Principal Proposed Uses
Kava is a member of the pepper family that has long been cultivated by Pacific Islanders for use as a social and ceremonial drink. The first description of kava came to the West from Captain James Cook on his celebrated voyages through the South Seas. Cook reported that on occasions when village elders and chieftains gathered together for significant meetings, they would hold an elaborate kava ceremony. Typically, each participant would drink two or three bowls of chewed kava mixed with coconut milk. Kava was also drunk in less formal social settings as a mild intoxicant.
What Is Kava Used for Today?
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Kava?
Note : This trial involved close medical supervision and very gradual tapering of benzodiazepine dosages. Do not discontinue anti-anxiety medications without supervision. Withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening.
At present, if you wish to use this herb, we recommend that you seek physician supervision to monitor for liver inflammation. People with liver problems, who drink alcohol excessively, or who take medications that can harm the liver, are probably at increased risk of harm by kava.
The German Commission E monograph warns against the use of kava during pregnancy and nursing. Safety in young children and individuals with kidney disease has not been established.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Medications for insomnia or anxiety such as benzodiazepines : Do not take kava in addition to them.
- Antipsychotic drugs : Kava might increase the risk of a particular side effect consisting of sudden abnormal movements, called a dystonic reaction.
- Levodopa for Parkinson's disease: Kava might reduce its effectiveness.
- Medications that can irritate the liver: Avoid kava. Numerous medications have this potential. Ask your physician to see if this concern applies to you.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -