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Home / Your Driest January Ever / Day 2 - Kava Vs Alcohol: The Ultimate Guide

Day 2 - Kava Vs Alcohol: The Ultimate Guide

By Adam Davies

Published January 8, 2024

The tradition of going out for cocktails with friends has long been a staple of adult life but there are many who are making the switch from alcohol and cocktails to kava and kava-based products. While there will always be a demand for alcohol, kava has gained popularity as a health and wellness product and as a social construct!

There are a lot of benefits to kava that make it an attractive substitute or addition to going out for drinks with friends or having a beverage at home. Before you head out to buy your own, there are a few things you’ll need to know about kava and the association with alcohol!

What is Kava?

What is Kava? Kava in plant form, before being processed.

Kava is made from the roots of Piper methysticum, a type of plant in the Pacific Ocean. The roots are traditionally dried and then crushed before mixing with water to make a drink. Cultures in the Pacific Islands have been drinking kava for hundreds of years but the supplement is just starting to gain traction here in the US!

It’s a common drink to offer someone at a party or other social gathering in places like Fiji and Tonga. Who wants an exotic drink from Fiji?! In certain cases, it can also be used as a natural remedy in place of traditional medicine. 

How does it work?

The kavapyrones in kava act like alcohol in terms of how your brain responds to the herb. It can make you feel calm and relaxed much like consuming a few alcoholic beverages does. Similar to alcohol, it can also reduce your inhibitions making most people more social and less self-conscious.

Here’s the kicker. Unlike alcohol, kava, when taken in moderation, won’t cause a hangover! You’ll get all the benefits both health-wise and socially without the nuisance of a hangover, upset stomach, and a bad attitude the next day.

Benefits of Kava

While alcohol is nearly devoid of any health benefits, kava has some seriously great health effects to offer! 

Helps with stress 

Kava has certain components, such as kavalactones and alkaloids, that relax the nerves and have other mildly numbing qualities. When consumed, kava can relax your muscles and make you feel less stressed. This helps many people manage their stress and unwind.

Wait. What? Less stress. More chill. And less raging hormonal lunatic invading your mind?! You bet. (Maybe you should order by the case and save your loved ones.)

Helps people sleep 

By relaxing the muscles and calming the mind, kava can help people sleep better! There are so many people who struggle with sleeplessness and this all-natural remedy works in a gentle and effective way to lull you to sleep. 


Are There Any Negative Side Effects of Kava?

Are There Any Negative Side Effects of Kava? Scientist learning more about Kava and it's effects.

Overusing any type of supplement, food, or beverage can cause some unintended side effects. Studies have consistently shown that using kava in moderation won’t produce any serious side effects and it is a safe and natural supplement for most people.

Consuming too much kava can cause a few minor problems. The most common problems that pop up in a few people if they’ve taken too much kava are headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and dry skin.

So, remember. Before you start any supplement, kava-based or otherwise, you should consult with your doctor. They’ll be able to give you the best advice about how it may interact with your other medication or overall health.

Common Questions You May Have About Kava

Will I feel exactly the same as when I drink alcohol?

This depends on the person, but probably not. Kava keeps your mind sharp and clear, unlike alcohol. So, you will still be able to think clearly and be aware of others around you. 

Just think. No drunk texts to regret later!

Kava has been seen to lower social inhibitions so you may become more social and willing to try new things. That’s right. Your karaoke debut is right around the corner. Line dancing? Oh, yeah. It’s all you.

Will I Get Hungover?

Kava is not shown to cause any hangover symptoms. We repeat. No hangover. This means you can consume kava and not have to worry about headaches or discomfort. 

Can I Drive After Drinking Kava?

There have not been many studies done on this but we don't recommend it. Since there is no alcohol in kava, you will not have an alcohol level if you were to blow into a breathalyzer. 


One study done in New Zealand at the University of Waikato did not find any differences in driving ability from someone who drank a high volume of kava over six hours. 

However, the doctor that conducted this study, Dr. Apo Aporoso said more studies need to be done to know for sure. So, the results are a bit inconclusive.

