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Home / News / Should I Take Kava On An Empty Or Full Stomach?

Should I Take Kava On An Empty Or Full Stomach?

Diana Grace image

By Diana Grace

Published January 22, 2022

“Six of one, half-dozen of the other.” It’s one of those phrases that many of us have heard for years. Unfortunately, some of us don’t even know what it means. 

It just means that whatever you’re trying to choose between, those choices are basically equal to each other. Easy peasy.

That phrase is kind of like when people say, “That’s just splitting hairs.” Because to split a hair is pretty pointless, it doesn’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. 

Both of those phrases seem to be fairly innocuous, neutral even. They don’t seem to hold much of an impact in their sentiment. Right?

But is that right?

Maybe in some circumstances, those phrases don’t hold much of an impact, but in some cases, two things that seem to be very similar might differ just enough to matter. Sometimes “splitting hairs” actually matters. 

Truth be told, you need to know exactly what you’re dealing with on the front end. There are instances where small variations, certain nuances, or a change of circumstances can have a dramatic effect on outcomes.

If you take regular medication, then you probably know that tiny variations in your dosage can have a major impact on how you feel and how your body responds. For example, you need just the right dose of thyroid medication … Otherwise, you’re tired, you’re moody, your hair falls out, and you live in a brain fog. 

Or if you take that same thyroid medication with food, guess what? It won’t work. The food in your stomach interferes with the absorption of your much-needed medication. 

Sometimes, it really is the little things. 

Like … How our bodies respond to different foods and drinks is dependent upon many, many things that vary from person to person. This is especially true when our stomachs are full or when they are empty. 

So when we are taking in substances that affect our entire body like supplements, medications, alcohol, or kava, the way those substances are processed is a big deal. If we swallow it, then our stomachs are automatically involved in that process. That’s why the presence or absence of food in our stomachs must be considered. This is absolutely true when it comes to kava.

That begs the question, should a person take kava on an empty or full stomach? 

Should You Take Kava on an Empty or Full Stomach?

Well, truth be told, there are different schools of thought on this. That means some people will tell you it’s better to drink it on a full stomach while other people will tell you that you should have an empty stomach for hours before partaking in your kava experience. 

Before you can understand where those different schools of thought come from, you first need to know how kava works in the body. 

How Kava Works

First of all, kava is most well-known for the way it relaxes our muscles and calms our minds, sending us into an overall state of zen while simultaneously helping our mental acuity. The main reason kava is uniquely perfect at this is that it has one component no other food or drink on the planet has—kavalactones.

Kavalactones are unique to the kava plant. There are eighteen in total, with six of those kavalactones doing the bulk of the good work. Those six highly-active kavalactones are as follows:

  • Methysticin
  • Kavain
  • Yangonin
  • Desmethoxyyangonin
  • Dihydrokavain
  • Dihydromethysticin

Some of these kavalactones have different physiological outcomes in our bodies. This is a key bit of knowledge that enables you to grasp the effects of kava and how it works.

You’ll immediately notice the earthy scent and look of most brewed kavas. Once it hits your lips, there is no denying that brewed kava is made from a root. Shortly after you swallow your first sips of kava, you will realize something a little crazy is happening in your mouth. 

It’s getting numb up in here!

Yep. Your tongue and lips will go temporarily numb from dihydrokavain and kavain kavalactones. Each of these causes blood vessels to contract in the area, and through that constriction, the kavalactones essentially act as an anesthetic.

In order to achieve mental and physical relaxation, our bodies need all six of the previously mentioned kavalactones to work together. When the six powerhouse kavalactones are doing their job, the results are a mentally clear and focused mind with a relaxed body.

The kavalactones work with the limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain often linked to motivation, emotions, and emotional behavior. It’s the amygdala that functions within the limbic system to govern our feelings of anxiety and fear. 

Kavalactones work to block those receptors within the limbic system. It’s this component of kava that is responsible for decreasing symptoms of anxiety and encouraging our bodies to stay in a chill state of zen. 

There are over 100 varieties of the kava plant. Each variation is made up of a different combination of kavalactones. The combinations are divided into chemotypes that list the kavalactones present in the order from the greatest to least concentration.

