Comparing Kratom vs. Kava: Understanding the Key Differences

Kratom vs Kava

Kratom and Kava are two natural substances that have gained popularity for their ability to produce euphoric effects. Although sometimes mistaken for each other, they come with distinctly different profiles in terms of origin, effects, and potential risks. Hailing from different corners of the world, these plants have been turned into teas and other preparations by those seeking their unique psychoactive properties.

Both substances are derived from plants and contain compounds that impact the brain, producing various psychoactive effects. In small doses, Kratom is known for its mild calming effects, but it can generate more opiate-like effects at higher dosages. On the other hand, Kava consistently delivers a calming effect irrespective of how much is consumed. The critical difference lies in their active ingredients—Kava contains kavalactones that produce sedative and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects. At the same time, Kratom is rich in the alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine, which can bind to the body’s opioid receptors and elicit both stimulant and sedative outcomes.

Understanding the nuances of Kratom vs Kava is vital for anyone considering their use, whether for medicinal, recreational, or cultural reasons. This insight is not only essential to ensure safe and responsible consumption but also to navigate the complexities surrounding their legal status, with Kava often perceived as less controversial and Kava is legal in many regions, unlike Kratom, which faces tighter regulations or outright bans.

Kratom vs. Kava: Origins, Uses, and Preparation


  • Origins and traditional uses: Kratom, scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, mainly found in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. In these cultures, Kratom has been used for centuries as a means of combating fatigue and managing pain and as a substitute for opium withdrawal. In recent years, Kratom use in the Western world has grown amidst debates about its therapeutic potential and safety.
  • Preparation methods and forms available in the market: Typically found as Kratom powder made from the dried leaves of the Kratom tree, it’s available in capsules, tablets, or as a liquid extract. The strong taste of Kratom powder sometimes leads users to mix it with sweet beverages to mask the bitterness. Using Kratom in tea is also common, either by steeping the powder or leaves directly or brewing extracts.
  • Safe consumption guidelines and responsible use: The use of Kratom should be approached cautiously due to its complex nature. Responsible consumption includes consideration of legal status—Kratom is legal in some places but not in others—and potential health risks. For safety and to reduce the risk of Kratom addiction, it is recommended to start with small doses, avoid frequent use, and be aware of any adverse effects on the body.


  • Origins and traditional uses: Deriving from the root of the kava plant, known scientifically as Piper methysticum, Kava is a staple in the cultural traditions of the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, Fiji, and Vanuatu. Kava’s primary traditional use is as a ceremonial beverage intended to relieve stress, promote sociability, and provide spiritual enhancement.
  • Preparation methods and forms available in the market: Preparing Kava typically involves grinding, pounding, or shredding the kava root, mixing it with water, and then straining it to create a drink. Various preparations, such as pre-made beverages, powders, capsules, and tinctures, are also available. Kava culture has spread globally, with Kava bars popping up in cities, offering a place to prepare Kava, socialize, and consume Kava in a traditional, community-oriented setting.
  • Safe consumption guidelines and responsible use: Although non-addictive, excessive or incorrect use of Kava can lead to health issues, including a rare condition known as ‘kava dermopathy’ and, in extreme cases, liver damage. Consequently, adhering to recommended guidelines for consuming Kava—like avoiding combination with alcohol, monitoring dosage, and being aware of personal health conditions—is crucial. It’s worth noting that while Kava is considered safe when used correctly, it’s still essential to ensure you’re abiding by local laws, as Kava is legal and widely accepted in many countries.

Both Kratom and Kava offer distinct appeals and must be understood and respected for their individual characteristics and cultural significance. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into their differences, potential for addiction, varying legal statuses, and frequently asked questions to equip readers with a comprehensive understanding of Kratom vs. Kava.

Distinct Differences Between Kratom and Kava

When comparing kratom vs kava, it is essential to understand their unique pharmacological distinction and legal differences, which determine how they are used and regulated.

Pharmacology of Kava and Kratom

The key alkaloids found in kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine, which bind to opioid receptors in the brain and can have a range of effects depending on the dosage. At lower doses, kratom can be stimulating, helping with concentration and energy. At higher doses, it shifts to having sedative properties, which can be used for pain relief or relaxation. This dual nature explains why kratom is often misunderstood, and its effects on the body are varied. It is important to note that kratom is not an opiate, although it acts on the same receptors, and people using kratom should be mindful of the potential for addiction.

In contrast, kava contains kavalactones that primarily affect the GABA system in the brain, resulting in a consistently calming and anxiolytic effect. Drinking kava does not typically stimulate or increase energy levels; instead, it creates a feeling of relaxation without impairing cognitive function. Kava can also induce a sense of euphoria and contentment, so kava bars have become popular places for community and socialization. Research on kava has indicated that these effects are less likely to lead to addiction, suggesting that kava addiction is possible but less common.

Legality of Kava and Kratom

The legality of kratom varies around the world. In the United States, for instance, it is a complex issue because kratom may be legal, illegal, or regulated differently across various states. Some states have banned kratom due to concerns over its potential for abuse and safety, and kratom is still under review by federal regulatory agencies. On the other hand, kava is legal in the U.S.. It can be found in various forms, including capsules, powders, and teas, and is often consumed in specialized kava bars where communities gather to enjoy its effects.

Despite its legality, kava has also faced scrutiny over potential risks such as liver damage when improperly used or sourced from non-noble strains. However, the risks are significantly lower when kava is used responsibly and appropriately sourced. The kava culture and kava bars have helped to promote safe use and preparation methods, including how to prepare kava responsibly.

