Donate BTC or other Cryptocurrency
Your donation supports practical, accurate info about psychoactive
plants & drugs. We accept 9 cryptocurrencies. Contribute a bit today!
Allergic Reaction
Citation:   omega. "Allergic Reaction: An Experience with Kava (exp106515)". Mar 29, 2017.

2.5 oz oral Kava (tea)
I'm a fairly anxious person and had heard about Kava's properties as a natural calmative. I don't take any prescription drugs for anxiety, but I'm always in search of natural remedies (I already use exercise, meditation, and other natural means of anxiety management). I did a fair amount of research before trying Kava out and found universally neutral-to-positive experience reports; it seemed very much in the 'can't hurt; might help' camp. As far as other substance interactions, I'm an occasional drinker and pot smoker, though I was always very conscientious about not mixing Kava with booze as I'd heard there could be unpleasant interactions. Kava and pot, on the other hand, complemented each other nicely.

I bought 16 oz of Kava powdered root and started using it in very small doses. For preparation/extraction, I would add 2.5-3 oz of powder to a cup of warm water, a can of coconut milk, and enough honey and other spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove) to make it palatable, then blend for 5 minutes or so and strain/squeeze through a nylon stocking. The resulting beverage was the approximate consistency of milk, but a dirty color. Most mornings, I would splash about half a cup of kava-infused coconut milk into my usual cup of tea. I would sometimes (maybe twice a week) wind down in the evening with the same amount in another cup of tea.

Over the next three weeks or so, I noticed a distinct improvement in my mood. I'm naturally prone to catastrophic thinking and an overwhelming urge to control everything; without slowing down my mental processes at all, kava gave me a reassuring sort of 'everything's going to be fine' boost that I found very uplifting as I started my day. The word I used most often was 'chipper,' like if you just happen to wake up well-rested, in a good mood, and feeling confident that you can handle whatever your day throws at you. I definitely also noticed a cumulative effect (the 'reverse tolerance' that I read about as I researched it); it seems like the substance built up to critical mass in my system before it started working.

Unfortunately, something else happened once I tipped that critical mass balance. At the end of an otherwise ordinary day, about 3-4 weeks into my normal kava regimen, I noticed a few itchy red bumps on my face, neck, and chest. Within a couple of days, it had bloomed into a severe case of hives all over my face and abdomen. It started to spread down my arms and legs as well, but I saw my doctor and quickly got on high doses of oral steroids and antihistamines, which stopped the rash from spreading further. Still, I was miserable for a couple of weeks, and completely unable to leave the house for one. My face also swelled dramatically, although I fortunately never experienced any difficulty breathing or swallowing.

I hadn't run across any reports of a rash in the research I'd done prior to using Kava, but once I started searching 'Kava and hives,' the reports came out. It doesn't seem to be a common reaction, but it does happen to a significant minority. There's a more long-term skin condition called Kava Dermopathy that's associated with prolonged use, but given the way this came on and faded, I'm pretty sure it was just a straight allergy. I'm not allergic to anything else (the usual suspects - peanuts, shellfish, etc. don't do a thing to me) and don't have a sensitive system in general, but I guess everyone has their Kryptonite.

A lot of the reports I've read about allergic reactions have been from people who tried to find a way to push through it and keep using Kava; I can understand where the mental health benefits might be worth the trade-off, but I've decided to heed my body's message that this is simply not for me. The increased sense of calm and well-being was nice, but I'm still pretty much OK without it, and I don't want to risk a reaction like that ever again.

I had no idea this sort of thing happened until I started searching for it specifically, so I wanted to warn others out there. This allergy is not unheard-of, so be careful, and if you're a new Kava user, you might want to keep Benadryl on hand!

Exp Year: 2014ExpID: 106515
Gender: Female 
Age at time of experience: 35
Published: Mar 29, 2017Views: 7,962
[ View PDF (to print) ] [ View LaTeX (for geeks) ] [ Swap Dark/Light ]
Kava (30) : General (1), Alone (16)

COPYRIGHTS: All reports copyright Erowid.
TERMS OF USE: By accessing this page, you agree not to download, analyze, distill, reuse, digest, or feed into any AI-type system the report data without first contacting Erowid Center and receiving written permission.

Experience Reports are the writings and opinions of the authors who submit them. Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.

Experience Vaults Index Full List of Substances Search Submit Report User Settings About Main Psychoactive Vaults