Kava Kava (piper methysticum) is native to the islands of South Pacific, the root of the kava plant has been used as a social and ceremonial drink with an alcohol-like effect for centuries. Kava is known for its tranquilizing qualities and is often used to treat anxiety. Kava has also been used to treat conditions such as insomnia, epilepsy, psychosis, depression, migraines, muscle pain and menstrual discomfort. In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about kava’s safety for human consumption. Talk to your health care provider before beginning use of kava supplements
How to Take Kava Kava:
Kava kava is available in the form of beverages, extracts, capsules, tablets and topical solutions.
Dosage Guidelines for Kava Kava:
In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about kava’s safety for human consumption. Talk to your health care provider before beginning use of kava supplements. Dosage guidelines recommend not exceeding 250 mg of the supplement within a 24-hour period.
Who Shouldn’t Take Kava Kava:
Kava kava is not recommended for:
- pregnant or nursing women
- children under age 18
- people with liver disease, liver problems, or those taking drugs that affect the liver
- people taking prescription monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
Medication Interactions With Kava Kava:
You should not mix alcohol with kava kava. Kava kava has the potential to interact with drugs used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. In addition, drowsiness may occur if combined withbenzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
Risks Associated with Kava Kava:
Side effects are rare but may include drowsiness, headache, stomach upset, dizziness and sensitivity to ultraviolet light sources. A consumer advisory was released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on March 25th, 2002 warning that kava-containing dietary supplements may be associated with severe liver injury. The advisory was based on reports from a number of countries including Germany, Switzerland, France, Canada and the UK where at least 25 cases of liver toxicity were reported. In addition, many countries have instituted bans on the sale of products containing kava kava.
- Kava has been reported to cause liver damage, including hepatitis and liver failure (which can cause death).
- Kava has been associated with several cases of dystonia (abnormal muscle spasm or involuntary muscle movements). Kava may interact with several drugs, including drugs used for Parkinson’s disease.
- Long-term and/or heavy use of kava may result in scaly, yellowed skin.
- Avoid driving and operating heavy machinery while taking kava because the herb has been reported to cause drowsiness.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.