Kava

Douglas D. Glover

Summary

Kava has a long history of traditional use for the treatment of symptoms related to anxiety, stress, and nervous restlessness and has demonstrated effectiveness for treatment of anxiety in double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Lack of both dependence and documented adverse effects contributed to kava's popularity up through the 1990s. Typical adverse effects have been limited to reversible yellowing of the skin after chronic use and a temporary condition known as kava dermopathy. Subsequent reports of hepatotoxicity in Europe and less frequently in the United States have resulted in a decrease in its popularity as well as regulatory action by various government regulatory bodies against specific formulations. Although subsequent analysis has concluded that "there is no clear evidence that the liver damage reported in the United States and Europe was caused by the consumption of kava" much of the US market for the herb has been diminished.

Key Words: Piper methysticum; kava lactones; anxiolytic; hypnotic.

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