Affiliate Disclosure
Best Kava Brands Guide

Kava Guide + Top 6 Picks (Summer 2019)

Kava is a shrub that grows in the Pacific Islands. For centuries, its roots have been ground into a powder and extracted into a bitter drink, a traditional staple among these islands. This drink is notable for its calming, relaxing, and focusing effects. Some even consider it to be a beneficial alternative to alcohol, without the addictive qualities.

In this guide, we’ve laid out the 6 best kava brands. Farther down, you can find information on safe vs. dangerous kava, the benefits of kava, and kava’s recommended dosage.

Quick Glance
Borongoru Vanuatu Kava Root - 100% Noble Kava-Kava (1/2 LB) Best Overall: Kalm with Kava – Vanuatu Kava Root Powder

“This is pure, unfiltered, unapologetic kava root powder. “
Check Price
Wakacon KAVA WAKA Powder - Fijian Noble Premium Quality Kava Root (16oz) Runner-Up: Wakacon – Noble Kava Waka Powder

“Wakacon’s kava powder was a close runner-up for the title of best kava supplement.”
Check Price
Kava Kava | 700mg Capsules | Stress Relief and Anxiety Supplement | Mental Calmness, Positive Mood | Piper Methysticum Extract | 30 Day Supply | 60 Capsules Best Capsules: VH Nutrition – Pure Kava Extract Capsules

“If you want a safe kava supplement, VH Nutrition has you covered.”
Check Price
Micronized Instant Kava Powder - Tongan Pouni Ono (4 oz) Best Micronized: Kalm with Kava – Micronized Instant Kava

“For easy, on-the-go kava, this micronized instant kava powder is a great option.”
Check Price
Premium Instant Kava Juice - Non-Micronized Pure Dehydrated Kava Juice Organic Kavain Heavy Blend - Anxiety Releasing and Euphoria Inducing Vanuatu Kava Tea' Connoisseur Blend' (Instant Tins, 25g) Best Dehydrated: DrinkRoot – Dehydrated Noble Kava Juice

“While micronized kava is simply raw kava powder with the insoluble fibers removed, this is actually a pre-steeped then dehydrated kava drink.”
Check Price
Kavafied KAVA Supreme Powder - Noble Premium Quality Kava Root (8oz) Best Brand: Kavafied – Kava Supreme Noble Root Powder

“…Kavafied also offers a super convenient kava steeping shaker called AluBall, designed to easily make authentic kava drinks.”
Check Price

Top 6 Kava Picks

Best Kava Supplement Overall

Kalm with Kava – Vanuatu Noble Kava Root Powder

Noble kava

Not extracted

Reputable brand

Kalm with Kava is debatably the best kava brand when it comes to popularity. Their pure Borongoru noble kava root powder is a great option for anyone with an interest in this Pacific Island root.

This is pure, unfiltered, unapologetic kava root powder. It’s typically brewed by steeping the powder in warm water using a fine, sealable straining bag, then discarding the used powder. The result is a pleasant, heady kava drink.

Runner-Up Best Kava

Wakacon – Noble Kava Waka Powder

Noble kava

Not extracted

Top on Amazon

Wakacon’s kava powder was a close runner-up for the title of best kava supplement. While Kalm with Kava is one of the most popular kava brands at large, Wakacon offers the most popular kava product on Amazon.

Just like Kalm’s kava powder above, this is 100% pure ground kava root powder. It’s usually brewed in warm water using a fine, sealable strainer bag to create a kava tea without the grit from the root. Cheesecloth can also work in a pinch.

Best Kava Capsules

VH Nutrition – Pure Noble Kava Extract Capsules

Noble kava

Water-extracted

30-day money-back

We’re not exaggerating when we say that VH Nutrition offers what appears to be the absolute best kava capsules available. In order to save money, most manufacturers of kava extract capsules use tudei kava and/or a solvent extraction process. As discussed below, both of these things are potentially harmful.

These are quite literally the only noble strain, water-extracted kava capsules we could find on Amazon. If you want a safe kava supplement, VH Nutrition has you covered.

Best Micronized Kava

Kalm with Kava – Micronized Instant Noble Kava Powder

Noble kava

Not extracted

Easy-mix

Not everybody wants to deal with the hassle and wait of steeping raw kava powder. The solution: Kalm with Kava offers this micronized kava powder that instantly mixes into liquid. This isn’t extracted kava, but rather raw kava powder that’s had the coarse fibers removed, with the remainder ground down even finer.

