In 2002, the FDA advised consumers of the potential risk of severe liver injury associated with the use of kava-containing (Piper methysticum) dietary supplements.
In 2003, the U.K.’s medicines regulatory body banned kava when it was linked to a number of deaths and liver damage around the world.
So, where are we today?
Now, two U.K. agencies have completed their reviews and concluded to continue the ban. According to one agency, “The new data were not sufficient to demonstrate the safety of food products containing kava kava.” The other agency concluded that the prohibition was justified and proportionate.”
Kava kava is also withdrawn from sale to varying degrees in France, Germany, Portugal and Ireland. The U.S. and New Zealand are carrying out safety assessments while products remain on sale. Canada and Australia are also conducting safety assessments and advising consumers not to use kava kava for now.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.