Kava

Treatment Overview

Kava—or kava kava—is a root found on islands in the western Pacific Ocean. Traditionally prepared as a tea, kava root is also available in other forms. These include dietary supplements and liquid or powder extracts.

Why It Is Used

Kava is used by some people for anxiety, sleeplessness, or other health problems. Taking kava may reduce anxiety. But so far there isn't clear proof from science that it helps with other health problems.

Risks

Kava may cause mild side effects, such as digestive problems, headaches, or dizziness. Over time, with high doses, it can cause dry, flaky, or yellow skin. Taking kava can also cause serious side effects, such as liver failure and death.

Kava can also affect how fast a person reacts, making it unsafe to drive or use heavy machinery.

Because of the side effects it can cause, kava isn't available in some countries.

The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way it regulates medicine. A dietary supplement can be sold with limited or no research on how well it works.

Always tell your doctor if you are using a dietary supplement or if you are thinking about combining a dietary supplement with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on a dietary supplement. This is especially important if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

When using dietary supplements, keep in mind the following:

  • Like conventional medicines, dietary supplements may cause side effects, trigger allergic reactions, or interact with prescription and nonprescription medicines or other supplements you might be taking. A side effect or interaction with another medicine or supplement may make other health conditions worse.
  • The way dietary supplements are manufactured may not be standardized. Because of this, how well they work or any side effects they cause may differ among brands or even within different lots of the same brand. The form of supplement that you buy in health food or grocery stores may not be the same as the form used in research.
  • Other than for vitamins and minerals, the long-term effects of most dietary supplements are not known.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: January 3, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

View Doctors

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.