Exploring the Harmony of Kava and Weed

kava tea in a bowl

When exploring new supplements, it’s wise to think ahead and consider the way they might interact with other substances you consume. Mixing certain substances together can actually enhance the overall experience, while mixing other substances can be extremely dangerous.

So where exactly does that leave cannabis and kava?

The two natural substances have both hit the modern-day wellness market to varying degrees, each offering up alternative options for consumers to unwind and relax. But before you mix the two, keep reading to learn more about what exactly you can expect from kava and weed together.

Key Takeaways

  • Kava and cannabis are both natural substances consumers use to help unwind and aid in their personal wellness routines.
  • While some cannabis strains can be more heady and uplifting, kava is more sedating. Some consumers may find it helps to reduce stress and help with sleep, though more research is still needed.
  • Mixing kava and weed generally enhances the effects of both substances, amping up the more sedating effects of kava with the euphoria of cannabis.

What is Kava?

Kava comes from the ground roots of the plant Piper methysticum, which is native to the South Pacific. It’s taken as a drink, supplement, or extract and has been used throughout history as a part of traditional ceremonies and cultural practices among the South Pacific Islands. The name “kava” comes from the Polynesian word “awa,” which means “bitter.”

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis, marijuana, weed, pot — the list goes on — all describe the plant containing THC, which offers consumers a psychoactive experience upon ingestion. Cannabis can be smoked, eaten, or vaporized and comes in a number of different forms. The plant has a number of medical applications, though many consumers use cannabis recreationally as a way to relax, socialize, enhance creativity, or simply to add a little something extra to their day.

What is the Difference Between Kava and Weed?

Both Kava and Cannabis have been popular, natural substances for a long time (both have been around for thousands of years). They are also similar in that they are both used (typically) for their relaxing, anxiolytic effects. However, there are differences between the two - in their chemical makeup, their origins, and the way they work in the body, and it is important to recognize these differences.

A simplified answer is: although both cannabis and kava can enhance relaxation, kava is non-psychoactive (it does not get you high), whereas weed is psychoactive (it does get you high).

What Does Drinking Kava Feel Like?

Kava is mostly known for its relaxing qualities, though it’s also said to elevate mood as a whole, and increase feelings of wellbeing and contentment. The effects of kava on the body feel similar to that of a typical indica cannabis strain, ushering in a mellow feeling of bodily sedation soon after ingesting, without the cognitive effects that come with cannabis and THC.

The duration of effects depends on the variety and strength of the kava, though users can expect to feel the full extent of effects for one to three hours. Many users also report that some residual relaxing effects can last even longer.

Some studies have suggested that kava could help to reduce anxiety, and other research has suggested that it could carry potential as a sleep aid. Research on kava is still limited however, so the science as a whole is still catching up.

How Does Smoking Weed Affect Kava?

Generally, smoking weed while drinking kava will intensify the effects of both substances. Similar to mixing in CBD with a high-THC blend, adding kava to the mix often removes some of the anxiety that may come with cannabis. Conversely, adding weed into the mix can also increase the more sedating, mellowing effects that come with kava.

What Happens When You Mix Kava and Weed?

Both kava and cannabis work synergistically to activate the CB1R receptors of the endocannabinoid system, meaning that mixing kava and cannabis is similar to the entourage effect. This theory indicates that the more cannabis compounds a person consumes together (including terpenes, flavonoids, cannabinoids, and more), the more pronounced the effects of all those compounds will ultimately be.

Overall, mixing kava and cannabis in moderation appears to be generally safe, though some of the effects will be more pronounced for infrequent cannabis users especially. For those brand new to kava, it may be most beneficial to try the substance on its own first before mixing in weed. As you should when trying any new substance, it’s best to start small and work your way up. Be sure to stick to the recommended kava doses as well! It is generally safe in moderation, though hefty doses or using kava too often can cause health issues.

It’s also recommended to avoid alcohol when using kava, as the two substances together can lead to liver damage.

Potential Benefits: Combining Forces The Synergy of Kava and Cannabis

When kava and cannabis are used together (in moderation, of course), they can create a unique, euphoric relaxation. So, what are the potential benefits of this combo? And what about the risks? Great questions! Let's dive in and find out!

Boosted Relaxation and Stress Relief

One of the most prominent and talked-about benefits of mixing kava and cannabis is the boosted sense of calm and relaxation. For those dealing with chronic stress, this combo might just offer the extra soothing effect they need.

Improved Sleep 

If you struggle getting quality sleep one thing you should know is that you're not alone - you're one of 50 to 70 million people in the United States (yes, you read that correctly - millions), that deal with chronic sleep issues. The synergistic calming effects of cannabis and kava can make it easier to fall asleep and stay sleep.

Pain Management

Cannabis is a rockstar for pain relief, with more research showing it can help people with chronic, mild to moderate pain. Kava also has mild pain-relieving effects that can complement cannabis, potentially reducing swelling and inflammation in the body for natural relief.

Mood Boost

If you've got a mild case of the blues, mixing kava with wee might just lift your spirits. Both work with the brain's neurotransmitters (cannabis works with the body's own endocannabinoid system) to boost happiness and well-being.

Less Social Anxiety

If social anxiety's got you stressed, join the club. Kava and cannabis can be a game-changer. Kava’s been used for ages to chill out and reduce inhibitions in social settings. Paired with cannabis, it can help ease those social jitters, making it easier to hang out and have fun.

