Kava KavaSuperior Extraction using a Sonicator

Kava extracts are moste efficiently produced using ultrasonic extraction. Ultrasonic extraction is a cutting-edge technique that harnesses the power of energy-dense sound waves to create highly effective kava (Piper methysticum) extracts using water or aqueous ethanol. The ultrasonic extraction method acts holistically, delivering the full range of potential therapeutic benefits from kava to a concentrated extract form. What is truly remarkable is that this ultrasonic extraction process maintains low temperatures, ensuring the utmost care for the delicate molecules within the kava kava roots.

Kava Extracts with Exceptional Potency due to Ultrasonic Extraction

Ultrasonic extraction improves the extraction rate and yields from kava kava (Piper methysticum)Kava kava extract, commonly referred to as kava extract, is a concentrated form of the active compounds of the kava plant, known as kavalactones or kavapyrones. Kava kava (Piper methysticum) is a plant native to the South Pacific, where it has been used for centuries in traditional ceremonies and for its potential calming, relaxing and anxiety relieving effects. Kavalactones are the bioactive compounds responsible for the physiological effects of the kava root and are believed to interact with neurotransmitter receptors, promoting relaxation and stress relief.
Consumers often use kava kava extract for its potential benefits, such as reducing anxiety, promoting relaxation, and supporting sleep.
Ultrasonic extractors are a highly efficient technique when it comes to the release and isolation of kavalactones (kavapyrones) and polyphenols from the kava root.
Using water as a solvent and maintaining temperatures below 105°F, sonication releases the full spectrum of bioactive compounds such as kavalactones from the root material. Since ultrasonic waves have a transformative effect on particle size by breaking down particles nano-scale particles and droplets, ultrasonic extracts show an enhanced bioavailability of the extracted compounds. This means that the body can more readily absorb and benefit from the therapeutic effects.

The extracts derived from kava kava are known for their extraordinary effects, which range from relaxing, anxiolytic to psychoactive.

Whether you want to produce kavalactone-rich tinctures, concentrates, soft extracts / resins, hydrosols, nano-emulsions, powder extracts or beverages, Hielscher sonicators are the ideal extraction technique: Within a gentle, yet highly efficient extraction process the kavalactones are preserved against degradation. Since sonication is superior when it comes to cell disprution, mass transfer and isolation of phytochemicals, you will obtain a full spectrum extract.

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Kava extraction with sonicator UP200HT

UP200Ht, a 200 watts powerful ultrasonic extractor, is used for the production of kava tinctures and concentrates.

How To Make a Kava Extract?

Kava resin contains the biologically-active kavalactones, which have psychoactive effects. These kavalactones can be efficiently extracted using a probe-type sonicator and organic solvents.
Using a probe-type sonicator for extracting compounds from kava involves a slightly different approach. A probe-type sonicator, also known as an ultrasonic probe or ultrasonic homogenizer, transmits ultrasound waves via a vibrating probe that is directly immersed into the slurry of kava root chips (ie.e., small pieces, coarse powder) and the solvent. In this slurry, the ultrasound waves create cavitation, which is known to create locally very energy-dense fields. Due to these highly intense cavitation, ultrasound promotes a very efficient extraction.
Here is how the process would look:
Materials Needed:

  1. Kava plant material (such as roots)
  2. Solvent (alcohol or water, based on the compounds being targeted). We recommend 65% aqueous ethanol for a full spectrum extract.
  3. Probe-type sonicator (ultrasonic probe or homogenizer)
  4. Glass container or vessel
  5. Strainer or filter
  6. Storage container made of dark glass


Procedure of Ultrasonic Kava Extraction:

  • Preparation of Kava Root Material: Prepare the kava material by cleaning, drying, and possibly grinding it into smaller pieces to enhance extraction.
  • Solvent Selection: Choose a suitable solvent based on the compounds you want to extract. Alcohol (like ethanol) can be used for kavalactones, while water may be suitable for other compounds. Therefore, 60%-70% aqueous ethanol is a great solvent combining the dissolving capacities of alcohol and water.
  • Sample-Solvent Mixture: Place the prepared kava material in a glass container and add the chosen solvent to cover the plant material.
  • Probe-Type Sonicator Setup: Insert the probe of the sonicator directly into the sample-solvent mixture in the glass container.
  • Sonication Process: Turn on the probe-type sonicator to initiate the ultrasonic vibrations. The probe will emit ultrasonic waves that create cavitation bubbles within the solvent near the kava material. These bubbles will facilitate the extraction of compounds by breaking down cell structures.
  • Extraction Time: The duration of sonication depends on factors like compound type and sonicator settings. Sonication can last from a few minutes to several hours, allowing the solvent to penetrate the kava material and extract the desired compounds.
  • Filtration: Once the sonication process is complete, remove the probe from the sample-solvent mixture. Use a strainer or filter to separate the extracted liquid from the plant material, capturing the liquid in a separate container.
  • Collection: Collect the filtered liquid, which now contains the extracted compounds from the kava material.
  • Further Processing: Depending on your objectives, you might need to concentrate the extracted compounds. This can involve techniques like solvent evaporation using methods such as rotary evaporation.
  • Analysis or Application: Analyze the concentrated extract using appropriate methods to determine compound presence and concentration. You can use the extract for further research, product development, or other applications.