For easy, on-the-go kava, this micronized instant kava powder is a great option. Just mix into warm water and stir.

Best Dehydrated Kava Juice

DrinkRoot – Non-Micronized Dehydrated Noble Kava Juice

Noble kava

Water-extracted

Super concentrated

This dehydrated noble kava juice is another great option for anyone wanting some instant, convenient kava on the go. While micronized kava is simply raw kava powder with the insoluble fibers removed, this is actually a pre-steeped then dehydrated kava drink.

Simply put, while dehydrated kava juice is slightly more expensive to make, it delivers a more authentic kava drink than micronized kava powder, since the original material has been strained out. It’s also really concentrated, meaning you need much less of the dried product to make a drink. This is a great option for an easy, authentic kava drink.

Best Kava Brand Overall

Kavafied – Kava Supreme Noble Root Powder

Noble kava

Not extracted

AluBall brand

We had to give Kavafied a shout-out on our list of the best kava supplements. First off, they deliver a top-notch noble kava powder. It’s 100% raw, unextracted kava root ready for steeping.

However, Kavafied also offers a super convenient kava steeping shaker called AluBall, designed to easily make authentic kava drinks. Just put your raw kava powder in the steeping ball, give it a shake, then let it sit. Once it’s done, you can pour your freshly-brewed kava into the coconut-shell-inspired lid for a feel-good treat.

Kavafied AluBall Kava Maker

Feed your kava cravings with this easy, on-the-go, kava-steeping shaker.

Kavafied AluBall Pro Kava Maker Kavafied AluBall Pro Kava Maker Kavafied AluBall Pro Kava Maker (Lanikai Blue) Kavafied AluBall Pro Kava Maker ('Awa Green) Kavafied AluBall Pro Kava Maker
Check Price

What Is Kava?

As previously mentioned, kava is a Pacific Island shrub that is commonly extracted into a tea. Research has shown that kava possesses calming and anxiety-reducing effects, and may provide other health benefits. As such, it’s commonly consumed not just as a tea, but also as a health supplement.

Caution: Kava Quality

How we pick the best kava brands:

The effects, quality, and risks of kava depend heavily on the strain and preparation of the plant. We’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that every kava supplement on this list comes from only the best kava brands. Here’s a quick run down of our requirements.

Strains: Noble Kava vs. Tudei Kava

First off, our best kava brands list only includes noble kava strains.

There are two primary types of kava plant: noble kava and tudei kava. Noble kava is generally understood to be the best kava strain. Here’s why:

Compared to tudei kava, noble kava plants contain preferable concentrations of certain naturally-occurring compounds. This is largely why noble kava is the traditionally preferred variety and the most widely consumed. Most notably, noble kava possesses higher levels of beneficial kavalactones.

Kavalactones are a class of chemical compounds naturally found in kava plants. They’re responsible for most of the desirable effects of kava, such as its ability to reduce anxiety symptoms.1Kava: A Comprehensive Review of Efficacy, Safety, and Psychopharmacology However, certain kavalactones have been shown to be harmful to the liver.2Kava and Kava Hepatotoxicity: Requirements for Novel Experimental, Ethnobotanical and Clinical Studies Based on a Review of the Evidence These harmful types of kavalactones can be found in higher concentrations in tudei kava.

Furthermore, tudei kava contains high levels of flavokavains, which have been shown to be harmful to liver and bladder health.3Flavokawain A, a Novel Chalcone from Kava Extract, Induces Apoptosis in Bladder Cancer Cells by Involvement of Bax Protein-Dependent and Mitochondria-Dependent Apoptotic Pathway and Suppresses Tumor Growth in Mice4Flavokawain B, the hepatotoxic constituent from kava root, induces GSH-sensitive oxidative stress through modulation of IKK/NF-kappaB and MAPK signaling pathways. Noble kava does contain flavokavains, but in trace amounts that are low enough to avoid toxicity.5German Kava Ban Lifted by Court: The Alleged Hepatotoxicity of Kava (Piper methysticum) as a Case of Ill-Defined Herbal Drug Identity, Lacking Quality Control, and Misguided Regulatory Politics.

Reports of unpleasant kava side effects, such as nausea and kava hangover, can typically be traced back to tudei kava. In fact, tudei kava gets its name from the two-day “hangover” associated with the plant’s extract.

