Synergistic Herbal Combinations – Are Kava Blends Safe?

Posted by on Dec 14, 2012 in Ask Makaira | 3 comments

Synergistic Herbal Combinations - Are Kava Blends Safe?Aloha everyone!

Recently, I posted an article about our Kavalovetone product, which is a blend of kava and a number of other healing herbs. One of our readers left a comment expressing concern that it is blended herbal combinations, such our Kavalovetone, which are responsible for the cases of liver failure that have tarnished kava’s good name in the west for so many years now. I’d like to take a moment to address these concerns, and to discuss the safety of kava blends in general. I know I discuss safety a whole lot on my blog, but as kava becomes more and more popular, I find it is necessary to address everyone’s concerns to ensure that as many people as possible feel safe and comfortable working with this marvelous healer.

As our commenter pointed out, kava has been used for thousands of years by Pacific islanders with very few negative side effects recorded. It is only in more recent years that we have seen a very small number of cases of liver damage that have been associated with kava by the media. None of these cases, however, were related to kava that was blended with other herbs. As a matter of fact, kava is traditionally blended with many other plants and herbs to potentiate the activity of the root, similar to many other ceremonial plant medicines, including chili peppers and the leaves of other species of pepper. Kava has been blended with all sorts of other traditional plants for thousands of years!

So, why did the FDA issue an advisory about kava? Well, the most obvious reason is that kava that is not prepared properly can be very dangerous. All ancient kava-using cultures understand that the above-ground portions of the plant are toxic and should never be consumed – only the roots of the plant are safe. It can be difficult to know whether the kava you are purchasing online or in a shop is prepared in a safe fashion, especially if the kava is powdered or in pill form. Knowing whether or not it is blended with other herbs means nothing in this situation. Therefore, we recommend that you only purchase kava from companies who very clearly state that their kava is only produced using the below-ground portions of the plant.

This is not to say that kava is safe to mix with everything, or that all herbal combinations are safe. It is essential to have a basic knowledge of the herbs you are combining, as some can produce negative effects when combined. More important than that is being aware of any pharmaceutical medications you may be taking – some pharmaceuticals react in strange or unpredictable ways with herbs, so ALWAYS ask your doctor before combining a new herb with your prescription. And finally, alcohol is one of the most damaging substances to the liver available, so it is very important to be aware of potential liver toxicity in herbs you may be taking, and to avoid combining those herbs with alcohol – this can potentiate the damage caused by both substances.

At present, no definitive scientific proof has come forth confirming any detrimental effects of kava, and there’s no research at all on the effects of kava when combined with other synergistic herbs. In my opinion, given the traditional methods of blending kava with other herbs, it’s even possible that synergistic combinations of kava and other herbs may be more beneficial for the body than just kava alone!

Essentially, I am asking you to be careful and do some research when using herbal medicines (and pharmaceuticals, for that matter). The ingredients in our Kavalovetone are primarily non-reactive, but as I mentioned in my previous article, the St. John’s Wort may react with birth control pills and SSRIs. The valerian may also make you sleepy, so it’s important not to take these capsules and then drive a car, and I wouldn’t recommend drinking with these capsules either.

Before you start consuming a new substance, take a moment, do some research, and make sure that it will play well with any medications you are presently taking, as well as with any other herbs and supplements that you like to work with. We offer many pure forms of kava and kava alkaloids, so if you are concerned about the safety of using multiple herbs, you can always stick with those to keep things simple. It is our responsibility as healers and conscious beings to ensure that we care for and support our bodies with the medicines we can choose; the more we learn about our medicines, the more we will learn to heal ourselves safely and effectively. It is up to each and every one of us to know what is best for our own bodies. And, with the help of the internet and a bit of awareness, I believe you’ll find this task simple, and even enjoyable!

Aloha no,


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  1. I have noticed that has started offering powdered kava root mixed with powdered coca leaf. I am not sure if there is some synergy to this or something. I use various coca leaf beverage and food products as my main therapy for severe fibromyalgia and it is a most effective analgesic and mood brightener. On the other hand, coca leaf is practically devoid of overt stimulant effects and I usually find it strongly relaxing and antianxiety. In large doses coca tends to become overtly sedating and hypnotic. I have severe chronic fatigue and I haven’t thought of trying it with kava kava too as I am concerned that I would get drowsy and sedated. I have tried coca with kratom (the strong Maeng Da variety) and it enhances the analgesic effect if I need that. The combo seems a but more energizing than either alone. It might be interesting to work up to all three on particularly bad days. They also offer kava mixed with guarani or guayusa and other caffeine containing herbs. Kava can combine well wwith caffeine, taking the edge off the latter. I really don;t like taking coffee and kava together in larger amounts. They seem to fight each other. I alternate between feeling tense and qired up and edgy, the typical caffeine effect versus feeling cheerful and realxed, the typical coca leaf effect. They also have an odd effect on my blood pressure. Coca leaf reliably lowers my blood pressure about 10 points but caffeine raises it rather more than that. Together i find that my systolic pressure goes up but my diastolic pressure goes down. They generally seem to work at cross purposes. I just have one cup of coffee in the morning. Coca leaf simply lacks the “kick” that caffeine gives. When I start to crash from the caffeine, I start on the coca leaf tea and that prevents the crash. I keeo drinking it into the evening and it usually does not prevent me from sleeping.I will reserve kava for later in the day and reserve kratom for when extra pain relief is needed. I have noticed that kratom tends to banish fatigue and irritability and brighten the mood and create a sense of physical well being much like coca leaf does….
    Cheers, Jerry Bear

  2. Aloha Max!

    I’m so, so happy to hear your story! My nephew went through something similar with Xanax (which I wrote about here). It makes me sad that so many young people are having this challenging experience, but I’m happy to know that you’ve found a better way! 🙂 Hopefully, we will be able to carry our products on amazon sometime in the future so that you’ll be able to use your gift cards!

    All the best!

  3. Your kava truly helped save my life. I’m only 21 but I have PTSD/anxiety and was prescribed xanax for years. I had a very hard time quitting xanax, but then I ordered root powder from your website. That root powder, prepared with coconut milk allowed me to sleep and gave me relief from the perpetual panic attack that had become my life. A year later, I finally feel “normal” and now drink kava occasionally to unwind.

    I’m broke lol, but I’m hoping one day that you’ll offer your kava kava on so I can put some old gift cards I have to good use. Thanks for what you’re doing and when I get real money.. I’ll be buying more root powder from your site specially.



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