About Kava and Marijuana

December 20, 2018

A Match Made in Heaven or Disaster Waiting to Happen?

Author Ashley McCarthy / Category Kava / Published: Dec-06-2018

The combination is definitely not for the faint of heart, with users remarking the experience as “somewhat psychedelic”, “twice the fun" and “extreme euphoria.. almost like MDMA.

With the growing legalization of cannabis to the public as well as the re-introduction of kava to the market, it was only a matter of time that purists of both sides began to meddle into the mixture of the two.

"What is the combination like?" "Why does it work like this?" "What in the world were people thinking when they mixed them?" and of course, "Is this safe?"

We don't condone in mixing the two, but these were just a couple of the questions that sprang to our mind over the last few weeks.

To be honest, this all of this came as a shock to us, as we thought our supporters were only using the tea alone. It wasn’t until we ran a few surveys (thanks to a hint from a little bird) and found a whopping 29% of our users were mixing the two. Of this group, 78% were exploiting the relationship on a regular basis.

Baby Kava Plant Copyright DrinkRoot

But it turns out the lovely combo is no stranger to history, being praised for its synergistic use for as long as we can tell. Tribal stories speak of the spiritual/psychoactive combination as a necessary step in deep ritualistic experiences causing visions and quasi-multi-dimensional awareness.

Clinical trials are sparse since, obviously, it has been hard to fund a research grant investigating the mixture of the two. But anecdotal evidence suggests the combination intensifies the effects of both the kava and the cannabis, due to their active constituents working on the body through the same channels.

PA: During the article, please keep in mind we are referencing only traditionally consumed aqueous based kava tea. We DO NOT RECOMMEND partaking kava through extract forms such as pills, resins, or tinctures. They are not equivalent to aqueous extracts and are suspected to cause liver hepatotoxicity. If you haven't read this post on kava extracts yet, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND you do -> Kava extracts

No paranoia, music is amplified extensively, almost like MDMA, extreme euphoria, and very strong CEV's smoked the same weed a few hours before as a control test, completely different, the clarity and intensity is unreal with the kava added if you haven't tried this combination You need too.."

- Hidden User

What should S.W.I.M.* expect?

Depending on the chemotype of kava and the strain of cannabis you are using using, the results will range quite dramatically. Like your own custom sundae at the local ice cream shop, you can customize the experience to your liking and create your own orgasmic concoction.

Kava comes in different kavalactone chemotypes depending on where and what variety is grown and/or blended. This is why we recommend beginners to stop focusing primarily on kavalactone %, because it's more important to focus on the chemotype. There are 6 common kavalactones which are the major constituents to make up a particular strain of kavas chemotype.

Example of High Performance Liquid Chromatography analysis. Here 6 and 1 are Kavain and Dihydrokavain, respectively. credit Journal of Chromatography B "Analysis of kavalactones from Piper Methysticum (Kava-Kava)

The six major Kavalactones are ordered by the numbers as follows (Example of a High Performance Liquid Chromatography analysis)

1-Desmethoxyyangonin, 2-Dihydrokavain, 3-Yangonin, 4-Kavain, 5-Dihydromethysticin, 6-Methysticin

Each kavalactone generates slightly different effects in the consumer, and the order order they are in will let you know the expected strength and acute onset of each characteristic effect.

Ex. Kavalactone chemotypes in the 42xxx range will have high headiness and anxiety releasing properties due to the much sought after "Kavain" kavalactone (#4), and followed up with a nice GABA enhanced experience from the Dihydrokavain kavalactone (#2).

And vice versa kavalactone chemotypes in the 24xxx range have will have a GABA effect over the headiness, and the user will feel a more acute body experience over the anxiety-releasing euphoric experience. Obviously this is just scratching the surface and we will go more in depth on this in the future for you.

Cannabis is similar in that there are two genetic structure categories that strains are commonly classified into, Indica and Sativa (although the correlative effect between the two strains is considered moderate and do not reflect a meaningful genetic identity). To which the dominance of certain effects usually depends on the dominance of either sativa of indica class, as well as dominance of strain of each genetically bred parent. Indica blends tend to be more of a slow, relaxing, body high, closer to the hemp strain. While the Sativa blend is usually a more awake, lively and giggly experience.

So when you combine, let's say, the Cannabis strain Girl Scout Cookies (a 40%/60% Indica dominant) with the DrinkRoot Connoisseur, which has a 243xxx chemotype, you will have a significantly heavier pain-relieving experience than taking either solo, because both blends have strong qualities for a body sedating experience.

Often users who experience bouts of anxiety from marijuana find solace in the mixture, as kava acts to wash away the associated anxiety from certain strains of cannabis due to its clinically consistent anti-anxiety effects

"Something this good can't be safe"

The jury is still out, but it seems it actually may be safer than you think.