The chemotype tells you how the kava you are buying is supposed to affect the average person. It will also tell you which island in the South Pacific where that particular kava was grown and harvested.

So basically, those kavalactones found in the kava root are what deliver the happy chill that only comes from drinking kava. Here is the bottom line:

Kava has been shown to reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety.

One kavalactone cannot bring you zen, it is the blend of these kavalactones that work together to bring the calm state to you.

Alrighty. Let’s get to the question at hand. 


Does Kava Work Better on an Empty or Full Stomach?

Most people will tell you that kava is more effective when taken on a completely empty stomach. This is because any food in your stomach will impede the absorption process of the kava. 

Drinking kava on an empty stomach means that you don’t eat or drink anything other than water for a good four hours prior to grabbing that cup of kava. And keep in mind, kava is a diuretic so you will want to make sure you continue to drink water before, during, and after you enjoy your kava. 

When your stomach is empty it allows the kava to be absorbed into your body much more quickly. The kavalactones are able to make their trek right into your bloodstream so they can begin doing their good work. 

What Happens if You Drink Kava on a Full Stomach?

Well, a quick internet search will fill your feed with all sorts of comments from people who tried kava on a full stomach. Most of them would tell you that kava is definitely less effective after eating. 

If you are going to eat before consuming kava, you need to wait about four hours before you drink it. 

Now, there are people who swear that kava lasts longer when you’ve eaten a little bit of something. They believe that because the kava is absorbed more slowly, the effects of it stretch out for a longer period of time. 

People who adhere to this school of thought will tell you that their kava is not nearly as potent. For some people, this is how they want their kava … although it seems to kind of defeat the purpose for drinking kava, doesn't it?

If you were to visit the island of Vanuatu, all of the locals would tell you to absolutely not eat before consuming your kava. You can have breakfast and lunch, but then do not eat dinner before drinking your traditional shell of kava. 

One person tried kava shortly after eating a Thanksgiving meal and felt as if the kava was only about one-third as normally effective. This same person also tried eating a regular dinner and a full bottle of kava plus an extra shell of kava. 

That much kava would normally knock someone off their feet, but because of all the food in his stomach, he was able to function rather well.

Some people choose to have a small snack before partaking in their kava because it upsets their stomach. If drinking kava makes you a little nauseous, then you’ll probably want to eat a small piece of fruit or a little snack before you have your cup of kava. 

How Much Kava Should You Drink?

When finding the right amount of kava, you’ll need to think in terms of serving size. Serving size will be given on the package of kava that you purchase. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions.

A general rule of thumb is that a serving size takes about three tablespoons of medium-ground kava root powder. If you have micronized or instant kava powder, then you’ll only need about one tablespoon. 

You’ll take that little bit of powder, combine it with about eight to twelve ounces of water, and mix it well. Then your kava is ready to drink. 

Once you’ve tried it with a single dose a few times,  you will be able to tell exactly how one serving of kava affects you. Should you choose to regularly drink kava, you’ll learn more and more about how your body responds. You can also discover which dosage makes you feel the best.

Some people who drink kava regularly know that they’ve had quite enough by the way they start to feel a bit dizzy and almost sick to their stomach. That is your little warning signal from kava that it’s time to stop drinking it for the day. 

Sooo, How Should a Person Go About Drinking Kava?

Well as we’ve already mentioned, at the beginning of your kava journey, you’ll want to try it a few times to see how your body reacts to it. And then, if your goal is to drink kava as a means to relax, calm your mind, and have mental clarity, you may want to begin a regular kava routine.

Drinking kava is not like drinking alcohol. While both may relax you and cause you to be less inhibited, that is where the similarities end. Consuming alcohol on a regular basis causes people to build up a tolerance to it and requires more and more to achieve the outcome that was initially reached.

That is not how kava works. The more you drink kava, the less of it you need to drink to achieve your calm, relaxed, and totally focused state. Yep. Less! Kava’s reverse tolerance effect is caused by the buildup of kava in our bodies over time. 

Many die-hard kava drinkers keep very consistent kava routines. They have felt the benefits of drinking kava and love the positive results. These people drink kava five to seven days each week. 

