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Kava Fact of the Day Kava Extractions


The Kaptain (40g)
KavaForums Founder
Kava Extractions: Solvents used and efficiency of extraction of kavalactones.

Today we’re going to dive into the extraction methods of kava and how effective they are. Since kava was discovered to have beneficial effects, we’ve attempted to concentrate and isolate psychoactive chemicals in the kava plant by way of extraction. It's important to understand that kava extracts are no more kava than caffeine pills are coffee. We haven't found extracts to fully mimic traditional kava, indicating there may be constituents of kava that solvents do not extract.

Different percentages and different kavalactones are extracted from the plant based upon which solvent is used. In this study they used water, acetone, chloroform, methanol, ethanol, and hexane as solvents. They were able to identify a total of 18 kavalactones. Of these 18 we’ll specifically be focusing on the major 6, and flavokavains. Kavain, DHK, DHM, Methysticin, Yangonin, DMY, and Flavokavains A, B, and C. The results of this study found that acetone, followed by water were the two best extraction mediums for kavalactones with emphasis on kavain. Interestingly, water was found to be better than the strong solvents at extracting kavain. Where water and acetone differ substantially is their ability to extract flavokavains, and yangonin. Acetone was able to extract 500% more FKB than water, and > 750% more yangonin than water. Acetone was found to have a maximum yield of 89.5% kavalactones, water 78.5%, chloroform 71.9%, hexane 68.6%, methanol 64.3% and least effective was found to be ethanol at 52.3%. Attached is table 1 from this study. This table shows extraction percentages of each kavalactone based on the solvent type used. This study seems to underscore the traditional knowledge of using water as an extraction solvent, mirroring traditional preparation.

Table 1.jpg

Xuan TD, Fukuta M, Wei AC, Elzaawely AA, Khanh TD, Tawata S. Efficacy of extracting solvents to chemical components of kava (Piper methysticum) roots. J Nat Med. 2008 Apr;62(2):188-94. doi: 10.1007/s11418-007-0203-2. Epub 2007 Nov 28. PMID: 18404321.