When you drink kava tea every day, this is what happens to your body

You may have found refuge in your local kava tea bar if you're someone who likes to enjoy the nightlife without alcohol. These establishments offer a variety of kava-infused beverages, with the promise of numerous health benefits that better your body and bring calm to your mind. Given how central alcohol is in most bars and clubs, it can be a nice change of pace to ditch the vodka and sip on something that won't render you drunk.

Although this trend is fairly new in the United States, kava has a long history, dating back hundreds of years. Specifically, residents of the islands in the South Pacific have used the kava plant in ceremonial drinks for centuries, according to an article in Healthline. So drinking kava tea is nothing new, even if it's new to you.

But what else is there to know about kava tea, and what happens to your body if you drink it every day? Are there any negative effects in addition to the promised positive benefits? Read on to find out.

You may feel more relaxed if you drink kava tea every day

One of the main things that kava is known for is helping you mentally relax, whether that's after a long day of work or a big day of college exams. That's why people in the South Pacific turned to the elixir during their rituals, as they sought a state of deep relaxation, according to Healthline.

Drinking kava tea every day after your workout won't just calm your mind, either, as it's also physically relaxing, as registered dietitian Hayley Cimring says. "Exercise can leave you with tight and tired muscles," she revealed to The List. "Drinking kava is a great way to encourage muscle relaxation and eliminate stress in your limbs or body."

As to whether kava tea is more effective than other teas for relaxation, your mileage may vary, as noted by Amanda A. Kostro Miller, a registered dietitian. "Kava tea has been used for many years to help promote relaxation," she explained to The List. But she noted that you could potentially feel even more relaxed if you take a seat and sip any hot drink.

Drinking kava tea every night can help you sleep better

Approximately 60 million Americans struggle with chronic sleeplessness, according to NPR. Additionally, for reasons not fully understood by scientists, both women and individuals over the age of 65 are more likely to wrestle with persistent insomnia.

If you're included in that statistic, it turns out that drinking kava tea every night before bed might help, according to registered dietitian Hayley Cimring. "Kava's calming effect also plays a role in alleviating insomnia and improving sleep quality," she shared with The List. "A study found kava to be more effective than a placebo at improving sleep quality." She also added that it's not uncommon for people to substitute kava tea for other sleep medications because of its calming effects.

Of course, kava shouldn't be thought of as a substitute for your standard sleep medication, but there's certainly potential that it can help you more than counting sheep. That's as long as you don't drink too many cups of tea before bed, as that might make you more prone to use the restroom in the middle of the night.

Drinking kava tea every day may soothe your mouth

Do you find yourself struggling with oral pain? If so, doctor of dental surgery Mike Golpa says that you should consider drinking kava tea every day, as it has numbing properties. "For this reason, if you suffer from a toothache or any other discomfort in your mouth, think of drinking kava tea," he told The List. "Kava is considered to be an anesthetic, so you can also use it to relieve pains in other areas of your body." He added that some of that relief is due to the sense of well-being that kava can give you, as well as its relaxing qualities.

While kava tea can help you combat pesky oral pain, it's not a magic bullet, according to doctor of dental medicine Henry Hackney. "It will not prevent you from going to the dentist in case of cavities but can help with toothache," he revealed to The List. "Just rinse your mouth with it."

Hackney also says that drinking kava tea can help you cope with gum inflammation as well.

Prone to UTIs? Drink kava tea every day

If you've ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI), you know just how uncomfortable and painful they can be. And since women have a shorter urethra than men, ladies are more likely to develop a UTI, according to the Mayo Clinic. To that end, they recommend taking measures to prevent them from occurring in the first place, including drinking lots of water, practicing healthy hygiene habits, and avoiding irritating products.

If you drink kava tea every day, that can also help you avoid UTIs, as noted by registered dietitian Hayley Cimring. "Kava tea can be a very useful herb for urinary tract and prostate inflammation," she explained to The List. "As a part of a skillful herbal combination, kava is an important herb in the treatment of genito-urinary conditions."

