Piper Methysticum – Kava Kava


Kava has received widespread attention for its relaxing and stress-reducing properties.

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Studies suggest kavalactones may have the following effects on the body:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Protect neurons from damage
  • Reduce pain sensations
  • Reduce the risk of cancer, though the evidence is limited to mice

Most of the research has focused on kava’s potential to reduce anxiety.

It is largely unknown how kavalactones produce these effects, but they appear to work by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that nerves release to communicate with each other.

One of these neurotransmitters is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which decreases the activity of nerves

Kava Tincture or Liquid

This is a liquid form of kava sold in small bottles ranging in size. You can take it with a dropper or mix it into juice or another drink to cover its whiskey-like taste.

It’s essential to only take a small dose, as the kavalactones are concentrated, making kava tincture and kava liquid more potent than other forms.

Mechanisms of Action

Kavain and methysticin block sodium ion channels, leading to a decrease in cell excitability. By blocking sodium channels, kavain also reduces excitatory neurotransmitter release. Kavain and methysticin decrease stimulatory pathways, possibly leading to a calming effect.

Yangonin, kavain, dihydrokavain, methysticin, dihydromethysticin, and kava pyrones increase GABA in the brain (hippocampus, amygdala, and medulla oblongata). When GABA-A receptors are activated, neurons are inhibited, which may have sedative and anti-anxiety effects.



Baek, J. H., Nierenberg, A. A., & Kinrys, G. (2014). Clinical applications of herbal medicines for anxiety and insomnia; targeting patients with bipolar disorder. The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry48(8), 705–715. https://doi.org/10.1177/0004867414539198

Dinh, L. D., Simmen, U., Bueter, K. B., Bueter, B., Lundstrom, K., & Schaffner, W. (2001). Interaction of various Piper methysticum cultivars with CNS receptors in vitro. Planta medica67(4), 306–311. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2001-14334

Weeks B. S. (2009). Formulations of dietary supplements and herbal extracts for relaxation and anxiolytic action: Relarian. Medical science monitor: international medical journal of experimental and clinical research15(11), RA256–RA262.



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