Ava pepper, tonga, awa, kava pepper… Do any of these names ring a bell? These are all alternative names for the popular plant Piper methysticum, most commonly known by its extract kava. Kava is a leafy plant most often found growing in the Pacific islands of Hawaii, Fiji, and more. The place in which kava grows will determine the effect it’s going to have, just like kratom! And that’s only one of many similarities between these two plants.
To be clear, while kava and kratom share similarities, they are not from the same plant.
Kava comes from Piper methysicum, as mentioned above, while kratom comes from Mitragyna speciosa. Just one important thing to note when it comes to kava vs kratom!
Let’s see what they have in common, what they don’t, and the effects they might have on our bodies.
What is Kava Kava?
Apart from the first general facts mentioned above, it’s important to know that kava is a versatile plant with rich history and unique characteristics. It contains kavapyrones which are the main, active ingredients. There are many kinds of kavapyrones in the kava plant. What research shows, however, is that only 6 of these are useful in achieving a desired effect. They all work in harmony to create kava’s chemotype which is important for categorizing the strains.
Just like kratom, kava is also sold in the form of a pill or powder, and it can also be brewed to drink as a tea! Of course, the flavor of kava is different than kratom.
Three Strains of Kava
Depending on the organization and structure of the kavapyrones (the chemotype), kava is divided into three categories: heady, heavy, and balanced.
Heady kava will likely induce an increase in dopamine levels, creating feelings of happiness, increased sociability, and talkativeness. This is essentially very similar to the effects of green vein kratom and to some extent even white vein kratom.
One letter makes a huge difference in this strain! The name already suggests the reaction to this strain – heavy kava acts much like red vein kratom, causing effects of complete relaxation and a pleasant “heaviness” of the limbs. It’s best to take heavy kava at night to induce sleep, although you may benefit more from taking it during the day.
Balanced kava strains are right in the middle – the effects they have are exactly in between, so taking them won’t make you feel too sleepy or too hyped-up (think yellow vein kratom). Most people that use kava enjoy this exact strain because it’s not as strong as the other ones.
Kava vs Kratom – The Differences
The first difference that must be noted is that while kratom comes from the leaves of the plant, kava comes from the root. Although their effects are very similar, kratom is more dominant and therefore often stronger. This is because kratom contains alkaloids in its structure, and kava contains kavapyrones.
While both kava and kratom are used to relieve mild discomfort, stress, and anxiety, kratom is much more popular for relief from discomfort, according to some long-term users. Kava, on the other hand, might not affect the body this way. This is the starting point from which we might begin to understand what these plants do and where their differences lie.
Also, kava binds to the GABA receptors (just like chamomile does!), while kratom works with other more complex receptors in the central nervous system.
Another minor difference between these two plants is that kratom shouldn’t be taken on an empty stomach due to the nausea it may cause, and kava is always taken on an empty stomach to make its effects stronger.
Bottom Line of Kava vs Kratom
Although we can see that kava and kratom have a lot of things in common, there are many significant differences! These points should hopefully make this topic much clearer so you can determine which product is best for you.
Speak to a medical professional before deciding on any of these plants. Although they are natural supplements, we cannot make any medical recommendations about them.