If you feel inebriated or different from your usual self in any way, it is best not to get behind the wheel or operate any heavy machinery. Consider having a friend drive or using a rideshare service until you know for sure how kava affects you. 

Bottom line: Don’t over-kava and get behind the wheel. Just to be safe!

What is the Legal Age to Buy Kava?

In the United States, kava does not have a regulated age as alcohol does. Technically, anyone can buy kava! Most kava bars are restricted to those who are eighteen or older, and it’s recommended that kava only be ingested by people who are over the age of eighteen since some of the effects are not well-known. 

Other countries, like Australia, have actual laws that state people under the age of eighteen cannot buy or use kava. 

What is alcohol?

Most people probably know the answer to this. Alcohol is a specific compound called ethanol or ethyl alcohol and is, of course, an ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. 

The ABV is the alcohol by volume percentage. It shows you how much ethanol is present in a specific volume of the beverage you are consuming. 

How Does Alcohol Work?

How Does Alcohol Work? Many liquor bottles all full with different brands of alcohol.

Alcohol is mainly absorbed into the blood through the small intestine. While some effects of alcohol can be felt as soon as five minutes after drinking, most effects are felt thirty to ninety minutes after a drink. 

Since the liver can only break down a certain measure of alcohol per hour, drinking too much or drinking too fast is what causes you to feel the common effects of alcohol. 

So. Slow down if you are planning to drive!

The Pros of Alcohol 

Many people assume that alcohol does not have any health benefits at all and is just used for social fun. This is not always the case though. Keep in mind that health benefits from alcohol are only there when alcohol is consumed in moderation (no more than one drink per day).

Heart Health

According to some studies, moderate drinking makes you 25%-40% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. This is partly because alcohol can raise your good cholesterol levels or HDL. 

Makes you active

Studies have shown that people who exercise more frequently also drink. Doctors aren’t sure where this link comes from, but it may be because people who exercise generally feel healthier and are more likely to go and drink at social gatherings. 

Can prevent kidney stones

People who regularly drink in moderation are less likely to get kidney stones. Up to 41% for beer drinkers and 33% for wine drinkers. What?! That is fantastic news.

This is because alcohol makes you urinate often and helps to clear out the kidneys. However, keep in mind that drinking too much can also make you hit the loo a bit too much and cause dehydration.  

Being dehydrated can cause kidney stones. So, when drinking alcohol, you also need to drink plenty of water to flush through your kidneys.

Makes you social 

Alcohol can take away self-consciousness and make you feel more comfortable at large social gatherings. It can also create more natural conversation and allow you to open up more. 

Keep in mind that drinking too much can cause you to share too much information and take away necessary social filters when talking to new people. 

You know who you are … you loose-lipped, crazy talkers. 

Brain benefits

Having a few drinks a week shows you may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Wine is also considered to be in the top ten brain foods. (Some of you just went to grab a wine bottle. We know. Remember… moderation. Say it out loud. Moderation.)

Can balance blood sugar 

A drink or two can help your body adjust its blood sugar levels naturally. Too many drinks though can cause your blood sugar to spike quickly. This can be responsible for the development of type 2 diabetes.

In case you didn’t catch it the last several times, you must drink in moderation! 

How does alcohol affect the liver?

Alcohol is famous for its negative effects on the liver and the body as a whole. Alcohol can cause the liver to swell. This condition is called alcoholic hepatitis. It makes the liver very bloated and can lead to liver failure if the person continues to drink. 

Over-consuming alcohol can also cause fat to build up around the liver. Over time, the liver may not be able to perform well with the additional fat. 

It’s pretty clear to see that alcohol can damage the liver.  To make matters worse, some of these effects can be irreversible—especially as you age. 

Negative side effects of alcohol 

Negative side effects of alcohol. Man sitting at a bar after having drank too much alcohol.

Some negative effects of alcohol only happen while you are drinking and will go away within a few hours, or the next day. However, some effects are long-term and can affect your health as the years progress. 

