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So, this is the year you want to get healthy.
There’s just one problem – you have 300 different supplements to choose from. So how do you know which one to take?
Well, in my Supplement Comparison Series, I take two supplements and put them against each other on benefits, side effects, price, and more. The goal isn’t to pick a “winner”, but to help you decide which one is right for you.
In this piece, we have Ashwagandha vs Kava.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is a herb native to India that’s been used for various health conditions for thousands of years. It belongs to the Solanaceae family of plants which includes popular vegetables like eggplants and potatoes.
It’s known for its ability to promote feelings of strength, calmness, and wellbeing in people.
In the Sanskrit language, Ashwagandha roughly translates to the smell of a horse, suggesting it can give you the strength of a stallion.
(The root of Ashwagandha supposedly smells like horse sweat. A fair trade-off for giving you the strength of a stallion in my opinion!)
What is Kava?
Kava (Piper Methysticum) is a plant native to Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia. In these regions, people have been using Kava at social ceremonies for thousands of years.
And like Ashwagandha, Kava belongs to the Solanaceae family of plants.
Today, Kava is used across the globe for its calming and euphoric effects.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha may help relieve anxiety
Wanna know a shocking fact?
More than 40 million US adults suffer from anxiety and related disorders.
This makes anxiety the most common mental ailment in America.
Well according to research, Ashwagandha may be useful for those suffering from anxiety.
In one study, the subjects took either 600mg of Ashwagandha or a placebo each day for 2 months.
According to the results, the Ashwagandha group had a bigger reduction in scores on the stress test than the placebo group.
Another study compared the anxiety levels of people taking either Ashwagandha or a placebo each day for 6 weeks.
By the end of the 6 weeks, 88% of the Ashwagandha takers had less anxiety.
Ashwagandha may help boost testosterone levels
Many people have lower than ideal testosterone levels nowadays.
There are various reasons for this including poor diets, lack of exercise, and poor sleep hygiene.
But low testosterone levels are nothing to laugh about – they may even contribute to depression in aging men. (Source)
And this is where Ashwagandha may be handy.
A study of 75 infertile men found that Ashwagandha supplementation increased Seminal testosterone levels.
Ashwagandha may help increase lean mass and strength
Although Ashwagandha is rarely talked about in the bodybuilding community, research shows it may help those wanting to get bigger and stronger.
A study of 57 subjects investigated the effects of Ashwagandha on muscle size and strength.
Each day of the study, some people took 600mg of Ashwagandha and the others took a placebo.
The results showed that the Ashwagandha group had bigger increases in lean mass, strength, fat loss, and testosterone levels than the placebo group.
Ashwagandha may help lower blood sugar levels
According to research, Ashwagandha may help lower blood sugar levels.
In one study, 12 participants took Ashwagandha and their blood sugar levels were monitored.
After taking Ashwagandha for a month, their blood sugar levels were lowered by amounts comparable to a blood sugar lowering drug.
Benefits of Kava
Kava may help boost mental function
Kava is widely used for its brain-boosting properties.
And for good reason too.
One study showed that a single 300mg dose of Kava improved visual attention and short term memory.
According to the results, the Kava takers performed significantly better at the task than the oxazepam takers.
Kava may help improve sleep
Many people take Kava as a natural sleep aid.
In one study, 24 people with insomnia took 120mg of Kava each day for 6 weeks.
According to the results, the Kava significantly improved their insomnia by lowering their stress.
In another study, 61 people took either 200mg of Kava extract or a placebo each day for 4 weeks.
The results showed that the Kava group had significantly better sleep than the placebo group.
Interestingly, they also reported less anxiety.
Kava may help relieve anxiety
Like Ashwagandha, Kava may help reduce anxiety.
In one study, 101 people with anxiety took either Kava or a placebo for 25 weeks.
The results showed that the Kava takers had significantly improved anxiety after 8 weeks.
Also, a review of 11 studies found that Kava significantly reduced anxiety when compared to a placebo.
Ashwagandha is normally sold in tablets or as a liquid extract.
Here are some standard prices for these:
- Tablets: $18 for 100
- Liquid Extract: $17 for 2 Oz
Kava is usually sold in capsules or as a powder.
Typical prices for these are:
- Powder: $32 for 8 Oz
- Capsules: $20 for 100
Ashwagandha Side Effects
Most people who take Ashwagandha supplements experience very few side effects, but in some clinical studies, the following effects have been reported:
- Upset stomach
Also, those taking medications that can affect your blood sugar levels should consult a doctor before taking Ashwagandha, due to its effects on blood sugar levels.
The following people should avoid Ashwagandha:
- Pregnant women
- People with stomach ulcers
- People with low/high blood pressure
- People who are allergic to Solanaceae plants, i.e. Potatoes, Eggplants, etc.
- People with autoimmune conditions, i.e. Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.
Kava Side Effects
Like Ashwagandha, Kava is usually safe to consume but the following side effects have been reported in some cases:
Also, Kava can impact motor skills and reaction time so driving and operating heavy machinery is not recommended after taking Kava.
Kava may interact with certain drugs and medications which can cause severe liver damage, so please talk to a doctor before taking Kava.
My Ashwagandha Recommendation: NaturaLife Labs Ashwagandha
An affordable, organic, and high strength Ashwagandha supplement.
NaturaLife Labs Ashwagandha gets the gold star.
What I like about it
It’s great that this Ashwagandha contains only organic, natural ingredients meaning it’s free from any chemical pesticides or herbicides.
Just as nature intended.
Another solid feature is the addition of black pepper extract.
Well, it’s believed that Ashwagandha is more absorbable when taken with black pepper extract, meaning your body can utilize it better.
The reviews are awesome too, which shows that lots of people have used this supplement with amazing results.
If you take this every day as advised, a bottle will only last you a month or so.
My Kava Recommendation: Kava Kalm Micronized Kava Powder
An epic Kava supplement in powdered form.
Kava Kalm Micronized Kava Powder is the bee’s knees.
What I like about it
The fact that it’s powdered means you can mix and match the dosage to meet your individual needs.
(Since we’re all biologically different, some people respond better to a smaller dose, while others will be more suited to a bigger dose.)
And as it’s a pure powder, there are no dodgy additives, fillers, or preservatives you need to be wary of.
Just pure Kava goodness.
Also, a quick flick through the reviews show that many people feel relaxed and calm after taking this supplement.
Kava powder supposedly has a muddy taste.
Can You Take Ashwagandha And Kava Together?
There are some supplements out there which contain both L-Theanine and Ashwagandha, which suggests that they can be taken together.
That being said, you should always consult a medical doctor before starting a new supplement regimen.
Ashwagandha vs Kava: The Verdict
Well I hope this Ashwagandha vs Kava face off has been an enjoyable read.
These are both solid supplements that aren’t too expensive and offer so many benefits.
Hopefully, you’ve now decided which one to side with.
But for those on the fence, here’s what I’d recommend:
You might prefer Ashwagandha if:
- You want to boost your testosterone levels
- You want to improve your blood sugar levels
- You want to put on more muscle and get stronger
You might prefer Kava if:
- You want to improve your sleep
- You want to improve your mental function
Hope this helped!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.