Hemp and Kava: How Do They Work & How Do They Compare?

Every culture around the world has a relationship with plants and the natural world that spans thousands of years. This wisdom and connection with the plants is often overlooked in Western society in favor of science, but we believe that both co-exist quite nicely together. 

Traditional wisdom and modern research often point to similar findings, which is why we at Foria always look to the wisdom of the natural world when we design our unique, life-changing formulas for intimacy and relief.

Nature is incredible — there are endless beneficial, naturally-occurring, and powerful compounds and medicinal properties found in plants, and we’re only beginning to scratch the surface. We think that two of them, hemp and kava, are so impressive that we have leaned into including them in many of our formulas. 

We want you to see for yourself just how hemp and kava can work for you, so we created this primer. We’ll answer all your questions about how they work, why we use them, and why they’re so great, both on their own and paired together. 

What Is Hemp?

The hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, has been cultivated all over the world for millennia. With countless uses including food, fuel, fiber for rope and clothing, medicine, and in the modern age, even bioplastics – and also just feeling good – it’s one of humanity’s most powerful and versatile plant allies.

All hemp is not the same, however. Like wheat, roses, and any other species of cultivated botanical, different kinds of hemp have different properties. The most notorious is the cannabis plant, a cultivar of C. sativa that contains high concentrations of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid that’s famous for getting people high (and, unfortunately, getting them into legal trouble in the many places where it’s still criminalized).

But other cultivars of hemp do not contain THC, or contain it in very low concentrations. For instance, the hemp we use to make our formulas is grown to produce CBD oil. 

CBD is shorthand for cannabidiol, a naturally-occurring compound found in hemp. But don’t worry — CBD doesn’t contain any of the mind-altering parts of cannabis, so it won’t be intoxicating.

Unlike cannabis, which is only legal in roughly 20 states (it’s increasing by the year), CBD is legal in most states. Don’t be intimidated; more and more people are using CBD for a wide range of wellness benefits, and it won’t make you fail any drug tests (as long as it is broad-spectrum or CBD isolate). 

Just remember to avoid full-spectrum CBD if you’re concerned about drug tests, as a small amount of THC remains in these products. Let’s dive in. 

How It Works

To understand how CBD works, you must also understand your endocannabinoid system (or ECS). Don’t remember studying your ECS in high school anatomy? You probably didn’t! 

The ECS was only discovered relatively recently, by researchers in the 1990s who were looking into how THC impacted the body. They learned that there is a whole network of cellular receptors and chemical signals throughout our entire body, including our brains! 

Those receptors actually outnumber most of the other types of receptors we have, which makes the ECS a super effective tool if we learn how to properly support it. 

The receptors of the ECS in the brain (known as CB1 receptors) are especially vital. CB1 receptors can impact many other neurotransmitters, which allows them to regulate a ton of crucial bodily functions and responses — hunger, alertness, temperature, pain, etc. The body makes endocannabinoids for stimulating those receptors into action. 

CBD isn’t itself an endocannabinoid (a cannabinoid naturally produced in the body), but it’s so chemically similar to them that it can bond with these receptors and send the same messages as our own endocannabinoids. 

Why We Use It

Because of CBD’s similarity to endocannabinoids, it has a vast range of potential benefits throughout the body (and the mind). While research is still up and coming (remember, we’ve only known the ECS exists for just a few decades!), there is the potential for a lot of benefits in soothing feelings of stress, alleviating physical discomfort, and helping you get those beloved ZZZs (among many others!). 

We like CBD because it can support healthy blood flow, chill out muscles, ease tension, and soothe discomfort — all things that make sex much more fun and exciting. But there are plenty of ways you can incorporate CBD into your life!

What Is Kava?

Okay, shifting gears! Let’s talk about kava — an herb that comes from the root of the Piper methysticum plant. Native to the pacific islands, kava has been used for thousands of years both ceremonially and recreationally. The origins have been foggy, but many believe kava originated in Vanatua. 

On some South Pacific islands, fresh kava root is used to prepare the traditional drink; on others, islanders use to the dried or ground roots. For centuries, this root has been a part of both important social gatherings and every day activities. It has been used to soothe feelings of stress, support a good night’s sleep, and loosen inhibitions during group functions.

How It Works

Kava’s benefits come from active substances called kavapyrones. While there isn’t a lot of research on exactly how these substances affect the body, we do know that the result impacts how our nerves send messages.

Specifically, kava can positively affect GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). The more GABA you have in your system, the more relaxed you feel.

Certain anxiety medications and alcohol impact GABA the same way, although we don’t recommend drinking to feel calm. Plus, kava isn’t addictive and doesn’t seem to create the same mental and physical slowdown or side effects as those other alternatives. 

Another one of those kavapyrones, desmethoxyyangonin, also has an effect on dopamine (the neurotransmitter known as the “reward center” because it makes you feel good!). The more dopamine you have in your body, the better you’ll feel. 