Given that untreated UTIs can lead to a host of complications including recurring infections, kidney damage, and difficulties for pregnant women, it's good to have another tool to ward them away.

Feeling stressed out? Try drinking kava tea every day

According to the American Psychological Association, Americans are stressed out. In fact, 44 percent of people surveyed report that their stress levels have increased over the last five years, with economic concerns like job security and cash flow issues at the top of the list. It would seem then that we're edging closer to a public health crisis when it comes to our chronic worrying.

If you found yourself nodding in agreement while reading this, consider adding a cup of kava tea to your daily diet. That could help you put the kibosh on those nagging thoughts, as noted by doctor of dental medicine Henry Hackney. "It's a natural way to improve your mood and get rid of stress easily," he told The List. "The kavalactones contained in the drink cause quick relaxation."

For maximum impact, Hackney says to be mindful of when you choose to imbibe, too. "It is best to drink kava tea on an empty stomach or wait around a few hours after having a meal," he continued.

If you struggle with anxiety, try drinking kava tea every day

In addition to beating back stress, drinking kava tea every day can help you manage your anxiety disorder — something that 40 million Americans struggle with. In some cases, kava may be better than the alternative, too, according to Hayley Cimring, a registered dietitian. "Most research shows that taking kava extracts that contain 70 percent kavalactones might work as well as some prescription anti-anxiety medications, with no evidence of dependency." That's great news!

So what specific mechanisms are at work when it comes to how kava can fight anxiety? "Kavalactones interact with the limbic system of the brain including the amygdala, the part of the limbic system that regulates emotions," Cimring continued. "As a result, kava is well known to reduce stress and anxiety and increase feelings of well-being."

So if you struggle from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, or social anxiety disorder, or have phobias, adding a cup of kava tea might be a wise move to soothe those frayed nerves.

Tapering off benzos? Drink kava tea every day

One of the most popular prescription drugs to treat anxiety are benzodiazepines, according to Harvard Medical School. Introduced in the 1960s, drugs in this class have been shown to be extremely effective at tamping down panic, though they also have side effects and can cause dependence in some individuals. That can cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them, such as irritability, sleeplessness, a racing heart, aches and pains, blurred vision, and more.

So if you're looking for something to ease your withdrawal period, consider drinking kava tea every day, says registered dietitian Hayley Cimring. "If you're coming off benzos, kava may come in handy," she revealed to The List. "Discontinuation of benzos can lead to anxiety, and kava may be used to mediate withdrawal-induced anxiety associated with discontinuing long-term use of benzos."

Of course, before you start drinking kava tea every day, be sure to talk to your doctor and receive approval.

Does drinking kava tea every day help with menstrual cramps?

Do a quick search of the internet for kava tea benefits, and you'll find that many alternative practitioners recommend it to people who are suffering from symptoms of PMS. But will drinking kava tea every day really help you beat the bloat, ease the pain, and get some relief from the unwelcome monthly disturbance?

The answer is complicated. According to Science Direct, there have been some small studies that indicate kava can help with the anxiety that comes with menopause. Unfortunately, there are no trials that prove that it can remedy PMS symptoms like cramping, water retention, and mood swings, so clearly more research is needed.

If you find that just curling up with a mug of kava tea helps you manage your PMS symptoms, then go for it, but make sure you've had a discussion with your healthcare professional first.

Drinking kava tea every day can have negative effects

For some people suffering from stress, anxiety, and/or insomnia, drinking kava tea really can feel like a magic cure. To have a natural remedy that isn't habit forming (like benzodiazepines) that actually works can be a game changer for folks who need relief from their constant worries. The struggle is real!

It's not all good news, however, as there's more to the story when it comes to kava. "It's no secret, that kava tea has some negative effects," says Mike Golpa, a doctor of dental surgery. "It can cause, among others, nausea, rash, and heart problems." Um, yikes!

Unfortunately, that's not the extent of it, either. That's because "heavy" kava consumption has also been linked to eye irritation and heart problems, as noted by the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health. So you'll definitely want to make sure that the benefits outweigh the risks when it comes to your daily mug of kava.

