Official World Health Organization/Natural Standard Report on Liver Damage associated with Kava

Cambridge, MA – August 1, 2007 – The Natural Standard Research Collaboration has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to author Assessment of the Risk of Hepatotoxicity with Kava Products, a publication that explores the controversial threat of liver damage as a result of kava containing products.

The report includes a description of kava and its various preparations and historical uses, as well as interactions and side effects. It provides the details of an investigation into kava’s possible association with hepatic toxicity, or chemically induced liver damage. In addition, Assessment of the Risk of Hepatotoxicity with Kava Products contains safety information as determined by several clinical trials and a case by case analysis of patients who experienced liver damage while using kava products. The report also provides regulatory information, analytical results, and clinical recommendations specific to this issue.

Kava may be linked to several cases of liver toxicity, resulting in its controversial removal from shelves in European countries. Although still sold in the U.S., the FDA has issued a strong warning detailing the potential risks of taking kava. Of the reported cases, many experienced jaundice, or the yellowing of the skin, hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Nearly all of the afflicted patients required liver transplantation.

Kava is derived from the roots of the shrub Piper methysticum, and has been used throughout Europe and the South Pacific for centuries. In the U.S., kava is often sold as a dietary supplement and in pharmaceutical preparations for anxiety patients. More information on the uses, background, and safety of kava can be found at Please click on Products button on the Natural Standard website to purchase the full report from the WHO bookstore: Assessment of the Risk of Hepatotoxicity with Kava Products.

The Natural Standard Research Collaboration is an international, multidisciplinary research group founded by clinicians and researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of California. Natural Standard provides high quality, evidence-based professional and consumer information about integrative therapies to institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, and Mayo Clinic among many others. For more information, please visit


Dr. Catherine Ulbricht
245 First Street, 18th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142 USA
T: 617.444.8629
F: 617.444.8652
[email protected]

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.