CBD Vs. Kava Kava: Two More Natural Remedies Compared

Alongside cannabidiol, other natural herbs are receiving a lot of attention, so we thought we’d compare CBD vs. kava today.

In our previous article, we compared CBD and kratom , another popular herb.

Within recent times, alternative medicine and natural remedies are becoming increasingly popular. More people are looking for ways to improve their overall health and well-being that doesn’t involve taking pharmaceutical drugs.

It’s no surprise that hemp-based substances such as CBD , have risen to prominence based on its unique therapeutic abilities. However, there are other herbs like kava, sometimes called kava kava, also receiving attention for similar positive effects. But can you really compare kava with CBD? If we were to pit CBD vs kava, which of the two would come out on top?

In this article we’re going to explore exactly that. We will examine how the popular CBD matches up against the lesser known underdog, kava. Through this comparison, we hope you can better determine which herbal remedies support your needs.


CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a lot more popular than Kava. It’s certainly more widely used. Cannabidiol is one of the main compounds found in the hemp plant and its primary role is to create balance within the body. CBD is non-intoxicating and helps ease symptoms of a variety of common conditions including stress, anxiety and pain .

CBD offers numerous benefits without a high, unlike kava which can cause mild mind-altering effects. Photo: CBD oil bottles posed on a wooden table with hemp buds.

CBD offers numerous benefits without a high, unlike kava which can cause mild mind-altering effects.

Quite notably, scientists are studying the potential use of CBD to treat some more serious ailments like cancer. Today, you can find CBD in just about anything. There are capsules, gummies , tinctures and if those are too boring, you can even find CBD-infused beverages and food .


Kava is an herb native to the Pacific Islands. People in places like Hawaii, Fiji and Tonga used kava for hundreds of years.

Typically, the root of the plant is used to make an extract. Kava is thought to have calming, analgesic and stress relieving properties. Traditionally, they would dry and crush the root into a powder, then mix it with water to make a drink.

Herbal supplement companies today use more sophisticated methods of extraction in order to maximize the concentration of its main ingredients, kavalactones . The final product is usually a capsule that contains anywhere from 30% to 90% concentration. There are 18 of these kavalactones found in the kava plant and they’re responsible for its potential benefits.

Unlike CBD, which is non intoxicating, these kavalactones can also induce a high and even mild hallucinations due to their psychoactive nature.


CBD is well-known for its wide range of therapeutic applications.

Cannabidiol works with our endocannabinoid system to regulate the body’s internal processes. Many people all over the world are using CBD to help with issues such as chronic pain, stress, anxiety, insomnia and inflammation . Part CBD’s appeal is the lack of psychoactive effects. Apart from the more common uses, it also has the potential to treat even more severe illnesses such as schizophrenia , cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, bone disease and more, though a lot more research is needed.

In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, a marijuana-based CBD medicine, to treat seizures related to some forms of epilepsy . This was a major triumph, as it marked the first time the FDA recognized the medical benefits of cannabis. With more research, we can expect to see more CBD based products being introduced to the mainstream in the future.

Kava is much less researched than CBD. The kavalactones found in the plant interact with the neurotransmitters in the brain to create its calming, euphoric effects. Kava is mainly used to help reduce stress and anxiety. Some suggest that it can be a natural alternative to treating anxiety disorders. More research needs to be done to really determine its effectiveness as some studies have produced mixed results. This makes it a bit more difficult to form any real conclusions.

It is also said that kava can be useful in promoting sleep, and therefore has the potential to treat sleeping disorders such as insomnia. In one 2015 study involving over a thousand participants, researchers could not really prove any noticeable difference when compared to placebo.


One reasons that CBD is becoming so popular is that it has very minimal side effects . Studies have shown that even when consumed at relatively large doses, it typically does not cause any adverse reactions that may jeopardize the user’s health. CBD is a non-addictive substance tgat doesn’t require larger doses after prolonged use. CBD is arguably safer than many pharmaceutical drugs in use. No fatal overdoses by CBD have ever been reported. Even in the rare instances where users report side effects, they are usually mild symptoms such as dry mouth, drowsiness and nausea.

While there's some evidence that kava may help with stress, insomnia, and similar issues, there's also evidence that it may cause damage to the liver in some cases. Photo: A spoonful of powdered kava root resting on a wooden table.

While there’s some evidence that kava may help with stress, insomnia, and similar issues, there’s also evidence that it may cause damage to the liver in some cases.

Kava on the other hand, can have various side effects, especially when consumed in large doses. Some of these may include: headaches, dizziness, fatigue, depression, diarrhea, skin issues and liver damage.

Perhaps the most severe of these is related to its impact on the liver. An overview from the National Institutes of Health found between 50 and 100 cases of liver injury related to kava consumption . While some kava advocates dispute these claims, there is some evidence that links kava to hepatotoxicity .

Whether or not similar adverse effects are found among Kava’s traditional consumers, this still raises concerns about the quality of the kava supplements being sold commercially. Additionally, there may also be some negative reactions when consumed with other substances like alcohol, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics and diuretics. With these potential risks and minimal research, kava needs to be consumed with caution and under the right medical supervision.


In the US, CBD is legal throughout all 50 states as long as it is derived from hemp (0.3% or less THC). The 2018 Farm Bill was a huge step forward for the cannabis industry. It rightfully removed restrictions on hemp by revoking its schedule I classification . Even though hemp is now legal on a federal level, there have been police raids on CBD stores in states like Texas, due to conflicts between state and federal laws. U.S. Consumers, in general, haven’t faced any legal penalties for possessing or purchasing CBD.

Kava is also considered legal in the US. However, it’s important to consider the 2002 advisory issued by the FDA warning of its potential liver damage. Certainly, more research needs to be done on the herb to confirm or deny those statements, but remember just because its legal doesn’t mean its safe. Another consideration: Poland banned kava, while countries like France, Canada, Germany and Switzerland have some restrictive measures in place.


Hopefully this helps to paint a clearer picture of what these herbal remedies are and how they compare to each other.

CBD is widely used and researched, with a long list of holistic benefits and limited side effects. While kava, on the other hand, does show some potential to treat stress related symptoms, its long list of side effects and lack of definitive scientific research suggest that consumers should proceed with care.

With all these things into consideration, which do you think is better?

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