That being said, due to its risks and inferior quality, growing tudei kava is actually illegal in some South Pacific nations.

So, if tudei kava is so much worse than noble kava, why does anyone grow it?

Simply put, tudei kava is quicker and easier to grow than noble kava. While noble kava plants take 4 to 5 years to mature, tudei kava can often be harvested in just 1 year. Since farmers can produce this undesirable strain much more easily, regulatory bodies in Pacific Island nations have to monitor and test kava material for exportation.

Extraction: Water vs. Solvents

Noble vs. tudei kava isn’t the only consideration when it comes to kava quality. Most notably, chemical extraction processes have been shown to create harmful kava extracts.

Up front, our best kava brands list only includes water-extracted kava (as well as raw noble kava products).

Traditionally, kava has been prepared among Pacific Island nations by grinding the root into a paste and extracting the compounds with cold or warm water. It turns out that with regard to the quality and safety of the extraction, there really hasn’t been much room for improvement.

Some manufacturers use solvents such as ethanol or acetone to extract higher levels of kavalactones from kava roots. While solvents may be able to pull higher concentrations of kavalactones from these roots, solvent-extracted kava may be less safe than water-extracted kava.

Some research has shown that compared to water, solvents can extract more harmful compounds from kava.6Fulminantes Leberversagen nach Einnahme des pflanzlichen Antidepressivums Kava-Kava Notably, solvent extraction pulls out many more flavokavains, the compounds associated with liver and bladder damage.

As it stands, research has not found water-extracted noble kava to be toxic. Conversely, research has found solvent-extracted kava to be potentially toxic.7Kava lactones and the kava-kava controversy For these reasons, solvent-extracted kava is actually illegal in some countries, including New Zealand and Australia.

All that being said, every single kava product featured in this guide has been researched to ensure quality. Each one is derived only from noble kava strains. Furthermore, every product is either raw, unextracted kava powder or water-extracted kava. According to the manufacturers, no chemical extraction processes are used on any of these featured kava products.

Kava Tea, Kava Coffee
Many people enjoy the calming effects of kava in tea or coffee.

Kava Benefits

Kava has been shown to be helpful for promoting calmness, cheerfulness, and focus. Take a look at the research-backed benefits of kava:

  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety

Research has shown that kava can be effective in reducing stress and anxiety.8The Kava Anxiety Depression Spectrum Study (KADSS): a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial using an aqueous extract of Piper methysticum.9Efficacy of kava-kava in the treatment of non-psychotic anxiety, following pretreatment with benzodiazepines.10Treatment of anxiety, tension and restlessness states with Kava special extract WS 1490 in general practice: a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind multicenter trial.

Since kava has a quickly noticeable calming effect, it’s easy to assume that its anxiety-reducing effects are only short-term. However, research has shown that regular supplementation of kava may be effective in reducing anxiety in the long-term.

One study found that beginning at 8 weeks of supplementation, subjects taking kava scored significantly less on anxiety scales than a control group.11Kava-kava extract WS 1490 versus placebo in anxiety disorders–a randomized placebo-controlled 25-week outpatient trial. These anxiety-reducing effects were noted through the rest of the 25-week trial. Furthermore, no adverse side effects were noted.

Another study noted a reduction in anxiety even sooner than 8 weeks.12Kava treatment in patients with anxiety. In a trial lasting only 4 weeks, 150 milligrams of kava extract daily was shown to reduce measurements of anxiety.

Kava has also been shown to reduce stress- and anxiety-induced sleep disruption.13Clinical efficacy of kava extract WS 1490 in sleep disturbances associated with anxiety disorders. Results of a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Throughout a 4-week trial, subjects taking 200 milligrams of kava daily demonstrated measurably improved sleep quality, as discussed further down.

  • Reduced Depression

Early research indicates that kava may be effective in reducing symptoms of depression.

Some of the above-cited research found a correlation between kava supplementation and reduced depression symptoms.14Kava-kava extract WS 1490 versus placebo in anxiety disorders–a randomized placebo-controlled 25-week outpatient trial.15The Kava Anxiety Depression Spectrum Study (KADSS): a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial using an aqueous extract of Piper methysticum. However, both of these studies specifically measure anxiety-related depression. As such, the findings may not be applicable to depression at large.

Further research is needed before researchers can confidently say whether kava has a significant effect on depression in general, and not just anxiety-related depression.