Short-term effects 

If you’ve ever drunk alcohol, you are probably aware of some of the ways alcohol alters how you feel. Alcohol can severely lower your inhibitions which may lead to poor social judgment. Worse, it can also cause you to make poor decisions regarding the people spending time with you and the decision to drive when you absolutely shouldn’t. 

Alcohol can cause your body temperature to lower and your blood pressure to rise quickly if you are binge drinking. It can also lead to loss of coordination causing you to injure yourself or others. 

Alcohol can cause you to make poor decisions and have trouble concentrating, even the day after. It can also cause mood swings, violent behavior, and aggressiveness in some people. 

Some people may even pass out or begin to vomit when they drink too much. Vomiting isn’t just an uncomfortable process, the acid in it also wreaks havoc on your esophagus, your throat, and your teeth.  Vomiting is gross for you and the people near you. 


Long-term effects 

Excessive drinking can lead to liver damage, cancer, and heart disease. You may also experience chronic memory loss and a small attention span. Learning and concentrating may become difficult or nearly impossible. 

Cancer caused by excessive alcohol consumption is usually found in the throat, mouth, larynx, breasts, liver, esophagus, colon, and rectum. 

You may also experience high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, and an irregular heartbeat. 

The long-term effects are very serious and can even be terminal. 

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning can happen when someone binge drinks. This is defined as 4 drinks for women or 5 drinks for men all drank within a few hours of each other. 

Alcohol poisoning can be fatal if not treated right away. If someone around you starts developing symptoms of alcohol poisoning, emergency services need to be called immediately. Keep in mind that alcohol poisoning can happen even if a person has already passed out. 

When someone passes out from alcohol poisoning, they can’t regulate how their body reacts. Friends and family members should help monitor anyone who may have passed out from alcohol by watching for symptoms that can include seizures, unconsciousness, pale skin, blue skin, hypothermia, slowed heartbeat, confusion, nausea, and vomiting. 

Is Alcohol Addictive?

Alcohol can be addictive if over-consumed. It releases endorphins that make people feel good and more relaxed. The brain can become addicted to these feelings and may cause people to drink more than they should. 

Alcohol also makes people feel less stressed and more relaxed. People who suffer from depression and anxiety may be more likely to drink. 

People Who Should Not Consume Alcohol 

Most of the same groups of people who should not consume kava should also not consume alcohol. This includes women who are pregnant and breastfeeding. Alcohol can also cause some negative effects on fertility, so some women choose to stay away from alcohol when they are trying to conceive. 

Alcohol should not be mixed with sedatives, painkillers, and certain antibiotics. 

Unlike kava, alcohol can cause negative side effects for people who have sleeping problems. While you may sleep, the quality of the sleep will be very poor. It will also cause you to have to use the bathroom several times during the night. 

Alcohol cannot be drunk with certain medications. Never consume alcohol if you are on sedatives or other medication that causes drowsiness.  So you should always ask your doctor before consuming alcohol. 

What About Hangovers?


What About Hangovers? Man looking at himself in the mirror after drinking too much alcohol.

While hangovers are unavoidable after a night of binge drinking, there are some precautions you can take. 

The first, of course, is to not overindulge. If you plan to drink excessively, drink plenty of water before and during drinking. Over-the-counter painkillers can help with headaches.

Hangovers are your body’s normal response and do not usually require medical attention. If you still feel bad several days later or are excessively vomiting, you may want to seek medical attention. 

Despite what people may tell you, drinking the next day does not cure a hangover. And who told you that? Was it a very smart friend? Think about that for a minute. The truth is, it will make the symptoms seem like they are diminishing but they will appear later and feel much worse.

Can I Drink Alcohol Every Day?

Technically, yes you can. Alcohol in small amounts at no more than one drink per day can offer health benefits.

However, some people are not sure the size of one drink and end up over-drinking. Usually, women only benefit from one drink per day which is equivalent to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Can I Drive After Drinking Alcohol?

Is this even a question anymore? Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the answer.

Unlike kava, the effects of alcohol on driving are well-known and can be pretty dangerous. Driving even after one drink is not recommended. Keep in mind that although you may feel fine, you could still be over the legal limit to drive. 

