What is Kava and What are Its Benefits

kava root plant

Ever felt like the world is just too loud? We get it. Sometimes, amidst the chaos of daily life, all you crave is a moment of chill. Well folks, let's journey to the Pacific islands and meet kava, a little plant that packs a punch of peace. 

In this guide, we’re going to break down everything kava: from its epic history to its potential perks, how to choose the best blend and where to snag some. Ready to dive into the world of kava? Let's roll!

So, What is Kava?

Kava, or Piper methysticum if you're feeling fancy, is a plant native to the South Pacific islands. Its roots may look ordinary, but for over 3,000 years, these precious roots have been kind of a big deal in the Pacific.

Traditionally, the roots are ground into a powder, mixed with water and strained to create a drink that, let’s be real, won’t be winning any beauty pageants. With an earthy, peppery taste, it’s not everyone's cup of tea (pun intended); however, it’s a staple at Pacific ceremonies and social gatherings.

Kava is not just about chill vibes; it’s also a social glue in Pacific communities. From village ceremonies to casual hangouts, kava is the go-to drink for bonding and easing tensions.

And guess what? The world is catching on! As more folks turn to natural remedies and holistic practices, kava is stepping into the international spotlight. Researchers are diving deep into its properties, making kava not just a Pacific gem, but a global fascination.

kava ceremony

The Benefits of Kava

Kava isn’t just a cultural icon; it’s also hailed for a bunch of potential health benefits. Indigenous communities have been singing its praises for generations, and now modern science is joining the chorus. Here’s a rundown of the goodies people attribute to kava:

  • Chill Out, Stress Less. Kava is said to help ease stress, giving you that calm, relaxed feeling without fogging up your brain.
  • Catch Those Zzz’s. For the sleep-deprived, kava might be a game-changer. Some folks find it helps them nod off more easily and snooze more soundly.
  • Soothe Those Muscles. After a long day, kava can help relax those muscles and potentially aid recovery.
  • Be the Life of the Party. In Pacific cultures, kava ceremonies are all about community bonding. Its mild euphoric effects can help ease social anxiety and boost sociability.
  • Pain, Be Gone. Anecdotal reports and some research suggest kava can act as a pain reliever, particularly for headaches or menstrual cramps.

Now, while many swear by kava's effects, it’s essential to remember that everyone’s body is different, and scientific research on kava is still ongoing. So, always chat with a healthcare professional before adding kava or any other supplement to your routine.

Kava's Vibes: What Does Kava Feel Like?

Alright, let’s get to the good stuff: what’s it actually like to experience kava? If you’ve ever been to a kava bar or joined a kava ceremony, you know there’s a certain buzz in the air. Here’s a sneak peek into what some people report:

  • Relaxation Station. Imagine dialling down the stress of the day and finding a quiet moment amidst the chaos.
  • Clear as a Bell. Just because you’re relaxed doesn’t mean your brain turns to mush. Many users report clear thinking, making conversations or tasks flow smoothly.
  • Good Vibes Only. Expect a subtle lift in spirits and a nudge towards positivity.
  • Tingle Time. Some folks feel a gentle numbing sensation, especially around the mouth. It’s kava’s way of saying ‘hello’.
  • Ease into Comfort. Your muscles might feel like they’ve had a mini massage: less tense and more relaxed.
  • Connect and Bond. Whether you’re flying solo or with a group, kava often brings a sense of connection. 

Keep in mind, everyone’s kava journey is unique. The type of kava, its preparation, and even your body can influence the experience. So, dive in with an open mind and see where the kava wave takes you!

Kava's Timing: How Long Does it Take Kava to Work?

Kava marches to the beat of its own drum, and the time it takes to feel its calming embrace can vary. Here’s a quick breakdown of the factors that can influence the time it takes for kava to kick in:

  • How You Take It. Drinks or tinctures usually hit the system quicker, often within 15-30 minutes. Capsules might take a bit longer since they need to be digested first.
  • What’s in Your Tummy. If your stomach is empty, kava might work its magic sooner. A recent meal, however, might delay the show.
  • Your Body, Your Rules. Everyone’s body responds differently. Some may feel kava’s touch within minutes, while others might take a bit longer.
  • The Kava Type. Different strains and strengths can vary in their onset time.

Remember, just as kava takes its sweet time to grow in the lush Pacific islands, sometimes its effects also ask for a little patience from us.

How Long Does Kava Last?

Typically, kava’s effects last for about 2 to 4 hours. The exact duration can depend on factors like your metabolism, the kava strain used and how you consume it. While some may feel its calming embrace for an extended period, others might experience a shorter window of relaxation. Just remember, as with any natural remedy, everyone’s experience is unique.

kava drink bowl

What Does Kava Taste Like?

Curious about the flavour of kava? Spoiler alert: it's not a fruity cocktail! Kava has an earthy, slightly bitter, and peppery flavour profile that might take you by surprise. 

Don’t worry if you experience a numbing sensation in your mouth; it's completely normal and safe. This numbness is due to the kavalactones in kava, and it usually wears off in about 10-15 minutes, replaced by a calming, relaxed feeling.

If the flavour isn’t your cup of tea, kava capsules are a fantastic alternative. They offer all the soothing benefits of kava without its distinct taste. Remember, the goal is to find a way to enjoy the soothing effects of kava that suits you best.

The Varieties and Strains of Kava

Kava is as diverse as the Pacific islands it comes from. While there are two main categories of kava - Noble and Tudei - under each of these, there are various strains or cultivars that have distinct characteristics and effects. Let's dive a little deeper into what that means.

