||The active components of kava (the kavalactones) and alcohol both have their primary effects on the same receptor in the brain, the GABA receptor. Taking Kava with an alcohol will potentiate both (increase the effects). However, with this combination also comes an increased risk of side effects and the increased inebriation would likely be the result of just the additive effects of a mild alcohol intoxication and not a real 'potentiation' of the kava.|
Its important to know that combining alcohol and kava could increase the load on the liver and those with liver health issues should read about the liver health issues.
Kava and alcohol are used in combination in the Pacific Islands, where kava is used traditionally. Kava is often taken with beer and less commonly hard alcohol. Some users report that the combination is pleasant and fun, here's a quote from a friend who lives in Hawaii:
I think its a good combo. You just have to be carefull not to over do it. too much kava by itself can make you sick. I have been with Fijian guys drinking beer with kava. My friend who travels in Tonga says tells me that if you are drinking kava with those big guys its
all ok. However, if someone shows up with a bottle of rum, you better go for a pee and keep on going. The rum gets them literally "punch" drunk and beating on each other. Of course, by morning they are all buddies again! Pacific Islanders! What a crazy crew! -- a reliable kava supplier
While Kava itself is relatively safe, taking it with alcohol could exacerbate the side effects and toxicity of the alcohol, so those with sensitivities to alcohol or liver problems should avoid this combo. You may get more sedated, but you also have an increased chance of blackout, respiratory depression, slowed heart rate, and possibly death. Certainly, this is more of a danger at extreme levels of alcohol intoxication with the Kava, but one should be careful when working with a new combination.
As for Gottlieb's claim that dissolving kava in alcohol for ingestion is the "more potent method because alcohol swiftly carries resins into the system", I'd guess that the majority of the synergy comes from the cumulative effects at the receptor, not on the relative absortion of the kavalactones. Gottlieb may be right that you get the effects a little faster since alcohol is absorbed rapidly through the stomach lining, but it would be difficult to separate the subjective effects of each to determine whether the kava was truly being sped up as well. We'll continue to look into this.