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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names:

Generic Name: kava (Pronunciation: KA vah)

What is kava ()?

Kava is also known as Piper methysticum, awa, kava-kava, kew, tonga, ava, ava pepper, intoxicating pepper, kawa, kava pepper, kava root, rauschpfeffer, sakau, tonga, wurzelstock, and yangona.

Kava has been used to induce and improve sleep, and to decrease anxiety, nervousness, stress, and restlessness.

Kava has not been approved by the FDA to treat any disease, and it should not be substituted for prescription medications.

Kava may also have uses other than those listed in this product guide.

What are the possible side effects of kava ()?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop taking kava and seek emergency medical attention if you have liver symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, itching, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Other less serious side effects have also been reported. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you experience

  • morning drowsiness,
  • changes in vision, or
  • upset stomach.

Kava should not be used for longer than three months without a doctor's supervision. The long-term use of kava has reportedly lead to "kawanism", which is characterized by dry, flaking, discolored skin; reddened eyes; a scaly skin rash; puffy face; muscle weakness; blood abnormalities; and feelings of poor health.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about kava ()?

Kava has been shown to cause severe liver injury including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure. Do not take kava if you have liver problems or take medications that can affect the liver. Stop taking kava and seek emergency medical attention if you have liver symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, itching, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking kava. Alcohol may increase your risk of liver damage.

Cold or allergy medicine, narcotic pain medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures, depression or anxiety can add to sleepiness caused by kava. Tell your doctor if you need to use any of these other medicines while you are taking kava.

Kava has not been approved by the FDA to treat any disease, and it should not be substituted for prescription medications.

Kava has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of this product may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds. Some marketed herbal supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.



Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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