area where the nutrients that food and drinks that we eat are processed and converted into energy for our body. When you are young you will usually have a fast metabolism and this slows down as you get older. Some people have genetic pre-dispositions to having a slower or faster metabolism long past their teen years, and this can affect how long it takes for the actives in kava to be processed in your body.
So when kava is metabolized, it would have different results for each one of us. People with slow metabolisms will experience a slower rate of metabolization, which will cause food calories or fat to be stored easier in the body. This is the premise of gaining weight as you get older. However, recent studies have shown you can actually speed up your metabolism through weight training and a balanced diet long into your later years. Your body re-learns to convert food into energy right away as it is constantly undergoing hormetic stress which needs a constant influx of caloric fuel. So if you exercise often you may experience kava being absorbed faster and more intensely than your friends who may be sitting on the couch eating cheetos all day.
If you are the one on the couch eating cheetos (not judgement here, we love flaming hot cheetos ) you may have a slow metabolism. Since the breakdown of kava is based upon your metabolic rate, this means the length of time the kava will be absorbed into your system will be stretched over a longer period of time. Due to the slow breakdown your experience could be less intense and you may have to take more to experience the same results.
This is similar to the statistics of overweight or obese people who drink alcohol. When you're on the heavier side, you can usually drink significantly more alcohol than someone who has an athletic body style because your body breaks down the alcohol at a much slower rate
In the kava industry we generally categorize kava's into two types of kava, Noble and Tudei . There are kava varietals but typically they are also all split into these two overarching categories.
Noble kava is the type of kava that can be consumed on a daily basis as you can generally go about your day normally with no problems. Researchers have shown the effects of the noble kava could normally last between one and four hours with lingering anti-anxiety calming effects sometimes up to 36 hours.
Tudei kava, sometimes known as "medicinal kava" in tribal cultures, is not generally recommended because it contains a high percentage of the adverse kavalactones and an undesirable kavalactone profile. However, many farmers like to grow it because it grows very quickly and can be harvested quickly. Because of the undesirable kavalactone profiles, It is known to give hangover-like symptoms. The kavalactone DHM(5) which is responsible for the long lasting sedative effects is considered higher in this type of kava (25xxxx or 52xxxx are common tudei chemotypes). High doses of this specific kavalactone can cause nausea, headaches, and lethargy. With this type of kava, the effects can last up to two days. That is why it is called tudei, which means “two day”.
The kavalactone's are the active materials in the kava plant. The kavalactone content and chemotype also has an effect on how long kava can last. If you drink kava with high kavalactone content, it is possible that you will feel the effects longer. The chemotype can also change the length of the kava experience, as some varietals can have chemotypes with kava being a "quick and heavy" buzz, or kava being a long lasting/stretched mild cerebral feeling. The kavalactone dihydromethysticin is said to have a long lasting sedative effect so keep an eye out for the order of the kavalactones responsible for sedation when driving.
The standard bowl of traditional kava normally contains 250mg+ of kavalactones per serving. The limit approved by the World Health Organization is 300mg of kavalactones per day, which is right around the standard bowl. There are many bars that have bowls with a much higher percentage or concentration of kavalactones per serving so do be careful when drinking kava at a bar.
Increasing your dosage will proportionally increase your kavalactone consumption. Eventually, you will feel the effects faster and it can last longer because you have an overabundance of kavalactones waiting to be broken down by your liver. A long time kava user revealed on a kava forum that he would drink kava in smaller doses throughout the day to make the effects last longer. This may not work for some new kava users, as they often experience reverse tolerance on their first try.
Reverse tolerance takes a bit of time to understand. Some people believe it is the chemical makeup of your unique central nervous system that takes time to adapts, while others may think it's actually just the person getting use to finally listening to their body. With either case, reverse tolerance is a big factor to consider, especially if you are new to kava.
In some circumstances, it may take days to a week or so before you start to feel the results. That is why, it is recommended to double your dosage in the first few days or even weeks of drinking kava to acclimate to the uniqe experience of kava. As you go along with your kava journey we've seen that, you will eventually need less to get the same effects.
There are several ways on how you can make the effects last longer and here are some of the top ones we recommend
The immediate/heavy effects of kava usually only last in our bodies for 1-3 hours. It's quite humorous that the things we recommend you don't do while having kava, are the exact things you CAN do if you want the kava experience to stop or be severely muted. One of the things you can do if you want to stop the effects of kava is to keep yourself distracted. You can turn on the television, watch a movie, listen to a podcast or listen to some music you're a fan of. Change the state of your mind through exterior distractions and you may not notice the kava anymore. We do NOT recommend to walk or drive as the sedative effect can cause your reaction times to slow down or the constant movement can make you feel nauseated. Since kava is an inner feeling if you don't concentrate to much on what kava is doing to your body, the effects may not be that visible. Drinking kava on a full stomach will most likely slow down the effects of kava.
This is actually common and often people think it's due to tudei kava. However, most reputable brands have very strict import regulations on noble kava, so it's uncommon to be able to get tudei in traditional form even if they tried. The only possible exceptions we may know of that could ahve tudei are pill and tincture forms of kava. So if it's not tudei kava, what is it?
The most common reason people feel nauseated or sick the day after kava is because they're severly dehydrated and low on electrolytes. Just like alcohol, tea, coffee, and most experiental beverages, kava is also a diuretic. This means it can deplete your electrolyte storages. Take some electrolytes like pedialyte, drink some water and it should take most, if not all, of the edge off.
If you still feel yourself in a cloudy mental state, we would recommend you to go on a brisk walk or a light jog first thing in the morning. Kavalactones may embed themselves in your fat molecules. In the morning your body is in a fasted state with its glycogen storages depleted. This means if you exercise a bit, it's easier to start burning fat sooner. When you breakdown the fat molecule the kavalactone may also be released. We do recommend not to overdo it thought since the former issue of electrolytes is most likely the case for the heaviness. You don't want to do heavy cardiovascular exercise when you're low on electrolytes.
In conclusion, kava is a really interesting drink but it doesn’t work the same for everyone. The effects of kava and how long it stays in our bodies vary depending on several factors and hopefully this guide was helpful to you on your journey with kava.. Your metabolism, the type of kava you use, the dosage, and the kavalactone content are just some of the factors to consider to determine how long kava last.
Let us know if we missed anything. Make sure to spread the love of kava!
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