Sonication parameters such as duration, amplitude, and probe depth can be adjusted regarding optimize extraction efficiency for your specific kava root material, solvent and compound targets. Probe-type sonication allows direct interaction with the sample, potentially leading to a highly controlled and efficient extraction compared to other sonication methods such as sonication using an ultrasonic cleaning tank.

Potent Kava Infusion with Ultrasound

The traditional kava beverage is made by steeping the kava rhizome like a tea. However, classic steeping does not release the full amount of kavalactones. But you can easily improve the steeping process using a sonicator, which allows you to release significantly more kavalactones into the beverage. Additionally, you can ultrasonicallybrewyour kava infusion in cold water, thereby preventing the thermal degradation of heat-sensitive phytochemicals.
You can use either fresh or as ground into a dried powder for such traditional kava infusion.

Probe-type ultrasonicators are highly efficient for the isolation of kavalactones (kavapyrones) and other bioactive compounds from the kava rhizomes/roots.

Ultrasonic extractor UP200Ht for the extraction of kava kava

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In this presentation we introduce you to the manufacturing of botanical extracts. We explain the challenges of producing high-quality botanical extracts and how a sonicator can help you to overcome these challenges. This presentation will show you how ultrasonic extraction works. You will learn, what benefits you can expect using a sonicator for extraction and how you can implement an ultrasonic extractor into your extract production.

Ultrasonic Botanical Extraction - How to use sonicators to extract botanical compounds

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Solvents for Kava Kava Rhizome Extracts using Sonication

Sonicator UP100H for the extraction of  kavalactones (kavapyrones) and polyphenols from kava (Piper methysticum) root.Ultrasonic extraction stands out for its remarkable versatility, as it is compatible with a wide range of solvents. This adaptability brings about significant benefits by accommodating various plant types and compound profiles. Whether using water, ethanol, or other aqueous solvents, ultrasonic extraction ensures that the therapeutic compounds of plants are efficiently captured. This compatibility allows for a tailored and optimized extraction adjusted to the unique composition of each plant and the solubility of the targeted compounds. As a result, ultrasonic extraction maximizes the extraction efficiency and potency of the final extract, delivering a potent full spectrum extract with high therapeutic potency.
For the production of an organic kava extract, distilled water, organic ethanol, an organic overproof spirits or aqueous ethanol are the go-to solvents.
If you want to extract kava for other purposes, you might be interested in the use of other solvents. Therefore, we present you below with the results of a scientific study, in which various other solvents are compared for their efficiency in kavalactone extraction
Xuan et al. (2008) investigated the effect of six different solvents on the ultrasonic extraction efficiency from kava (Piper methysticum). Comparing hexane, chloroform, acetone, ethanol, methanol, and distilled water as solvents, the research team found that acetone was the most effective in extracting kava lactones and other constituents from kava roots. Water and chloroform were useful, but were less effective than acetone.
Ultrasonic Extraction: Extractions were performed by sonicating 5 g ground kava root for 30 min in 200 ml of solvent.
They identified eighteen kavalactones, cinnamic acid bornyl ester and 5,7-dimethoxy-flavanone, known to be present in kava roots, were identified, and seven compounds, including 2,5,8-trimethyl-1-naphthol, 5-methyl- 1-phenylhexen-3-yn-5-ol, 8,11-octadecadienoic acid-methyl ester, 5,7-(OH)2-40-one-6,8-dimethylflavanone, pinostrobin chalcone and 7-dimethoxyflavanone-5-hydroxy-40 , were identified for the first time. Glutathione (26.3 mg/g) was found in the water extract. Dihydro-5,6-dehydrokavain (DDK) was present at a higher level than methysticin and desmethoxyyagonin, indicating that DDK is also a major constituent of kava roots.

Ultrasonic extractor and roto-vap for kavalactone extraction from kava kava rhizomes.

Sonicator UP400ST for kava root extraction and rotor-evaporator for post-processing/concentrating of the extract.