  • Sedation and Sleep Quality

Kava has been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce stress-related sleep disruptions.

The effects of kava on sleep quality are usually studied in anxiety- and stress-prone individuals. Kava has been shown to improve sleep quality in such cases.16Clinical efficacy of kava extract WS 1490 in sleep disturbances associated with anxiety disorders. Results of a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Studies have found a reduction in stress-induced insomnia and sleep disruptions with as little as 120 milligrams of kava daily.17Kava and Valerian in the treatment of stress‐induced insomnia

Kava’s sleep benefits have also been observed in healthy subjects.18Re: Kava Extract Improves Sleep Quality in Healthy People Researchers found that 300 milligrams of kava extract significantly increased deep sleep quality. In addition, researchers found that kava increased the duration of deep sleep and reduced the time it took to fall asleep.

  • Improved Mood

Research has shown the kava can improve and stabilize mood.19Kava pyrones exert effects on neuronal transmission and transmembraneous cation currents similar to established mood stabilizers – a review

One study examined the effects of kava on the mood and cognition of healthy volunteers.20Enhanced cognitive performance and cheerful mood by standardized extracts of Piper methysticum (Kava-kava). The trial found that a 300-milligram dose of kava increased cheerfulness in all subjects. Interestingly, subjects who scored a higher baseline measurement for cheerfulness demonstrated the greatest increase in mood following kava use.

In depressed, stressed, and anxious individuals, kava has can lead to a significant improvement in mood, as discussed above.21Kava-kava extract WS 1490 versus placebo in anxiety disorders–a randomized placebo-controlled 25-week outpatient trial.22The Kava Anxiety Depression Spectrum Study (KADSS): a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial using an aqueous extract of Piper methysticum. This is largely related to the extract’s anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects.

  • Improved Cognition

Research has shown that kava may be an effective nootropic, as it has been found to possess some cognitive-enhancing traits.

One of the above-cited studies on kava’s impact on cheerfulness also examined its effects on cognitive performance in healthy subjects.23Enhanced cognitive performance and cheerful mood by standardized extracts of Piper methysticum (Kava-kava). The study found that with 300-milligram doses, kava supplementation was associated with increased visual attention and short-term memory tasks.

The same study also found that kava seems to improve reaction time. In a visual recognition test, subjects were able to more quickly react to recognized items.

While the current findings on the nootropic effects of kava are promising, more research is needed. It may be that the observed cognitive improvements are partially due to the reduction in anxiety associated with kava use.

Happy Kava Drinkers
Kava has been shown to improve mood and cognition while decreasing stress and anxiety.

Kava Dosage

There is currently no officially recommended kava dosage.

As a supplement, most research performed on kava has used a dosage of 120 to 300 milligrams daily. Kava dosages in that range have been shown to potentially reduce anxiety and depression, improve mood and sleep quality, and enhance cognition, as discussed above.

As a drink, kava can be brewed similarly to tea. Most manufactures recommend putting 2 to 4 tablespoons of raw kava powder into a fine, sealable strainer bag and letting it steep in warm water for at least 5 minutes, similar to its traditional preparation. Kavafied’s AluBall steeper shaker also works great for this.

Some manufacturers recommend blending 2 to 4 tablespoons of raw kava powder directly into warm water. While this might be a little easier to prepare, the end product does turn out a little gritty. This is also not the traditional way to prepare kava.

For kava extracts, micronized kava, and dehydrated kava juice, the dosages and preparations can vary significantly. Refer to the instructions on the packaging for detailed information.

Kava Side Effects

As previously mentioned, research thus far has not found any significant side effects associated with noble kava supplementation within reasonable ranges. Specifically, studies using dosages of 120 to 300 milligrams daily have noted minimal to no side effects.

However, as discussed above, tudei kava supplementation (as opposed to noble kava) is associated with several unpleasant side effects. These include nausea, vomiting, and headache associated with “kava hangover.” Long-term use of tudei kava has also been linked to liver damage, as discussed above.

As such, all of the kava products featured in this guide are noble kava, not tudei kava.


Summary

Research has shown that kava may be beneficial to emotional and cognitive health. Studies have found links between kava and reduced anxiety and depression, improved mood and sleep patterns, and boosted cognition. It’s used daily by many people as a nootropic supplement and as a means to support a healthy headspace.

