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Is Kava Dangerous?

Kava is a mind and mood-altering herbal intoxicant that has grown in prominence in recent years. The effects of kava are similar to those of alcohol—relaxation, talkativeness, and euphoria. For these reasons, kava is often used in effort to treat anxiety, insomnia, and stress.

Kava can be beneficial to those who do not have problems with addiction. According to the National Institute of Health, “The kava pyrones are believed to have anxiolytic, analgesic, muscle relaxing, and anticonvulsant effects, mediated by effects on the limbic system, the part of the brain linked to emotions.  The mechanism of action of the pharmacological effects of kava has yet to be elucidated.  Research has demonstrated that several factors, including concentration, type of preparation, kava pyrone content, and kava variety used may affect pharmacologic activity.  Therapeutic uses of kava include the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and stress.  Its abuse potential is low, but not absent.” Common side effects of kava are headache, dizziness, drowsiness, depression, diarrhea, and dermatological manifestations.

Case studies into kava use have yielded frightening results. According to a National Institute of Health case study, “In July 2002, a 56-year-old Australian woman who had been taking a kava product for three months developed nausea and jaundice.  The product was provided by a naturopath for anxiety to be taken three times daily:  Kava 1800 Plus labeled as containing 60 mg of kavalactones, 50 mg of Passiflora incarnata and 100 mg of Scutellaria laterifloria.  She had no previous major medical problems except for benign monoclonal gammopathy.  She had initially been seen with a two-week history of fatigue, nausea and increasing jaundice.  She had no risk factors for viral hepatitis, no history of liver disease and drank minimal amounts of alcohol.” Another case study found that a patient had “developed a severe acute hepatitis-like syndrome, followed by acute liver failure three months after starting a kava containing combination herbal medication.  Other causes of acute liver injury were excluded.”

Most importantly, however, men and women suffering from addiction cannot use any mind or mood-altering chemical without developing cravings. Powerless is one of the defining features of addiction, and addictive behavior can arise from the use of any mind or mood-altering substance. Even a seemingly less harmful substance such as kava can cause an individual to develop the phenomenon of craving, and quickly lose control over their ability to regulate how much and how often that are using, which, in the case of kava, can result in liver damage and other negative health consequences.

Your life doesn’t have to be held back by the chains of addiction. You can make the decision to seek help today and begin building a brighter future in sobriety. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, brings together compassionate and knowledgeable behavioral health and addiction specialists, spiritual guides, and holistic experts to help clients develop all the tools necessary to achieve and maintain sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431