This means if you happen to get pulled over, you could face arrest or hefty fines, depending on where you live. Since alcohol often results in poor decision-making, it can make you think you are okay to drive when you are not. 

If you plan on drinking, have a friend drive or use rideshare. This way your car is not at the party or restaurant and you will not have the option of driving. Make a smart decision before you can’t think straight. 

How Much Can I Drink Before I Feel Anything?

This depends on your tolerance, your age, your sex, and how much you drink. Drinking quicker will make you start to feel symptoms sooner. 

Most people know how much they can drink before getting too drunk based on experience. However, this can always change and depends on what you are drinking and if you have eaten. 

So, Should I Drink Kava or Alcohol?

Both kava and alcohol offer benefits when taken in moderation! Finding the drink you like is one of the joys of exploring the world, whether it’s a whiskey sour out with friends or a glass of Ü Relax at home. You may find that you enjoy the effects of kava products more than alcohol.

Alcohol has plenty of downsides when over consumed and only a few benefits when taken in moderation. Kava is an all-natural supplement that gives you plenty of benefits without the side effects seen with alcohol! Consuming kava in moderation, like the recommended two servings of Ü Relax per day, gives your body the relaxation it needs without weighing you down with a hangover later.

Kava for the win!

Why Don’t More People Drink Kava?

Kava is still not widely available or even well known outside of the larger cities around the world. Kava bars are usually only found in large cities, whereas bars that sell alcohol are found everywhere. 

Drinking alcohol is also socially acceptable and everyone does it. Some people are still wary of kava and are nervous to try it. But, hey. Don't knock it till you try it!

Unless you are from the Pacific Islands, alcohol is probably the beverage of choice where you live. Kava bars have seen a large increase in places like New York City and San Diego where it is becoming more and more common to meet up with friends for a glass of kava rather than just going out for a drink at the end of the day. 

As more studies are completed and the benefits are shown, the likelihood of products like Ü Relax becoming more readily available increases exponentially!

Kava is Usually More Expensive Than Alcohol 

Kava is Usually More Expensive Than Alcohol. Large spoon full of Kava that is less expensive than alcohol.

Since kava is not as widely available, the price can be steep—especially if you are buying it in a herbal supplement form.

While price won’t be your only deciding factor as you wade through the different benefits of kava and alcohol, going with a pricier option usually denotes a higher quality product.

Despite the Negative Side Effects, Why is Alcohol Popular? 

Alcohol has been a part of most societies for a long time, which means most people trust it. They know the negative side effects but enjoy the feeling so much that they continue to drink it. 

Alcohol is also familiar to your friends and family, so they will be able to tell when someone has had too much to drink or when someone is getting sick. For these reasons, most people feel comfortable drinking alcohol despite the negative effects. 

Most doctors are also experienced with alcohol and medications, so they can tell you clearly what you can and cannot mix with alcohol. They are still studying kava though, so they may not be able to give you clear advice. 

Even though kava does not have as many negative side effects, people aren’t sure what to expect when they drink it. For example, you know that the headache after binge drinking is normal, and don’t even get worried about it.

Experienced kava drinkers know what’s normal for them and how much they can consume without serious side effects, much like experienced alcohol drinkers. It’s just about trying it, seeing how you feel, and what you are comfortable with. 

The Verdict...

Society has long been enamored with alcohol as a way to cut loose and be free at parties, bars, and even in your own home. Pacific Island communities have turned to kava instead, and their breakthrough product, full of health benefits and the ability to lower social inhibitions, is making its way into the mainstream community here in the US.

Kava and alcohol have many of the same effects, but when you’re looking to boost your health and enjoy a hangover-free way to interact more at parties, turning to kava is a great option. If you’re interested in getting started with kava, Ü Relax is a great product that includes kava along with three other ingredients that will help you feel great.

Trying something new can be scary, but drinking kava is a great way to feel similar effects as alcohol without the hangover at the end. So why not get out and try something new with Ü Relax and kava?


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