Quick Glance
Borongoru Vanuatu Kava Root - 100% Noble Kava-Kava (1/2 LB) Best Overall: Kalm with Kava – Vanuatu Kava Root Powder

“This is pure, unfiltered, unapologetic kava root powder. “
Check Price
Wakacon KAVA WAKA Powder - Fijian Noble Premium Quality Kava Root (16oz) Runner-Up: Wakacon – Noble Kava Waka Powder

“Wakacon’s kava powder was a close runner-up for the title of best kava supplement.”
Check Price
Kava Kava | 700mg Capsules | Stress Relief and Anxiety Supplement | Mental Calmness, Positive Mood | Piper Methysticum Extract | 30 Day Supply | 60 Capsules Best Capsules: VH Nutrition – Pure Kava Extract Capsules

“If you want a safe kava supplement, VH Nutrition has you covered.”
Check Price
Micronized Instant Kava Powder - Tongan Pouni Ono (4 oz) Best Micronized: Kalm with Kava – Micronized Instant Kava

“For easy, on-the-go kava, this micronized instant kava powder is a great option.”
Check Price
Premium Instant Kava Juice - Non-Micronized Pure Dehydrated Kava Juice Organic Kavain Heavy Blend - Anxiety Releasing and Euphoria Inducing Vanuatu Kava Tea' Connoisseur Blend' (Instant Tins, 25g) Best Dehydrated: DrinkRoot – Dehydrated Noble Kava Juice

“While micronized kava is simply raw kava powder with the insoluble fibers removed, this is actually a pre-steeped then dehydrated kava drink.”
Check Price
Kavafied KAVA Supreme Powder - Noble Premium Quality Kava Root (8oz) Best Brand: Kavafied – Kava Supreme Noble Root Powder

“…Kavafied also offers a super convenient kava steeping shaker called AluBall, designed to easily make authentic kava drinks.”
Check Price


More for You

Best Turmeric and Curcumin Supplements
Best Turmeric and Curcumin Supplements
Turmeric is a root in the ginger family with an earthy flavor. It’s a popular cooking spice in India, and Read more.
Cable Crossover Machines Buyers Guide
Cable Crossover Machines: 2019 Buyers Guide
Looking to flesh out your home gym? Cable crossover machines are some of the most useful pieces of fitness equipment, Read more.
Portable Infrared Saunas Guide
The BEST Portable Infrared Saunas (Buyers Guide & Health Benefits)
Sitting in sweltering heat may seem like torture, but sauna use has been a relaxing tradition for centuries. From Native Read more.
Adjustable Kettlebells
11 BEST Adjustable Kettlebells (2019 Buyers Guide)
Kettlebells are all the rage. They’re a super versatile piece of fitness equipment, and much cheaper than giant machines. Adjustable Read more.
Portable Steam Saunas Guide
Portable Steam Saunas: Top 5 Picks + Science-Backed Benefits
Enduring hot, sweaty temperatures in a small tent isn’t a new fad. Various cultures have carried out similar traditions since Read more.
Leg Press Machines
8 BEST Leg Press Machines (Buyers Guide)
Leg press machines are a great way to safely work out your lower body. They’re great at simulating a squat Read more.
Treadmills Under $1000
Treadmills Under $1000: 2019 Buyers Guide
Treadmills are powerful tools for improving health and fitness, but they can be spendy. To stay on budget, many home Read more.
Best Manual Treadmills Guide
Manual Treadmills: 2019 Buyers Guide
Manual treadmills are a great way to work on cardio while saving money, space, and power. And they do it Read more.
Stall Bars Guide
Stall Bars / Swedish Ladders: 2019 Guide & Reviews
Stall bars (also called wall bars, stall walls, Swedish ladders, and Swedish walls) are pieces of gymnastics equipment featured in Read more.
Soy-Free Protein Powder
Soy-Free Protein Powder Guide
Soybeans are an increasingly popular food item, particularly in the United States. As production goes up, it’s more common to Read more.
Best Kava Brands Guide
Kava Guide + Top 6 Picks (Summer 2019)
Kava is a shrub that grows in the Pacific Islands. For centuries, its roots have been ground into a powder Read more.
Best Black Seed Oil Guide
Best Black Seed Oil Brands (Summer 2019)
Black seed oil is an increasingly popular health supplement. It’s an extract used in Middle Eastern and South Asian medicine Read more.