- Kava is native to the islands of the western Pacific and is a member of the pepper family.
- Pacific islanders have used kava for thousands of years as a medicine and for ritual purposes.
- Today, kava is promoted as a dietary supplement for anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions.
- There has been a fair amount of research in people on the use of kava for anxiety, but few studies have been done on other conditions.
- Kava supplements may have a small effect on reducing anxiety, but they have been linked to a risk of severe liver injury.
- There isn’t enough evidence to show whether kava is helpful for any other conditions.
- The use of kava has been linked to liver injury that is sometimes serious or even fatal. The exact cause and frequency of the liver damage are unclear.
- Kava can cause digestive upset, headache, dizziness, and other side effects. The use of kava may affect the ability to drive or operate machinery. Long-term use of high doses of kava may cause kava dermopathy, a condition that involves dry, scaly, flaky skin with a yellow discoloration.
- Kava may have special risks if taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding because of the presence of harmful pyrone constituents.
- Talk to your health care providers about any complementary health approaches before you use. It may be contraindicated with any medications you are currently taking.