What Is Kava And Could It Be Your Cure To Social Anxiety?

What Is Kava And Could It Be Your Cure To Social Anxiety?

I’m sure if I asked you to recall your most memorable night out on the town, it’d probably include three key things: friends, spontaneous fun, and lots of drinks.

But when things like adulthood, responsibilities, and the plaguing thought of recovering from a Sunday morning hangover come into play, it makes you wonder if there’s a better way to achieve a buzz without the mental burnout.

As new drink alternatives like mocktails and non-alcoholic spirits grow in popularity, there’s a powerful powder that’s making its rounds into our tipsy refreshments, minus the recovery time.

Kava, also known as kava kava, is a plant native to the South Pacific islands that has been enjoyed by the culture for over 3000 years. It’s traditionally cultivated for its roots which have relaxing and socializing effects and can be consumed as an alternative to alcohol. There are many types of kava and ways to consume it, however, traditional kava root is taken through a process of crushing, grounding, and powdering that can then be strained in water and brewed.

The tincture has gained traction across TikTok due in part to its calming, uplifting, and relaxing effects that leave first-time sippers feeling a bit loopy. That’s why Hannah Wilen, co-founder of LA-based kava bar Kavahana, is using her platform to share insight on how to use kava the right way, so you can truly experience all the good it can offer you.


A lot of people tell me that when they try kava drops/tinctures as their intro to kava, they don’t feel anything. Here’s why, and also what to try instead to REALLY feel the effects of kava :) #kava #kavadrops #sobercurious #mocktail #kavahana

“Kava is a great alternative to alcohol because it can create a sense of overall happiness without the negative effects of alcohol like hangovers, headaches, aggressiveness, and messed up sleep,” she tells xoNecole. “It’s also not addictive.”

While the effects of kava may vary from person to person, most kava drinkers say that the sensation they get from kava makes them feel “a wave of relaxation and much more social and confident in social settings,” Hannah says. It can even give a slight “tingle” on the tongue. While no two kavas are the same, the greatest difference is in the makeup of the kava that you drink — from its traditional powder form to instant kava and even its most accessible form, tincture drops.

“Some kava makes you feel much more uplifted and energized, while others put you to sleep,” she explains. “Interestingly, kava has a reverse tolerance, meaning that seasoned kava drinkers feel more of the effects of kava with less of it, and people who are just starting to try kava have to have a lot of it just to feel anything.”

Some people may find themselves drawn to kava as an aid to their social anxiety. With about 15 million U.S. adults having social anxiety disorder in any given year, many can run to alcohol to feel more at ease and more open during social interactions. With kava in the mix, you can get the mood boost and sense of calm that can help you show up as your most authentic self without the side effects of drinking.


There isn’t anything I can compare the feeling to kava to - nothing else gives me the same feeling of happiness and talkativeness as kava does! #kava #sobercurious #alcoholfree #anxietytips #selfcare #kavahana

Such is the case for Hannah. “Personally, kava has helped a lot with my anxiety and has made it much easier to talk to people,” she says. “And I couldn’t have done it without kava itself — it’s been my teacher in making me more outgoing and telling me to just be myself in social situations.”

Before taking the plunge and trying kava for yourself, Hanah emphasizes that not all kava is not the same, and with each variety, different kava cultivars produce different effects. “Some are good for the nighttime and sleep, while others are good for frolicking in the meadow during a sunny day,” she says. Always buy from a trusted supplier and know where your kava is coming from."

Once you have, get creative and enjoy your kava sip, by sip by adding your favorite milk and flavoring. “In other words… get traditional kava powder, knead it, strain it, mix with coconut milk, — you will not regret it.”

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Featured image by Brandon Colbert Photography/Getty Images

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