Why We Suggest 24 Hours Between Alcohol and Kava

Why We Suggest 24 Hours Between Alcohol and Kava

Best Fiji Kava on Sep 13th 2023

Alcohol, Kava, Mast Cells, DAO, and Histamine Intolerance.

Kava has been known to cause a rare allergic type reaction in some individuals. This leads to flushing, itching, and hive formation on the skin. This has been traced back to mast cell activation and the release of heparin and histamine by the action of some component in aqueous kava extracts (traditional kava). It has been found that other aggravators can cause this problem in people sensitive to mast cell activation. This sensitivity is known as MCAS “Mast Cell Activation Syndrome”, or Mastocytosis. This is characterized by the accumulation of excess mast cells in various parts of the body in most diagnoses, however some types of MCAS do not present themselves in this manner. The most common form of this is found in the mast cells of the skin, with rarer forms being found in the digestive tract, bones and other areas of the body. This is quite rare, however people with this syndrome can display dermatographia, a condition known for being able to draw on the skin with a dull pencil or pen only to have that area raise up and turn red as if reacting to an allergen or surface abrasion.

The triggers of mast cell activation can be [1]:

  • Heat, cold or sudden temperature changes
  • Stress: emotional, physical, including pain, or environmental (i.e., weather changes, pollution, pollen, pet dander, etc.)
  • Exercise
  • Fatigue
  • Food or beverages, including alcohol (spirits and wine more likely than beer [2])
  • Drugs (opioids, NSAIDs, antibiotics and some local anesthetics) and contrast dyes
  • Natural odors, chemical odors, perfumes and scents
  • Venoms (bee, wasp, mixed vespids, spiders, fire ants, jelly fish, snakes, biting insects, such as flies, mosquitos and fleas, etc.)
  • Infections (viral, bacterial or fungal)
  • Mechanical irritation, friction, vibration
  • Sun/sunlight

As evidenced, the list of triggers for mast cell activation in people who may be sensitive can be numerous, and differing amounts of these can trigger mast cell activation to different degrees. Today we’re theorizing that alcohol when combined with kava can lower this threshold to mast cell activation in combination with DAO reduction and lead to a histamine intolerance which can be expressed in an allergic type reaction.

Histamine Intolerance:

Histamine intolerance is not a sensitivity to histamine, but an indication that you’ve developed too much of it [3]. Histamine from foods is naturally broken down in the body by the enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO). A deficiency of DAO will cause the body to retain an excess amount of histamine and can also cause the allergy type reactions we’ve seen. Alcohol has been seen to reduce the levels of DAO in the body even in healthy individuals. Ethanol was shown to aggressively attack DAO, so even with normal levels of DOA in the body histamine saturation may occur [4]. Going one level further; alcohol and histamine compete for metabolization because they share the common enzymes aldehyde dehydrogenase and aldehyde oxidase. The metabolites of alcohol can effectively compete with the metabolites of histamine. Alcohol in this scenario can both cause mast cells to release their histamine, and prevent the body from removing it at the same time [5]. This amplification of histamine with alcohol through compounding mechanisms combined with the activity at mast cells that kava can provide gives us a better look into a possible cause of this problem.

[1] Symptoms and triggers of mast cell activation. (n.d.). TMS - The Mast Cell Disease Society, Inc. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from

[2] Hamilton Matthew, J. Scarlata Kate. (2020). Mast Cell Activation Syndrome – What it Is and Isn’t. NUTRITION ISSUES IN GASTROENTEROLOGY.

[3] Histamine intolerance: Causes, symptoms, and diagnosis. (2018, August 13). Healthline.

[4] DAO blocking foods——Official Scientific Society. (n.d.). Deficitdao_Org. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from

[5] Zimatkin SM, Anichtchik OV. Alcohol-histamine interactions. Alcohol Alcohol. 1999 Mar-Apr;34(2):141-7. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/34.2.141. PMID: 10344773.

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The content here presented above on kava and alternative health principles is for general information and facts only. Please don't take this information to spot, treat or heal any illness or medical conditions. Any health or safety related issues rising due to individual application of our products should be further researched. Therefore the advice of a medical professional is requested for hypersensitive reactions to unique ingredients.