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FDA Cautions Kava Users

By Well Journal Staff

The Federal Drug Administration is investigating a possible link between kava and liver damage, and is urging consumers of the popular supplement to consult their physicians if they begin to display symptoms of liver disease. These symptons include jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or eyes; brown urine; nausea or vomiting; light-colored stools; unusual tiredness or weakness; stomach or abdominal pain, or loss of appetite.

Twenty-five cases -- including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure -- have been reported in Germany and Switzerland, prompting several European countries, including Switzerland, Britain and France, to halt sales of products containing kava extract.

The reports were enough for the FDA to decide to investigate whether the herb poses a similar threat in the U.S.

The agency reports that it has received several indications of possible injury suffered by kava users, including a young woman with no history of liver problems who required a transplant.

"This kind of liver damage appears to be extremely rare," FDA supplement chief Dr. Christine Taylor told the Associated Press. "Because it's severe liver damage, however, we felt consumers needed to be aware of it,''

Kava, also sold under the name kava kava, ava, yangona and Piper methysticum, is commonly used to relieve tension, anxiety and insomnia, and to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is nutritional in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

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Last modified: June 28, 2015