Kava-kava root is one of the world’s most effective and time-honored medicinal herbs. It relieves symptoms of anxiety as effectively as many prescription drugs, and it may cause fewer side effects. However, some people should not take kava– including those who habitually use alcohol. Even if you use alcohol only in moderation, it is best not to take kava-kava. Don’t drink within 1 week of taking the supplement, and avoid kava-kava entirely if you have a history of alcoholism.
Here are some of the effects of mixing kava with alcohol.
1. They will have stronger effects.
Kava and alcohol both depress the central nervous system, leading to apathy, calmness, contentment and reduced anxiety. Although these are often the goals associated with either product, the effects can be excessive– and easily abused– when the two products are combined. Together, kava compounds and alcohol could create a powerful recreational drug.
2. Your side effects will be worse.
Kava-kava and alcohol will worsen each other’s side effects. You’ll be more prone to the discomforts associated with intoxication, including dizziness, fatigue, lethargy, stomach problems, nausea and headaches. Be prepared for the Hangover from Hell if you mix kava and alcohol.
3. You can’t drive. Period.
You should use caution when driving during the first several times you use kava. Although its effects are not nearly as strong as alcohol, it can still slightly slow your reflexes and make you less alert. When combined with alcohol, kava can spell disaster. It significantly impairs your reflexes, attention apan and sensations of drowsiness. If you’re taking kava, don’t drive– even after just one drink.
4. You’ll be at risk of liver damage.
Alcohol and kava are both slightly toxic to the liver. In large doses, either product can cause terminal liver failure. People who have liver damage from long-term alcoholism are at the greatest risk of serious kava side effects. When you use kava with alcohol, you put yourself at an increased risk of liver problems.
The National Institutes of Health and University of Maryland Medical Center offer further information about kava-kava.