Noble vs. Tudei Kava

Noble Kava is considered to be of higher quality and is traditionally used in the Pacific islands. It typically induces a more pleasant experience, including relaxation, clear-headedness and a bit of a mood boost.

Tudei Kava, on the other hand, is often associated with more negative effects such as nausea, and next-day drowsiness, which is why it's not recommended for daily consumption. Notably, Tudei kava strains are not found in Fiji.

Kava Strains in Fiji

Fiji is home to 13 distinct strains of kava, all of which fall under the Noble category. These include:

  • Yalu
  • Yonolulu
  • Qila balavu
  • Damu
  • Qila leka
  • Vula kasa leka
  • Vula kasa balavu
  • Dokobana vula
  • Matakaro leka
  • Matakaro balavu
  • Dokobana loa
  • Loa kasa leka
  • Loa kasa balavu

Each of these strains has its own unique characteristics and effects, influenced by the environment in which it's grown. Interestingly, a survey of Fijian kava farms found differences in the kavalactone content produced by these different kava varieties on different farms. This suggests that the same variety of kava may have slightly different effects depending on where it is grown.

Moreover, anecdotal evidence suggests that different kava varieties respond differently to various environmental conditions, such as salinity, drought and disease. This further underlines the importance of selecting and growing kava varieties suited to specific environments, something local Fijian farmers are well aware of.

For more information on the Fijian kava industry and these specific varieties, check out the excellent Fiji Kava Quality Manual published by the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture and Waterways.  

Different Islands, Different Varieties

The different Pacific islands have their own unique strains of kava, developed over generations of cultivation. For example, while Fiji has its 13 recognised varieties, other islands like Vanuatu, Tonga and Samoa have their own indigenous strains with unique characteristics.

Where to buy Kava in Australia

If you're in Australia and looking to buy kava, you're in luck! Kava is available in many health food shops across the country, and you may even find it in some grocery stores. However, for the best quality kava, we recommend purchasing FijiKava.

Why FijiKava?

Our kava is sourced from several noble varieties of kava, ensuring its supreme quality. Cultivated in the pristine environments of the Fijian islands, this guarantees not only the purity but also the potency of the kava. Moreover, strict quality control measures are in place in Fiji to ensure that only the highest quality kava is exported.

For more on our fair-trade sourcing and strict quality control measures, check out our About page.

How to Take Kava

Kava can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, each offering a different experience and level of convenience. It is available in several forms:

  • Traditional Grind Kava Powder. This is the traditional form of kava, made by grinding the root of the kava plant. To prepare, you mix the powder with water and strain the mixture to remove the solid particles. This results in a kava beverage which you can then drink.
  • Instant Kava Powder. This is a more convenient form of kava that does not require straining. You simply mix the instant kava powder with water or your favourite beverage, and it is ready to drink.
  • Kava Capsules. These are capsules filled with kava powder (usually a powdered extract. This is the most convenient way to take kava, as you simply take the recommended number of capsules with water.
  • Kava Tinctures. These are liquid extracts of kava that can be taken by dropping the recommended amount under your tongue or adding it to a beverage.
  • Pre-made Kava Beverages. These are ready-to-drink beverages that contain kava. They are available in a variety of flavours.

Remember to always follow the recommended dosage and instructions on the packaging, and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or are taking other medications.

At FijiKava, we offer several options for consuming kava, each designed to cater to different preferences and needs, from traditional grind and instant kava powder to noble kava root capsules. 

Each of our products is carefully crafted from the finest kava grown in the heartlands of Fiji, offering a convenient and effective way to experience the calming benefits of kava.


Kava is a fascinating plant with a rich history and a wide range of applications. Whether you're interested in it for its traditional significance, its soothing effects, or its potential health benefits, there's a lot to learn and appreciate about kava. 

With so many different ways to enjoy it, from traditional grind powder to convenient capsules, it's easy to find a method that fits into your lifestyle. No matter where your interest in kava takes you, remember to approach it with a sense of curiosity and a desire to learn. Here's to your journey with kava. Bula!

Kava FAQs

Are there any side effects to kava?

While kava is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, some people may experience mild side effects such as headache, dizziness, and stomach upset. The numbing sensation in the mouth after drinking kava is normal and expected. It's always a good idea to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it to see how your body reacts.

Does kava cause liver damage?

There have been a few reports of liver damage associated with kava use, but these cases are extremely rare and often involve the use of non-noble varieties or the use of other medications or supplements that may have interacted with the kava. Noble kava varieties, like the ones used in FijiKava products, have been safely consumed in the Pacific Islands for centuries.

Is it safe to drive after consuming kava?

Kava has a sedative effect, so it's not recommended to drive or operate heavy machinery after consuming kava. It's always best to err on the side of caution and arrange for alternative transportation if you plan on consuming kava.

Can I consume kava if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

There is not enough research on the effects of kava during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so it is best to avoid kava during this time. Always consult your healthcare professional before starting any new supplement during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Can I mix kava with alcohol or other substances?

It's not recommended to mix kava with alcohol or other sedative substances as it can increase the sedative effects and potentially cause drowsiness or dizziness. It's always best to enjoy kava on its own.

Remember to always follow the recommended dosage and instructions on the packaging and consult a healthcare professional if you have any health concerns or are taking other medications.

What are kavalactones?

Kavalactones are the active compounds found in the root of the kava plant. They are a class of lactone compounds that are responsible for the various therapeutic effects of kava, such as the calming and relaxing effects. There are 18 known kavalactones, six of which are primarily responsible for the plant's psychological and physiological effects.

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