Kava is one of the most powerful options to Kratom known. Kava is a herb that produces a calming effect similar to Kratom. It also helps relax muscles and evoke a sense of contentment like that of Kratom. It is prepared in the same way as Kratom i.e. tea. It relieves anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and stress-related chronic pain and muscular spasm. Due to these pharmacologic actions, Kava is supposedly the best alternative to Kratom, and thus it is widely used in many parts of the world as a replacement to Kratom.
How does Kava work similar to Kratom?
Kratom is a psychoactive drug that provides you an active and socially hyperactive effect after consuming small doses, whereas a higher dose creates calming effects, relieves pain and enables you to experience a state of euphoria.
Kratom is also used as an anti-anxiety drug that also reduces stress disorders and helps relax muscles. Different strains of Kratom have different properties, but it is a mood stimulant, sedative, and a pain killer.
Similarly, Kava acts by reducing stress, alleviates pain and serve as an anxiolytic, and at the same time, it serves as a muscle relaxant. It specifically helps reduced muscular tension and cramps. It helps in making one feel light and calm. Thus he/she has better conversations and has a happy mood.
The two drugs are also similar in the method of consumption. Both are found in the pill form. Their leaves and root can be dried to be either chewed directly or to be used in making tea.
However, due to individual differences, we cannot say that Kava replaces Kratom a 100%.
The most important difference is that Kratom acts on opiate receptors while Kava interacts with the limbic system of the brain. Nonetheless, both Kava and Kratom produce almost similar effects, Kava being less addictive compared to Kratom.
What is Kava?
Scientifically called Piper Methysticum, also known as kava kava, Kava Pepper, Ava Pepper, Sakau, Tonga this plant is known for its sedative qualities. It has a traditional consumption as a hypnotic, psychotropic and anxiolytic. It is consumed like alcohol. This plant resembles in producing effects that are similar to that of alcohol, alleviating anxiety, creating a sense of calmness, acting as an analgesic as well as an anti-depressant. It enhances sociability and helps you with your mood swings.
What is Kava composed of?
Kava contains the following bio actives that give it characteristic properties:
- A mixture of six bio actives that are collectively known as kavalactones or kavapyrones (methysticin, dihydromethysticin, kavain, dihydro kavain, yangonin, and desmethoxyyangonin). These are the main active ingredients.
- 12 other lactones
- Small amounts of awaine, pipermethystine
- Derivatives of Kavain known as Flavokavains
How do Kava works?
Kava works by the following ways:
The active ingredient Kavain does this.
Kavapyrones enhance GABA(A) signaling through other ligands by increasing the number of binding sites. Dihydromethysticin mainly mediates this action. This induces a state of sedation.
Kava increases extracellular dopamine, but some of its active ingredients can also cause inhibition of D2 receptors of dopamine. Kawain decreases levels of dopamine while dihydro kawain and desmethoxyyangonin increase it.
Isolated dihydromethysticin can increase levels of serotonin while desmethoxyyangonin decreases it.
What effects does Kava produce?
Kava used as a therapy for Anxiety
Some clinical studies and users on different drug forums and Reddit state that Kava is effective in treating the symptoms associated with stress. It is an herbal remedy for stress, anxiety, and insomnia. The kavalactones in Kava are responsible for operating in the brain via non-opiate pathways. Some studies suggest that Kava is as good as benzodiazepines.
Kava does not produce cardiac or reproductive abnormalities, so it is a preferred drug, but cases of liver toxicity have raised some questions about Kava as the drug of choice of the treatment of anxiety.
Kava as a remedy for Mood swings
Kava helps in reducing mood swings and increasing cheerfulness like Kratom. It induces a healthier and pleasant feeling. Menopausal women take it to help them with their mood swings without affecting other systems of the body. Some Reddit users have reported that Kava also increases libido.
Kava as a therapeutic support for Addiction
Kava just like Kratom has a significant value when it comes to therapeutic support of substance abuse. Kavapyrones are responsible for binding to particular receptors in brains that are associated with cravings and addiction.
Kava promotes better sleep
Kava is the best herbal remedy for inducing sleep and fighting off insomnia like Kratom. Kava has sedative actions as that of Kratom. It helps improve the quality of sleep and the duration of time required to fall asleep.
Kava helps fight cancer
Flavokawains present in Kava, have anticancer properties. It inhibits the growth of tumor cells present in prostate and also helps in prevention of metastasis. It also boosts the immune system as it possesses anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps combat breast cancer by decreasing the weight and volume of the tumor.
Are there any side effects of Kava?
Kava is hepatotoxic; it should not be used continuously for more than three months. With the continuous use of Kava, there is yellowing of skin, hair, and nails, and it also causes allergic skin reactions in some users. Long-term Kava use can lead to shortness of breath, liver issues, scaly rash on the skin, facial puffiness and swelling.
What precautions should I take when consuming Kava?
- Avoid mixing Kava with any prescription drugs.
- Do not drink concentrated extracts of Kava
- Don’t drive after intake of Kava as it has sedative properties.
- If you have liver disease, do not drink Kava.
- Breastfeeding mothers should avoid the consumption of Kava
- Take Kava under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.
- Do not drink alcohol while taking Kava.
As stated above, the properties and action of Kratom and Kava match to the considerable amount, thus it can be said that Kava is the strongest alternative to Kratom, though users on Reddit report that Kratom is more potent when it comes to analgesic action as well as stimulating mood and increasing mental alertness.
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- Sarris J, LaPorte E, Schweitzer I. Kava: a comprehensive review of efficacy, safety, and psychopharmacology. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;45(1):27-35. doi: 10.3109/00048674.2010.522554. Epub 2010 Nov 15.
- Ulbricht C, et al Safety review of kava (Piper methysticum) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration . Expert Opin Drug Saf. (2005)
- Singh YN Kava: an overview . J Ethnopharmacol. (1992)
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