On the picture you can see fully grown leaves of a Hawaiian kava plant. The roots of the kava plant are used to make an intoxicating, sedative beverage.

Simon’s Kava Guide

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Kava (Piper methysticum) is a crop native to the Western Pacific (see picture below). Kava has many colloquial names including: kava-kava, awa, sakau, intoxicating pepper etc…

It is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia.

However, kava extract and dried kava has a long shelf life, which made kava popular in areas, where the plant is not native (primarily in North America).

The root of the plant is consumed.


Kava effects:

Kava roots are used to produce a drink with sedative and anesthetic properties.



Interesting: One of the few intoxicating, sedative herbal highs that gets you high without disrupting mental clarity. It is a bit similar to getting drunk but without the mental impairment.


A picture of Kava, Piper methysticum as it grows in the wild. The roots of the kava plant are used to create a psychoactive beverage.
Kava in the wild.


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 Kava-kava guide



Kava’s legal status


The legal status of kava is the third most complicated after magic mushrooms & truffles and marijuana seeds.

Kava was outlawed in 2002 in many countries, because some studies claimed that medications containing kava extract are responsible for liver damage in patients.

Some countries outlawed kava all together, many outlawed only the sale of kava but importing it not for human consumption remained legal, and some countries banned only medications containing kava extracts and the sale of kava, kava root and root extract remained legal.

To make it even more complicated, the findings of the 2002 study were later refuted and the ban on medications & food products containing kava and kava extracts have been lifted in a few countries (most notably in Canada, in 2012).

The following table summarizes everything I could find online up until now.

 Kava – legal status
Switzerlandsale within the country is banned, status of importing is unclear
 Francesale within the country is banned, status of importing is unclear
 Australiaillegal, except personally carrying a maximum of 2 kgs of the plant within the luggage upon entering the country
South Africa illegal
 UKsale within the country is illegal, import is unclear, see the table below*
 Poland illegal
 Netherlands sale withing the country is banned, status of importing is unclear
 Swedensale withing the country is banned, importing is okay


UK*: Kava is banned for import or sale for the purpose of ingestion, but ordering and importing it not for ingestion is legal or at least not penalized.

Source: Cropwatch – Kava kava

Kona kava farm – Kava worldwide legal status
Drugs Forum – Kava kava
Erowid – Kava law
Wikipedia – Kava regulation



Places to buy Kava


Buy Kava – USA

You can buy Kava and Kava extract in the US here:

Buy kava and kava extract /shipped from the US, credit cards accepted/


Buy Kava – Netherlands

It’s illegal to sell Kava within the Netherlands. Try a US vendor.



Kava’s main active ingredient and its effects


A picture of the Kavalactone general molecular structure.

The chemicals responsible for the effects of Piper methysticum are called kavalactones.
Kavalactones have a wide variety of effects including amnestic, analgesic, anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, nootropic, and sedative, hypnotic activity.



Health benefits of Kava


A Cochrane Collaboration systematic review concluded that kavalactones are likely to be more effective than placebo at treating short-term social anxiety.

In clinical studies, kava has been proven to significantly reduce clinical anxiety and stress.

Source: Pittler MH, Ernst E. Efficacy of kava extract for treating anxiety: systematic review and meta-analysis – J Clin Psychopharmacol 2000



Dangers of Kava


There have been claims, that prolonged use of medications containing very high doses of kava might cause liver damage over the long term.
However, this has been disputed and the debate on kava’s hepatotoxicity is still ongoing.



Kava – methods of consumption, preparation, dosage


According to the Kava Committee a maximum dosage of 300 milligrams of kavalactones should not be exceeded.

Source: Psyche Delicacies (2001) by Chris Kilham

However, there is no research to back these claims up. A single portion of traditionally prepared kava in Vanuatu has been measured to contain between 150 – 500 milligrams of kavalctones.*

*Source: Kava.com – Kavalactones dosage

And kava drinkers consume anywhere between 3-5 portions a day for years without no apparent ill effects.