Can Kratom and Kava Make You Addicted?

When discussing whether one can develop a dependency on these substances, it’s crucial to delve into kratom addiction vs. the non-addictive nature of kava.


Kratom can be addictive, and chronic use can lead to dependency. The use of kratom has been linked with various side effects, including constipation, dry mouth, and, in some severe cases, liver damage. Withdrawal symptoms of kratom addiction are also notable, and they can include irritability, mood swings, and physical discomfort. Research into the potential for kratom addiction and its impact on health is ongoing.

Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued several warnings regarding kratom use. They underscore that kratom is currently not approved for any medical treatment due to a lack of scientific evidence regarding its safety and effectiveness. Guidance from the FDA and other health authorities reflects the concerns about the use of kratom, and potential users are advised to exercise caution.


In contrast, kava is considered far less likely to lead to addiction. Its pharmacology does not typically induce the same kind of dependency that substances acting on the opioid receptors might. However, this does not mean that kava is devoid of risks—long-term and excessive use still raises concerns about liver health, although such cases are relatively rare and often linked to poor quality kava or misuse.

Kava addiction is possible but not as prevalent as with other substances, such as those affecting dopamine pathways more directly. Instead, kava is known for promoting a milder sense of relaxation and well-being without the significant withdrawal issues related to substances with high addiction potential.

In summary, kratom and kava do have similar effects in terms of relaxation and mood alteration. Still, they are not created equally in their risks of addiction or their legal statuses. Users interested in either kratom or kava should be well-informed of not only the possible health benefits but also the potential downsides. It is also vital to consider whereas kratom presents a more complex legal and health profile, kava is more commonly used and accepted in social settings with fewer associated risks.


Does kava get you stoned?

Kava does not typically get you “stoned” in the traditional sense associated with cannabinoids like THC. Kava’s main components, kavalactones, produce relaxation, muscle ease, and a general sense of well-being without the intoxicating effects associated with marijuana.

Why is kava hard on the liver?

There has been some research indicating that excessive consumption of kava can cause liver damage. This is likely due to the stress on the liver from processing the kavalactones. However, liver issues are pretty rare and usually related to poor-quality kava products or pre-existing liver conditions. Always consult a healthcare provider before using kava, especially if you have liver concerns.

Can Kava knock you out?

While kava is known for its sedative effects, it typically does not “knock you out” or cause you to lose consciousness. However, drinking kava in large amounts can lead to deep relaxation that could make you sleepy and potentially lead to sleep, resembling a natural sleep aid.

Is kava better than CBD for anxiety?

Whether kava is better than CBD (cannabidiol) for anxiety is subjective and can vary from person to person. Both kava and CBD are used to treat anxiety, and they work through different mechanisms. Some people may respond better to kava, while others may find CBD more effective. Both have a good safety profile, though you should consult a healthcare provider to determine what’s best for your circumstances.

Is kava worse for the liver than alcohol?

It is challenging to compare the liver effects of kava and alcohol directly, but kava is generally considered less harmful to the liver than alcohol when consumed responsibly. Alcohol is known for its potential to cause significant liver damage, especially with heavy and prolonged use. Responsible kava use seldom leads to severe liver issues, but any signs of liver trouble warrant immediate medical attention and discontinuation of kava.


The differences between kratom and kava are significant despite some similar effects they may induce, such as relaxation and a feeling of well-being. Kratom, derived from the leaves of the kratom tree, can offer both stimulant and sedative effects, which vary based on dosage. It has a history of traditional use in Southeast Asia for pain relief and as an aid for manual workers who would chew the leaves for a surge of energy. Kratom is also known for the strong taste of its powder, which is often mixed with beverages to mask the flavor. However, using kratom holds the potential for addiction and has varying legality depending on geographic location.

Conversely, kava comes from the root of the kava plant and is favored for its consistent calming and anxiolytic properties when consuming kava. It is more straightforward and primarily associated with relaxation and stress relief. Kava culture is robust in regions like the South Pacific, and increasingly, kava bars are popping up in Western countries, serving kava in traditional and modern ways. Notably, kava is legal in many places, making it a more accessible option for those seeking its soothing effects.

Ultimately, whether someone might prefer kratom vs kava depends on the individual’s needs and response to these substances, as well as legal considerations. It is crucial to remember that kratom is often associated with more significant risks and informed caution and responsibility is advised when considering its use. Kava, whereas a gentler alternative with fewer reported side effects, still requires respect and moderation in usage.

Both kratom and kava offer unique experiences and have been valued by various cultures for their particular properties. When deciding to use kava or kratom, it’s essential to conduct thorough research, understand the legal and health implications, and consider individual health conditions and potential drug interactions. As always, seeking the guidance of a healthcare professional is recommended, and responsible consumption should be a priority. With an informed and cautious approach, users can navigate the complexities of kratom and kava to make choices that best support their well-being.

Native Natures

The mission is to empower our readers with the knowledge and tools they need to take control of their health naturally. We believe that a well-informed individual is better equipped to make choices that promote overall well-being. At, we believe that the gifts of Mother Nature hold incredible potential in improving our well-being. With an ever-growing interest in natural remedies, we decided to create this platform to share our knowledge, experiences, and research about the various plant-based alternatives available to us. As passionate proponents of natural remedies, we understand the importance of finding reliable information in a world full of misinformation. was born out of the desire to provide a trustworthy source where readers can access accurate, up-to-date, and unbiased content related to CBD, Delta 9, Kratom, tinctures, and other natural solutions.

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