Potential Risks and Things to Consider

While mixing kava and cannabis can be great, you should be mindful of the risks and proceed with caution. Both substances can have side effects, and how they interact isn’t fully known - there have been no studies done on this combination (most of what we know is anecdotal evidence). Here’s what you should keep in mind:

Start Low and Go Slow

Even if you are not new to kava or cannabis, starting with a low dosage is a good idea - and if you are a newbie, only start with one substance at a time to see how your body responds. Both can hit hard, and affect people in different ways, so it’s best to take it easy at first!

Talk to a Pro:

If you have any health issues or are taking other meds, you should definitely check in with a healthcare professional before combining kava and cannabis. Your healthcare practitioner can give you tips and personalized advice to avoid any bad reactions (and this advice may just be to avoid this combination altogether).

Quality Matters

Quality always matters, especially in the case of sourcing cannabis and kava products. Use high-quality kava and cannabis from reputable sources. Poor-quality stuff can be risky and might give you unwanted side effects.

Stay Safe out There

Both kava and cannabis can alter your perception and impact your motor skills (i.e. your motor skills will not improve). Don’t drive or operate heavy machinery while using them to keep yourself and others safe.

Know the Law

Unfortunately, the legal status of kava and cannabis isn’t the same everywhere. We know, this is annoying! This makes it vital for you to know the rules in your area to stay out of trouble.

Creating Your Perfect Blend

To create your perfect blend of kava and cannabis, consider the following tips:

Pick the Right Strains

Different cannabis strains do different things. Some strains, like many indica strains, can be grounding and chill you out, while others can be more uplifting and make you feel more creative. When mixing with kava, go for strains that help you relax and stay calm.

Play Around with Dosages

Getting the right mix of kava and cannabis might take some trial and error. Start small with both and tweak the amounts until you find what works for you.

Listen to Your Bod

Pay close attention to how you feel with the kava-cannabis combo. A good idea (this is just a suggestion) is to keep a journal to track any changes you notice and note how you feel in the moment. Everyone's different, so what works for one person might not for another. If you feel any bad effects, adjust your doses or stop using them.

Final Thoughts

Kava on its own is a great alternative to cannabis, though the two also work together extremely well for a number of consumers. As folks often use cannabis and kava to unwind and relax, it makes sense that the two substances make a good pair. Be sure to start slow, stick to recommended doses, and know your own limits when it comes to mixing kava and cannabis.

Otherwise, enjoy the mellowing benefits each (or both) have to offer!

FAQ

Can You Take Kava and CBD Together?

Yes. Both kava and CBD are known for their calming and relaxing properties, which can be particularly beneficial when dealing with stress, anxiety, or insomnia. Kava is renowned for its ability to ease social anxiety and promote a sense of well-being, while CBD is celebrated for its anti-inflammatory properties and overall calming effect on the body.

When combining kava and CBD, it's important to start with low doses of each to understand how your body responds. Both substances can have powerful effects, and finding the right balance for you is key. As always, consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.

What Can You Not Mix with Kava?

While kava is beloved for its calming and stress-relieving properties, it’s important to be mindful of a few things that don’t mix well with it. First off, avoid consuming kava with alcohol. This is a no-no. Both kava and alcohol have sedative effects, and combining them can amplify these effects, potentially leading to excessive drowsiness, impaired coordination, and even liver damage. Similarly, steer clear of other substances that depress the central nervous system, such as benzodiazepines and opioids, as the combined effects can be dangerous.

Another thing to watch out for is mixing kava with certain medications. Particularly, medications metabolized by the liver can interact with kava, as kava can alter liver enzyme activity. This could potentially change how your body processes these medications, leading to unexpected effects or reduced efficacy. Always check with your healthcare provider before mixing kava with any prescribed medication.

Lastly, be cautious with stimulant substances like caffeine or certain energizing herbs. While it's not strictly prohibitive, combining kava’s relaxing effects with stimulants can send mixed signals to your system, potentially leading to discomfort or less effective results from both substances. Keep these guidelines in mind to ensure your kava experience is both enjoyable and safe!

References

1) Shinomiya, K., Inoue, T., Utsu, Y., Tokunaga, S., Masuoka, T., Ohmori, A., & Kamei, C. (2005). Effects of kava-kava extract on the sleep–wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats. Psychopharmacology, 180(3), 564–569. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-005-2196-4

2) Taibi, D. M., & Landis, C. A. (2009, January 1). Chapter 4 - Valerian and Other CAM Botanicals in Treatment of Sleep Disturbances (R. R. Watson, Ed.). ScienceDirect; Academic Press. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780123742285000044

3) White, J. D. (2014, January 1). 33 - Complementary and Alternative Medicine (J. E. Niederhuber, J. O. Armitage, J. H. Doroshow, M. B. Kastan, & J. E. Tepper, Eds.). ScienceDirect; Churchill Livingstone. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9781455728657000333

4) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep-deprivation

5) Hill KP. Medical Marijuana for Treatment of Chronic Pain and Other Medical and Psychiatric Problems: A Clinical Review. JAMA. 2015 Jun 23-30;313(24):2474-83. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.6199. Erratum in: JAMA. 2016 Sep 6;316(9):995. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.11456. PMID: 26103031.

Reading next

a tincture of oil next to a green cannabis leaf
purple cannabis plant