THC vs. Kava: Which One Feels Better?

THC vs. Kava: Which One Feels Better?

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Kava and cannabis are two psychoactive plants gaining traction across the country. While kava has been enjoyed for centuries by the indigenous peoples of Hawaii and other Pacific islands, on the mainland, it's gaining property as an alternative to alcohol. Cannabis, on the other hand, is going through a renaissance with easing perceptions among the public and the hemp industry, which has given access to legal THC to more Americans than at any point in recent history. 

But how do these plants "work," and why might you choose one? In this blog post, we'll answer these questions and more. 

How Does THC Work? 

chemical structure of THC

To understand the fundamental differences between kava and cannabis, we first need to discuss the mechanisms behind their psychoactive compounds. 

When you smoke, eat, vape, or consume cannabis in any way, there is a wide range of plant components that come into play. Some factors that will affect your experience include levels of cannabidiol (CBD), terpenes, and minor cannabinoids. However, what makes a cannabis product psychoactive is the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There are many forms of THC, such as Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10. But no matter the variant, they will all work in the same general way. 

THC can deliver its effects because its shape closely mimics anandamide. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid, a chemical messenger used in the human body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a vast network of chemical receptors and messengers that helps regulate vital functions such as: 
  • Pain management
  • Sleep
  • Emotional Processing
  • Appetite
THC's shape allows it to bind the CB1 receptors of the ECS primarily located in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). The reason why THC can deliver effects such as relaxation, euphoria, the "munchies," and others is because it temporarily modifies a system in the human body related to functions such as feeling, perception, and hunger. 

How Does Kava Work? 

Kava Kava powder

Kava can deliver its relaxing effects because of compounds known as "kavalactones." In total, there are 18 known kavalactones; however, six "major kavalactones" which include: 
  • Dihydrokavain
  • Dihydromethysticin
  • Desmethoxyyangonin
  • Kavain
  • Methysticin
  • Yangonin
Generally, kavalactones will deliver their effects because they boost the effectiveness (potentiate) of GABA-A receptors in the brain. But what is GABA? GABA stands for "gamma-aminobutyric acid." It's a neurotransmitter that works as a red or yellow light in the brain, stopping or slowing down signals in the central nervous system. Some scientists believe that GABA can help manage stress, anxiety, and fear in the brain, producing a calming effect. 

Interestingly enough, research has found that yangonin, like THC, will bind to the CB1 receptors of the brain. Although this is an interesting insight on this single kavalactone, kava products will have effects closer to alcohol, though milder and without the hangover. 

When it comes to the effect of kava and understanding its mechanisms, essentially, the root and its extracts will slow down signals in the brain, offering a relaxing, calming effect. 

Should You Go With Kava, THC, or Both?

comparison of kava and cannabis
Deciding between kava or THC will come down to one simple question: 

"Do you just want to take the edge off, or do you want something a bit stronger?" 

There's no right or wrong answer to this question. It comes down to the experience and feeling that you're looking for. For example, some of us might enjoy THC here and there but may find it too stimulating when trying to break the ice and socialize. Kava may be the better pick here since it can help calm your nerves and relax without getting too far out there.

On the other hand, you may prefer to go with THC if you're going to a concert or seeing a movie. THC is known to help appreciate people's enjoyment and appreciation of auditory and visual stimuli. You could go with kava, but it might not bring your experience to the next level.
Now, these are only some universal standards to go by. Some people may find themselves to be social butterflies after consuming a gummy. Others may want to feel clearer and more grounded when seeing a movie for the first time. The truth is that when it comes to any psychoactive plant compound, it's about discovering firsthand what these bring to you and where you see them fitting in your life. 

Essentially, deciding between kava or THC will come back to the question, "Do you just want to take the edge off, or do you want something a bit stronger?" 

But what happens when you mix THC and kava? With an edible, you will essentially get a two-phase experience. First, you'll experience the tingling sensation of kava as you consume the edible, followed by the kava's calming effects. Then, in classic edible fashion, you will feel the effects of THC (technically 11-hydroxy-THC, which is much stronger) melded with the kava. 

Combining THC and kava provides its own unique experience. You may find that the kava can help keep the THC in check with its ability to slow down signaling in the brain. Or you may even find that the two together are even more potent than when alone. 

Mixing THC with other psychoactive compounds should only be done by experienced cannassuers. What we mean is that at a point where you're familiar with THC, you know how many milligrams deliver what effects for you, and you certainly know your limits. Combining kava and THC is an avenue worth exploring if you find your tolerance is going up or you feel like your sessions are getting a bit stale. 

Final Thoughts

Kava and THC dark chocolate bar

Cannabis and kava are remarkable plants that brighten experiences or help us unwind. THC, the active compound in cannabis, works by modulating the system in your body that plays a role in sleep, appetite, emotional regulation, and pain management. Kava works by essentially slowing down signals in the brain. As you explore these plants, you may find one suites a different occasion or need than the other and vice versa. And mixing them can breathe new life into your next cannabis session. 

If you are curious about trying kava or kava combined with THC, we have a Kava Aswhaganda Dark Chocolate Bar for an experience that leans heavier into the kava side, while our Kava THC Dark Chocolate Bar brings cannabis and kava together. 

We hope this article offers you greater insight into cannabis and kava (and hopefully inspiration for upcoming sessions and experiences). But until next time, happy exploring, and mind your mind. 

FDA DisclaimerThe statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.

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