It may take a bit of experimentation on your part to determine the best time to drink your kava. Once you know how your body and mind react, this will help you figure out when you should grab your cup of brewed kava.

So, by this point, you should have gathered that kava works its magic better on an empty stomach. (There are those who need a very small snack because of stomach upset, but this is rare.) You’ll need to plan your meals accordingly so you can drink your kava on an empty stomach.

Drinking a cup of brewed kava a few hours after lunch but before dinner is a good place to start. You’ll probably feel just a little hungry and know that your stomach is empty enough to grab your kava. After your kava kicks in, you can have your meal.

Some people may choose to have a second shell of kava a few hours after dinner. Kava is also known for helping people’s bodies relax and their minds to stop racing, so sleep comes easier and goes deeper. 

What If You Aren’t Comfortable Brewing Your Kava?

If you are not sure about brewing your own kava, that’s okay. You don’t need to do research to find the most trustworthy ground kava manufacturer. You don’t even need to read about all the islands of the South Pacific and the variation of kava harvested on each of them.

Do you need to understand chemotypes and the six main kavalactones? Do you need to know which island you should buy your kava from? No. No you absolutely do not need to do either of those things. 

You don’t have to study dosages and try to determine what amount to drink. You don’t even need to buy the accessories to brew your kava. 

None of that is necessary to enjoy the benefits of drinking kava. Do you know why? Because we have done all of the work for you. Yep. See? One less thing for you to stress about!

Calming Co. has you covered. We see your need to relax and reduce the level of anxiety and stress you're dealing with on a regular basis. We see your need to have somebody who cares enough to do seriously thorough kava research for you. 

We sought the best of the best to help us create the highest-quality kava blend available. Our Chief Scientist and Director of Formulation has a doctorate in molecular cell biology. Dr. Weeks has been published countless times over the last thirty years.

He is so widely respected for his knowledge that he speaks all over the world presenting his research. He’s been invited to speak to the Society for Neuroscience, Society for Cell Biology, The American Society of Nephrology, and The Congress of Biochemistry, to name a few.

With the guidance of Dr. Weeks, we made a unique formula created with plant-based ingredients. All of the active ingredients in our kava blend have been clinically tested in double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. 

And guess what? We put our kava blend to the test with actual people. We did not check the reactions of bunnies or monkeys. Because we chose to use real people, we made a name for ourselves straight out of the lab and right onto the store shelves. 

Our recipe is the perfect blend to relieve the everyday stress many of us deal with on a regular basis. We combined the best noble kava with four other natural ingredients to enhance the effectiveness of the kava.

To the noble kava, we have added:

  • Ashwagandha:  It provides you with natural stress relief because it reduces the levels of our stress hormone, cortisol. 
  • L-Theanine: It brings you natural calm and better focus. L-Theanine can be found in green tea and boosts GABA levels in your brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps to put a stop to the stress signals going off in our brains. Say hello to calm!
  • Chamomile: It is used to reduce stress in our bodies. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties, improves gut health, reduces body stress, and boosts GABA. Grandma was right about the calming effects of a cup of chamomile tea! 
  • Lemon Balm: It is known for reducing agitation. (Parents of … well, any children … lemon balm may be just what you need to make it through the day!) Lemon balm stimulates the major inhibitory neurotransmitter pathway that encourages relaxation while diminishing agitation. Yes, please!

Do you know what’s even better? Our Ü Relax Calming Tonic tastes good! It doesn’t taste like dirt. That fact alone is enough to make some of you give it a try. And you should. 

We have done all the work for you, so go ahead and give Ü Relax a try. You can drink it at work. Seriously, you can! Read our reviews and hear from people who have great things to say about drinking our kava blend in the office. 

Remember, it’s still a kava beverage. So we suggest you drink it on an empty stomach to get the true benefits. 

In the End …

Little things can make all the difference. A little bit of food in your stomach can mean the difference from your kava working at sixty percent effectiveness rather than working at one-hundred percent effectiveness on an empty stomach.

Kava will be more effective when it is consumed on an empty stomach. If you’re trying kava for the first time, please consider drinking Ü Relax. There is no guesswork. The mixing is done for you. Our kava is so finely ground that your body can process it well.