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Kava is a dietary supplement used to relieve stress, anxiety, tension, as well as sleep impairment and menopausal difficulties.  It grows in the South Pacific, and is commonly used by natives for social and recreational purposes.  In 2002 the FDA offered a consumer advisory that kava might be implicated in the development of liver injury.  Several nutritional supplement companies stopped offering it because of legal concerns.

It has since been learned that properly chosen and processed kava components are safe and effective, and unlikely to produce liver injury.  “…compelling evidence suggests short-term safety and efficacy of kava as an anxiolytic herbal drug” (JAMA, November 17, 2010, pp. 2174-75).

The kava product should be a water-based kava extract derived from peeled rhizomes and roots, of at least 5 years of age, with a daily dose not above 250 mg.  Under these conditions, kava has proven extremely safe.

Dr. Allan Sosin

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