Kava may also be able to interact with the endocannabinoid receptors we talked about earlier (the CB1 receptors)! That’s double the benefits when combined with CBD — which is why CBD and kava are so great. 

Why We Use It

Like CBD, kava is a soother. It’s mainly used for its mental impact — slowing down those racing thoughts and creating a greater sense of calm (which we could all use a little more of, right?). However, kava can cause a very pleasant tingling sensation in the mouth when drunk, and we find similar results when used vaginally. 

How Do Hemp and Kava Work Together?

Obviously, hemp and kava are both incredible on their own. But, when paired together, hemp and kava can take things to a whole new level.

Take our Intimacy Bath Salts, for example. Who couldn’t use the relaxation of a nice, warm bath? A little self-care is good for everyone — no matter what your life looks like!

While the benefits of setting time aside to take care of yourself are impressive on their own (seriously, when was the last time you did that?), adding CBD and kava to the mix helps to deepen your sense of relaxation, both physically and mentally. What you do with that extra sense of calm and relief is up to you.

To use bath salts, pour yourself a nice warm bath, add ¼ of the jar directly to the water, and hop in. If you’re worried about your drains, you can put the bath salts into a muslin bag first — you’ll get all the benefits without as much cleanup. 

Another product that combines CBD and kava while also specifically helping to support your sex life is our Awaken Arousal Oil. Our arousal oil is designed for those with female anatomy, and you can use it by yourself or with a partner. 

Apply a generous amount directly to your clitoris and inner labia, as well as inside your vagina, for penetrative sex, and let it work its magic. As the arousal oil absorbs, you’ll notice increased sensation and pleasure — usually just five to 30 minutes after application.

Which Is Better for Sex, Hemp or Kava?

It’s hard to compare CBD and kava directly because they work slightly differently. The crucial factor in deciding between the two (if you don’t want to use them together) is looking at why you’re interested in using them. While there are a lot of similarities between them (which is why they get paired together so often), there are a few important differences to note.

Important Differences

CBD tends to be a more versatile, well-rounded choice because it has far greater potential to positively impact your physical and mental well-being. Kava may be slightly stronger in its mental relaxation potential, but it does offer a topical tingling sensation that many agree is a great addition. 

Another big difference between CBD and kava is that CBD has more direct scientific research behind it. That doesn’t mean that CBD is any more effective than kava, just that more money has been spent researching how it works. If you’re looking for a product backed by research, you will find more information on CBD than on kava. 

If you decide combining CBD and kava isn’t for you, but you like the idea of using an arousal oil to amp up your pleasure and sensation during sex, check out our Awaken Arousal Oil with Botanicals. This version of our arousal oil focuses solely on kava, giving people who prefer to avoid CBD a way to keep their sex life banging without it. 

You apply it the same way you would the CBD-based arousal oil, directly to the clitoris, labia, or vagina — then let the good times roll!

How Else Can You Use CBD and Kava?

Another way to use CBD and kava together outside of arousal oil is in a topical salve for menstrual discomfort, like our Relief Salve

Our salve was designed to help with discomfort all over the body, but it is incredibly helpful for your cramps during that time of the month. In addition to CBD and kava, we use other traditionally powerful plant remedies and essential oils — ginger, St. John’s Wort, eucalyptus, and peppermint (among others). 

We mix those ingredients with organic MCT coconut oil, castor oil, and beeswax to give it a consistency you can easily massage into your skin where you need it. When you need it, just rub a generous amount into your skin. 

To really up the ante, apply heat before you use the salve — a warm washcloth or a few minutes with a heating pad works wonders to improve blood flow to the area even more! Combined with the increase in circulation that the massage alone supports, you’ll get quicker results. Plus, it just feels good! 

If your menstrual pain is really cramping your style, you can add relief melts to the mix. When you insert them at the start of that familiar ache, you can further reduce your discomfort and get back to living and enjoying your life. 

Lay on your back with your knees bent, and insert the suppository as far into your vagina as possible (using lube if necessary, and always washing your hands first). The relief melt will start working quickly; all you have to do is lay back and relax. While you’re waiting, try rubbing a little bit more relief salve into your lower abdomen and pelvis. 

The only place you shouldn’t use relief salve (with or without CBD and kava) is orally or directly to your genitals. Store your salve in a cool, dry place. 

If it separates, stir it gently back together, and then put the entire container in the fridge for a bit! Plus, the cooling effect that using your salve right out of the fridge has adds even more of a soothing benefit.

The Bottom Line

CBD and kava are both potent on their own but can be even more impressive when combined in a single product. But don’t just take our word for it; we know our Relief Salve and Awaken Arousal Oil will make a believer out of you. 

You deserve to experience life with as little pain and as much calm as possible, and CBD and kava can help you achieve just that! Trust that Foria Wellness is always here for you, helping to improve your life in whatever ways we can. 


An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system | PMC 

Kava - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics 

The Effect of Therapeutic Modalities on Blood Flow in the Human Calf | JOSPT 

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