High-Performance Sonicators for Kava Extraction

Hielscher Ultrasonics is the leading manufacturer of high-performance ultrasonic extractors. The Hielscher product portfolio covers the whole rangefrom small handheld lab sonicators to mid-sale and fully-industrial ultrasonic extraction systems. Supplying botanical extract producers worldwide with sonicators and ultrasonic extraction equipment, Hielscher Ultrasonics is recognized as trustful partner for excellent ultrasonic technology and consultancy. We accompany our clients from first feasibility test and process optimization to the installation of their ultrasonic extraction system for the production of superior botanical extracts.
Our commitment lies in the meticulous attention to efficiency, reliability, cost-effectiveness and highest quality of the extraction process.
With precisely controllable sonicators, Hielscher ultrasonicators help to ensure that fragile therapeutic molecules present in plants remain intact throughout the process, preserving their potency and efficacy. Amplitude, intensity, time, temperature and pressure can be exactly pre-set and monitored during the sonication process. Thereby, Hielscher sonicators make it possible to reproduce extracts with continuously high quality standards and facilitate the fulfilment of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

Why Hielscher Ultrasonics?

  • high efficiency
  • state-of-the-art technology
  • reliability & robustness
  • adjustable, precise process control
  • batch & inline
  • for any volume
  • intelligent software
  • smart features (e.g., programmable, data protocolling, remote control)
  • easy and safe to operate
  • low maintenance
  • CIP (clean-in-place)

Make the most of it and contact us now! Embrace the benefits of ultrasound-assisted kava extraction and let us assist you in choosing the optimal sonicator for your specific kava extraction and process requirements.
The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our ultrasonicators:

Batch VolumeFlow RateRecommended Devices
0.5 to 1.5mLn.a.VialTweeter
1 to 500mL10 to 200mL/minUP100H
10 to 2000mL20 to 400mL/minUP200Ht, UP400St
0.1 to 20L0.2 to 4L/minUIP2000hdT
10 to 100L2 to 10L/minUIP4000hdT
15 to 150L3 to 15L/minUIP6000hdT
n.a.10 to 100L/minUIP16000
n.a.largercluster of UIP16000

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Ultrasonic high-shear homogenizers are used in lab, bench-top, pilot and industrial processing.

Hielscher Ultrasonics manufactures high-performance ultrasonic homogenizers for mixing applications, dispersion, emulsification and extraction on lab, pilot and industrial scale.

Design, Manufacturing and ConsultingQuality Made in Germany

Hielscher ultrasonicators are well-known for their highest quality and design standards. Robustness and easy operation allow the smooth integration of our ultrasonicators into industrial facilities. Rough conditions and demanding environments are easily handled by Hielscher ultrasonicators.

Hielscher Ultrasonics is an ISO certified company and put special emphasis on high-performance ultrasonicators featuring state-of-the-art technology and user-friendliness. Of course, Hielscher ultrasonicators are CE compliant and meet the requirements of UL, CSA and RoHs.

Literature / References

Facts Worth Knowing

Kava Kava Extracts
Kava kava extracts are consumed for various purposes, primarily due to their potential calming and relaxing effects. Kava kava, also simply referred to as kava, is a traditional plant from the South Pacific, where it has been used for centuries in cultural and ceremonial contexts. Its active compounds, known as kavalactones (kavapyrones), are believed to contribute to its effects. Here are some common reasons why people consume kava kava extracts:

  • Anxiety and Stress Relief: Kava kava is often used as a natural remedy to alleviate anxiety and stress. The kavalactones in kava are thought to interact with neurotransmitter receptors, promoting a sense of relaxation and tranquility. Some individuals turn to kava to help manage feelings of tension and unease.
  • Sleep Aid: Due to its potential calming effects, kava kava extracts are sometimes used as a sleep aid. People experiencing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep may use kava kava to promote better sleep quality.
  • Muscle Relaxation: Kava kava’s muscle relaxant properties can help ease physical tension and discomfort. This makes it a popular choice for individuals dealing with muscle tension, cramps, or other muscle-related issues.
  • Social and Recreational Use: In some cultures, kava is consumed in social gatherings to promote relaxation and a sense of camaraderie. Kava bars have become popular in some regions where people gather to consume kava-based beverages in a relaxed and social environment.
  • Mood Enhancement: Kava kava extracts are believed to have mood-enhancing properties. Some users report experiencing improved mood and a sense of well-being after consuming kava.
  • Cognitive Function: While research is ongoing, some studies suggest that kava kava may have a positive impact on cognitive function, memory, and attention. However, more research is needed to fully understand these potential effects.

It is important to note that the safety and efficacy of kava kava extracts can vary depending on factors such as the preparation method, dosage, and individual factors. Additionally, there have been concerns about potential liver toxicity associated with heavy and prolonged kava consumption. Because of these concerns, some countries have placed restrictions or bans on kava products. As such, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before using kava kava extracts, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications.

Always ensure you are using high-quality kava products from reputable sources and follow recommended dosage guidelines. Also note that in some countries the consumption of kava is illegal or with regulation or restrictions imposed. If you are considering using kava kava for any specific purpose, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider to discuss potential benefits and risks.

High performance ultrasonics! The Hielscher product range covers the full spectrum from the compact lab ultrasonicator over bench-top units to full-industrial ultrasonic systems.

Hielscher Ultrasonics manufactures high-performance ultrasonic homogenizers from lab to industrial size.

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