As previously mentioned, there is a lack of clinical trials for the mixing of the two for obvious reasons, and it should never be done without the consent of your medical provider.

However, research aside, it is well known the two substances are traditionally processed through entirely separate regions of the body; Kava is ingested and processed through the liver and Marijuana is traditionally inhaled through the lungs.

Yet it is a good thing to keep in mind, recommendations by enthusiasts of the blend state to not incorporate the same amount of either as to that which you are used to, because they tend to potentiate (magnify the effects) of each other

So if an individual usually intakes half a gram of marijuana or three grogs (servings) of kava tea, he/she shouldn't take anywhere near either amount if being mixed. A quarter of what one is used to is a good start.

Kava and the Cannabinoid System

So how does kava relate to marijuana and why do they enhance each other? Well to open up this box of worms let’s first dive into one of the ways kava acts on the body.

Through our unique and innate physiological regulator, the endocannabinoid system.

By now you have heard about marijuana and the effects of its primary psychoactive constituent, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). What you probably don't know is that this is running off a system already present in our bodies. Your body produces natural cannabinoids to bind to your already present cannabinoid receptors. The receptors are kind of like base blocks, or keyholes. When these cannabinoids traveling through the body bind/connect to these receptors, the result produces widespread influences affecting pain modulation, memory, mood, appetite, as well as inflammatory and other immune system responses.

There are two types of receptors; CB1 and CB2.

CB1 receptors are commonly found in the brain, but also are found in the lungs, liver, and kidneys. CB1 receptors directly influence neurotransmitters such as GABA, dopamine, and serotonin.

CB2 receptors are also found in the brain, but not as densely as CB1 receptors. CB2 are also found in the intestinal tract, and are more important for regulating analgesic effects of the peripheral nervous system

Okay so THC works through this system, but what about kava?

Credit: Jeremy Friedberg- The Human Endocannabinoid System MedReleaf

Well here's a hitter, as you know by now, kava contains active ingredients known as kavalactones. One kavalactone known as Yangonin, is a known CB1 receptor ligand. This simply means Yangonin and its little brother dexmysticismyangonin, have been shown to house a binding affinity for the endocannabinoid system. You can think of it as an in-phase addition of amplitudes for effect. But this is just scratching the surface because yangonin is only one of the believed reasons for its anxiolytic CB receptor effects on the body.

More in Depth on the Psychoactive Relationship

Grog of kava kava Copyright DrinkRoot

The kavalactones have shown to exert their effects in many more possible mechanisms. Another being the enhanced potentiation of GABA receptor binding activity by 5 of the top kavalactones present in kava (kavain, dyhidrokavain, methysticin, dihydromethysticin, and yangonin).

But the real kicker, is the kavalactones odd characteristic for reverse inhibition of monamine oxidase B inhibition (RIMA), a subclass of MAOI's

What is that and why is this important?

Well monoamineoxidase is a neurotransmitter which prevents the transmission of neurostimulants cross the blood brain barrier. This is more or less the body's natural mechanism to keep your neurochemicals in balance, but also works to prevent large amounts of psychoactive stimulants binding to the sodium gated ion channels and dumping large amounts of serotonin.

Ie, it blocks a large amount of the effectiveness of a drug. MAOI's were originally developed as a class of antidepressents to stop this blocking, but are heavily regulated due to their inclination to "open the flood gates", so to speak, in the blood brain barrier, allowing OTC drugs to be magnitudes stronger than they were designed to be, and prolonging the effect far past desired amounts.

Kava's kavalactones, specifically DMY, are natural reversible MAO-B inhibitors, which lightly mimic MAOI's but do not bond as strongly to MAO and work primarily on metabolizing the dopamine neurotransmitter. This basically means the kavalactones characteristics may inhibit the enzyme that breaks down the psychoactive constituents in marijuana. Thereby making a very weak hit of "shake" feel like a gram of "trainwreck."

"Kava and weed' is like 'warm brownies and ice cream'. Having each together makes the other better.."

- mossyskeleton


The recent boom of kava tea and marijuana has shown there is a definite interest for a new less-violent social lubricant than what has been traditionally offered.

We must note, DrinkRoot does not condone the combination of the two, and does NOT RECOMMEND IT.

We also do not condone the use of illegal narcotics (Marijuana is still illegal in most states), and please do not operate heavy machinery or drive while under the influence of either.

We're just scratching the surface of these two fascinating compounds at the moment, so jumping the gun and combining them should be taken with caution and under medical supervision.

However, if S.W.I.M. has tried combining the two, let us know what you think about it in the comments below.


*S.W.I.M. - "Someone who isn't me"

*DrinkRoot staff members are research fanatics, but NOT medically trained professionals. Please consult a medical physician before attempting anything in the aforementioned article. We (DrinkRoot) are not responsible for the use or mis-use of the information contained within the article

Keywords: kava tea and marijuana, kava kava, maoi