We’ve routinely seen, and personally experienced, the itch and skin effects associated with drinking kava. It’s still up in the air as to what exactly causes these issues, but today I theorize that it’s NOT the kavalactones themselves, but a lesser known part of kava known as cinnamic acid. Cinnamic acid is known to attach to and activate receptors known as “nociceptors” or pain/temperature receptors. These receptors are found on mast cells (cells involved with release of histamines) as well as in many other areas of the body. When these are activated it causes influx of calcium into the mast cell as well as activating these receptors. This may speak to the negative skin reaction such as itch and kava skin as well as may be tied to the cold feeling many kava drinkers report. More research in this area is needed to confirm my hypothesis, however this gives us one more avenue to search in regards to the skin effects with kava.