Kava Safety

Quality issues have spawned Myths and Misconceptions around Kava

Anyone researching kava for the first time will most certainly find websites, blogs and articles that claim kava drinking is bad for the liver and your health. The origin of these claims is research that was done over 15 years ago in Switzerland and Germany that led to kava drinking being banned in those countries. And that ban was reversed in 2015 after a growing body of new research has invalidated these incomplete early research findings. This new research has shown that cases of liver toxicity attributed to kava actually occurred only in extremely rare instances when individuals consumed contaminated kava products (toxic above ground aerial parts of the plant), non-noble varieties or kava extracts that were denatured through solvent extraction.  Also, most of these few cases of Liver toxicity occurred when these poor quality inedible kava parts were consumed in conjunction with other drugs and medications known to negatively affect liver function. 

A recent World Health Organization risk assessment of kava products has stated that ”Kava has had at least a 1500-year history of safe use, with liver side effects never having arisen in the Ethnopharmacological data.  Clinical trials of kava have not revealed hepatotoxicty as a problem. This has been confirmed by further studies evaluating the toxicology of the kava drink. Based on available scientific information it can be inferred that kava as a traditional beverage is safe for human consumption.” The indigenous peoples of most islands in the South Pacific have always seen traditional preparations of noble kava varieties as safe for daily consumption. In fact, the majority of people of Vanuatu, a South Pacific island, have been consuming them daily for over 3000 years.

Unfortunately the misinformation and health warnings still dominate online and obscure the numerous, and more up-to-date, University research studies that have since played a role in helping to vindicate kava and to gain a better understanding of how kava affects the mind and body. This has revealed numerous important potential health benefits of kava root and how to control for kava quality and Safety.

Over the last decade or so, a collection of many prominent researchers from the South Pacific and Europe have been working to develop an international quality standard in order to distinguish “safe” traditional kava from “questionable” kava-like products. Their goal is to get this new international standard adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission by the end of the year in 2020.  Charged with protecting consumer health and ensuring fair practices in the food trade, the Codex Alimentarius is a joint initiative of the Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations (FAO) and The World Health Organization (WHO).  It is likely that governments and regulatory agencies around the world will use these new established standards to make this clear distinction between safe and potentially suspect kava products. Kava is currently classified as a dietary supplement in the United States by the FDA. This initiative’s goal is to get noble traditional kava products classified as a food (like coffee) as long as they meet the standards. After the standards are adopted, this is very likely to happen. 

Under this new international quality standard, the criteria that will have to be met by any kava product that a company wants to receive food classification for includes:

  • The product must be lab tested to ensure that is 100% root material and contains no toxic aerial parts (leaves and stems)
  • The product must be lab tested (by chemotype through HPLC) to ensure that it is 100% Noble Kava
  • The product must be lab tested to ensure that it was water and/or pressure extracted and contains no solvent material
  • The product must be lab tested for contaminants (bacteria, mold, mycotoxins)

 

TRU KAVATM is the primary leader in the field of kava innovation that is providing the absolute safest and most effective kava products on the market. At TRU KAVATM (www.gettrukava.com ), they are setting the new standard for kava quality in the market place. TRU KAVATM ’s strict quality standards are based on all of the same criteria that this international quality standard initiative has laid out in their proposal to Codex Alimentarius and The World Health Organization (WHO). However, they even go beyond that by conducting even more thorough lab testing for both biological and industrial contaminants.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

 

References

 

  1. Electrospray high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry in phytochemical analysis of kava (Piper methysticum) extract. Planta Med. 1997 Feb;63(1):70-4.  He XG1, Lin LZ, Lian LZ.
  2. Kava and kava hepatotoxicity: requirements for novel experimental, ethnobotanical and clinical studies based on a review of the evidence.Phytother Res. 2011 Sep;25(9):1263-74. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3464. Epub 2011 Mar 28.  Teschke R1, Qiu SX, Xuan TD, Lebot V.
  1. Herbal hepatotoxicity by kava: update on pipermethystine, flavokavain B, and mould hepatotoxins as primarily assumed culprits. Dig Liver Dis. 2011 Sep;43(9):676-81. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2011.01.018. Epub 2011 Mar 4.Teschke R1, Qiu SX, Lebot V.
  1. Are mould hepatotoxins responsible for kava hepatotoxicity? Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26(11):1768-70. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4620. Epub 2012 Feb 8.Rowe A1, Ramzan I.
  1. Kava hepatotoxicity solution: A six-point plan for new kava standardization. 2011 Jan 15;18(2-3):96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2010.10.002. Epub 2010 Nov 26.  Teschke R1, Sarris J, Lebot V.
  2. Kava hepatotoxicity solution: A six-point plan for new kava standardization. 2011 Jan 15;18(2-3):96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2010.10.002. Epub 2010 Nov 26.  Teschke R1, Sarris J, Lebot V.
  3. Single-Lab Validation for Determination of Kavalactones and Flavokavains in Piper methysticum (Kava). Planta Med. 2018 Nov;84(16):1213-1218. doi: 10.1055/a-0637-2400. Epub 2018 Jun 25.  Liu Y1, Lund JA2, Murch SJ2, Brown PN1.

 

  

*This product nor any of these statements is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure disease and has not been evaluated by the FDA. Not recommended for pregnant or nursing women. Ask a healthcare professional before use if you have had liver problems, frequently use alcohol or are taking any medications. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and does not establish a doctor-patient relationship. These therapies are not substitutes for standard medical care. Consult your physician before taking this or any other product.