Side Effects of Kava Kava

Due to reports of very dangerous side effects, the herbal supplement kava kava has been banned in several countries. Some of these potentially serious side effects of the product include spasms, shakiness, and severe liver damage. However, not all kava kava side effects are serious; some are merely bothersome, such as headache, drowsiness, and dry mouth.

Does Kava Kava Cause Side Effects?

As with any medication or supplement, side effects are possible with kava kava (Piper methysticum). In fact, several countries have banned the supplement due to reports of very dangerous side effects. However, not all of the possible kava kava side effects are serious; some are merely bothersome.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with kava kava. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list with you.)

Side Effects to Report

There are a number of potential side effects with kava kava that you should report to your healthcare provider. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Signs of liver damage, such as yellow eyes or skin (jaundice), upper right abdominal pain, or elevated liver enzymes (found using a blood test)
  • Unusual, uncontrollable body movements or spasms
  • Shakiness (tremor)
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as a rash, hives, itching, swelling of the mouth or throat, wheezing, or difficulty breathing.
The most serious kava kava side effect is liver damage. Many people dispute the validity of such reports (claiming that these cases of liver damage may be due to something other than kava kava); however, there have been many such cases in numerous different countries. Several countries have completely banned the use of kava kava. In the United States, the FDA has issued a warning about possible liver damage due to kava kava.
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Kava Kava Herb Information

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