In a hospital setting the typical dosages of kavalactones are:

  • 300 mg, standardized to contain 70% kavalactones,
  • for insomnia it is 210 mg of kavalactones 1 hour before bedtime.


Source: EBSCO Health Libary – Kava


Kava preparation video tutorial


The following video tutorial will show you how to prepare ground kava root for consumption.



/Never use warm or hot water! Only use cold or lukewarm water otherwise the high temperature destroys the kavalactones./




Buy Kava – USA

You can buy Kava and Kava extract in the US here:

Buy Kava and Kava extract /shipped from the US, credit cards accepted/

Buy Kava – Netherlands

It’s illegal to sell Kava within the Netherlands. Try a US vendor.


Kava trip reports


“I decided to purchase a bottle of kava extract (40% kavalactones, app. 2000mg kavalactones per bottle). I tried 800mg kavalactones and, pleased with the mild anxiolytic, euphoric, and very strong muscle relaxant effects that were brought on after about 30 minutes, I decided to down the rest of the bottle.

Anxiolytic effects more pronounced; euphoria and muscle relaxation strong

Feeling VERY sociable, euphoria much stronger, muscle relaxation has practically turned my legs to jello. No cognitive dulling of any sort.

Effects continuing from 10 minutes ago, though exponentially stronger. I feel as if I could take on the world, if I could just make my muscles work properly, lol!

Just one thing to say–how can this stuff be legal???!!!!

Not much change from the 30 minute mark, aside from some pronounced OEV’s, CEV’s, and an almost LSD-like distortion in spacial perceptions.

The effects haven’t subsided in the least in the past four hours, and I hope they never do!

Still feeling the effects strongly, though the hallucinations have subsided just recently.

Most effects subsided, except for moderate muscle relaxation, anxiolysis, and pain relief.

Back to baseline.”

Source: Erowid – Kava -Trip report


“We started with 2 capsules each.

I first noticed an elevation in my mood. I was rediculously happy to be in the shower! I then began to feel very mentally and physically relaxed. All of the issues that had been hampering me seemed to be fading away. I felt sort of ‘stoned’…but not quite like a marijuana stone.

We were completely happy and at peace with ourselves. All of the issues that had us depressed were discussed light-heartedly. We both noticed that the effects of Kava seems to come in ‘waves’…one minute you will feel totally normal, but after a few minutes you are engulfed in a wave of Kava bliss. It was a very memorable experience. “

Source: Erowid – Kava – Trip report


Share your own trip report in the comment section below (to ensure anonymity don’t use your real name or real email address when submitting trip reports)!



Some of the information presented here might be outdated or incorrect (check “last updated” below). Make sure, that if you are planning to try out any of the substances to research them yourself as well.

I’m 100% committed to safe and responsible legal high consumption. If you have a few minutes to spare please read my blog post about responsible and safe legal drugs use

If you’re interested in more legal, natural sedatives, check out Simon’s Guide to Natural Sedatives!

Kava is only one of the legal highs included in Simon’s legal high guide, check out the others as well.


Last updated: 2015. 10. 22

Simon's Kava Guide
Article Name
Simon's Kava Guide
A comprehensive guide to kava kava, kava usage, dosage, consumption methods, legal status included. There are some trip reports of kava users included as well.

3 thoughts on “Simon’s Kava Guide”

  1. Lucid dreamer says:

    Kava has many varieties ( cultivars) , each with a different ratio of drug molecules , which are active either cerebrally or bodily; much like the way cannabis is, the Sativa ( cerebral) ,or the Indica (bodily) So generic Kava is like generic pot. Who knows which way the mix of bioactive ingredients leans. I haven’t had any Kava that I’ve liked, so far. But I haven’t tried the extracts yet.That’s next. I’ll try a couple. Kratom is also known to be on a spectrum of effects between head and body. But I like any and all Kratom varieties that I’ve tried so far ( about 10). Not many vendors offer specific varieties of Kava.

  2. Im new to kava and just want to make sure it is totally legal in the US right??

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