If you drink kava tea every day, your skin may change

Let's face it — you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't want healthy, blemish-free skin. That's why so many people have their skincare regimen down to a science, as noted by Allure. After all, it's important to care for your body's largest organ!

Unfortunately, if you've been drinking kava tea every day for a long time now, you might have noticed your skin isn't so happy. That's because of the kava, as noted by registered dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller. "The USDA states that long term use of kava has been linked to skin dryness, scaliness and even yellowing of the skin," she told The List.

That's not a new phenomenon, either, as this was first noted by members of Captain James Cook's expedition party, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. They observed the condition in residents of the islands in the South Pacific in the 1700s, where kava use originated.

You may damage your liver if you drink kava tea every day

Although scaly skin, nausea, and eye irritation are unpleasant side effects, they're not what you really need to worry about when it comes to kava tea — far from it. According to Mike Golpa, a doctor of dental surgery, there's a much larger risk associated with drinking kava tea every day. "Its biggest disadvantage is possible serious liver damage," he revealed to The List. "Studies show an association between high consumption of kava and increased levels of a liver enzyme." That's why kava has been banned in countries in Europe and in Canada, according to WebMD.

While the precise mechanism at work isn't 100 percent clear, according to Golpa, the evidence is clear that kava tea can be bad news for your liver. "Science is still not sure how this connection works," he continued. "But it's better to be careful with a daily cup of kava tea."

Drinking alcohol in addition to kava tea can put you at increased risk for liver damage, too, according to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health.

Does drinking kava tea every day damage your kidneys?

When an otherwise healthy 34-year-old man was found collapsed next to his bicycle on the side of the road, doctors in upstate New York were initially puzzled. The man was rushed to the ER with muscle breakdown and kidney failure, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Upon admission, the man was agitated to the point of combativeness, and he had to be restrained and sedated.

The cause? Believe it or not, it turned out that the man's daily kava tea was the culprit. He'd doubled his usual dose earlier in the day, which tipped him over the edge and into distress. Whether it was the kava itself, a foreign substance, or the body's reaction is unknown, but it took six days of hydration to flush the man's body and restore his kidney function.

Fortunately, according to Dr. Ryan P. Bodkin, the physician who treated the stricken patient, this isn't the norm. "It is extremely unusual to see toxicity like this," he explained, adding, "This is not to say it never happens, but we were fortunate to recognize it because it is so rare."

If you're on these medications, don't drink kava tea every day

While kava tea is something that's readily available at grocery stores and online shops, that doesn't mean it's safe to start drinking it every day if you're on certain medications. In fact, there are a couple of prescriptions that you absolutely shouldn't combine with kava tea, according to WebMD.

For one, if you're currently taking the benzodiazepine alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, don't drink kava tea — either every day or at all. Additionally, if you're on a sedative like zolpidem (Ambien), phenobarbital (Donnatal), clonazepam (Klonopin), or lorazepam (Ativan), don't add kava tea to your diet. Given that it can make you drowsy or sleepy on its own, the effect will be too much in combination with those medications.

Furthermore, WebMD cautions you should be mindful of your kava tea intake with a host of other prescription medications, primarily due to how the liver processes them.

Talk to your doctor before you start drinking kava tea every day

While there are plenty of advantages of drinking kava tea every day — especially when it comes to relaxing and unwinding — it's pretty clear that there may be serious drawbacks as well. "Because of this, you must make sure to not overdose on kava and may want to look into alternative methods of stress and anxiety release like meditation and yoga," says nutritionist Katie Boyd. That's a fair point to consider!

But the bottom line concerning kava tea is simple: Before drinking the beverage either every day or even at all, talk to your doctor. Your primary physician will be the best possible person to evaluate if you would benefit from adding kava tea to your daily diet, as the healthcare professional is familiar with your medical history, medications, and overall general health. So if your doctor says it's okay to drink kava tea, go for it! But if not, stick to your chamomile or other herbal teas to be on the safe side.