Experts propose global guidelines for safe use of Kava and new Australian study

Feb 28, 2011

Medical and scientific experts propose a global framework for the safe production and use of the medicinal plant Kava, including further clinical testing In Australia.

The South-Pacific plant has been traditionally used to reduce stress and anxiety but is restricted in some countries.

Leading world Kava experts Dr Jerome Sarris from the University of Melbourne, Australia; Professor Rolf Teschke from Wolfgang Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Germany; and Dr Vincent Lebot from CIRAD, Port-Vila, Vanuatu, have proposed a six-point plan that is intended to become the framework to assist in the re-introduction of Kava to restricted countries. The framework will ensure only high quality Kava to be consumed throughout the Pacific and the rest of the world.

The framework was recently published in the international journals Phytomedicine and The .

"Kava can potentially be used safely if this framework for production and use is adopted," Dr Jerome Sarris said.

Kava was restricted for use in 2002 in Europe, United Kingdom and Canada over concerns it may cause liver problems (on average one case per every 50 million doses). This was considered to be potentially due, in part, to companies using chemical extracts from poor quality material using an incorrect type of Kava.

Dr Sarris said the future regulatory and commercial strategies should focus not only on the standardisation of medicinal Kava products and traditional Kava extracts, but also on thorough surveillance during the manufacturing process to improve Kava quality for safe human use.

"It is intended now that these recommendations be taken up by Kava producing Pacific Island countries in order to reinvigorate the Kava industry and provide a pathway back to safe global use of the plant," Dr Sarris said.

The use of the plant as a treatment for generalised anxiety is part of two human trials currently being conducted by Dr Sarris in Melbourne Australia, where it is available over the counter.

In Australia in 2005, the Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration allowed for water soluble extracts of Kava to be used for medicinal purposes.

Preliminary results with the Mediherb extract showed the kava extract used was safe and effective in reducing anxiety.

"We do however, need a larger study to validate this result," Dr Sarris said.

The six-point framework for the safe production and use of Kava is as follows;

  1. Use of Kava plants at least five years old ("noble" type of Kava cultivar is preferred, as it is traditionally considered safe)
  2. Use of the peeled rhizome (root) of Kava plant (not leaves or aerial parts)
  3. Water-soluble extract for Kava (not alcohol or chemical solution to extract constituents)
  4. Dosage recommendations of less than 250 mg of kavalactones (the active chemicals) per day for medicinal use
  5. Systematic rigorous future research investigating safety issues (potentially from poorly stored and manufactured Kava material, and/or incorrect cultivar and plant material), and human clinical trials using noble cultivars prepared via good pharmaceutical manufacturing practice
  6. A Pan-Pacific quality control system enforced by strict policing.

Explore further: Hazelwood coal fire linked to 11 deaths

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Research finds kava is safe and effective

May 11, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- UQ research has found a traditional extract of kava, a medicinal plant from the South Pacific, to be safe and effective in reducing anxiety.

How safe and effective are herbal dietary supplements?

Jul 21, 2010

Millions of people are taking herbs and other plant-based dietary supplements to improve their health, but they have precious little information on the actual effectiveness or potential ill effects of these products. That's ...

SLU doctor warns against St. John's wort for anxiety

Apr 06, 2010

In a broad-based review of studies focused on drugs that treat anxiety, a Saint Louis University doctor found no evidence supporting the use of so-called "natural" treatments in combating the effects of anxiety.

Recommended for you

Here's to wine, chocolate and a long, healthy life

46 minutes ago

Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122, remains the oldest person on record. One might assume that she led a faultless, healthy lifestyle. Not at all. Every year on her birthday, as her celebri ...

Experts discuss communications gap on vaccines

1 hour ago

The number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children is on the rise, and with it the incidence of preventable diseases such as measles. The health community could reverse the trend by doing a better ...

Do wearable lifestyle activity monitors really work?

14 hours ago

Wearable electronic activity monitors hold great promise in helping people to reach their fitness and health goals. These increasingly sophisticated devices help the wearers improve their wellness by constantly monitoring ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

fiji_taro_and_kava_dot_com
not rated yet Mar 05, 2011
Congrats on the PhD Jerome. Now please settle the matter for us naturopaths.