Medicating with Kava is NOT Worth the Risk

Kava, Depression, Mental Health, Herbal, Botanical

Kava is a fairly well known and utilized herbal remedy for several disorders from anxiety to cancer prevention. The challenge with this herbal is that it also has a very strong tendency to wreak havoc in multiple systems throughout your body. In addition, there are a host of drug interactions that necessitate extreme caution and vigilance when in use. Conditions from chronic fatigue to Hypertension to Diabetes to high cholesterol can each be adversely affected when Kava and medication are in use simultaneously. This is one herbal that I strongly recommend that the average American NOT use. By the way, Kava has already been banned in a few countries abroad.

First, let’s review what Kava is and how people use it. Kava is a plant whose leaves are made into capsules and teas to treat anxiety and various related conditions.

Orally, it is used to calm the following:






Benzodiazepine Drug Withdrawal




Muscle Pain

Cancer Prevention

What makes kava effective is the kava lactones, which affect the brain and other parts of the nervous system.

When Kava Hurts

Serious conditions including liver damage have occurred, even with short-term use at normal doses. Use of Kava for even just 1 to 3 months has caused the need for liver treatment and has even caused death.

Large amounts of Kava tea can lead people to drive erratically leading to traffic tickets issued under the category of “driving under the influence”.

In other instances, Kava may actually:

  1. Worsen depression
  2. Make Parkinson’s disease worse
  3. Intensify the effects of anesthesia and other meds used during surgery

Stop using Kava at least 2 weeks before scheduled surgery.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Kava may also have the following consequences for nursing mothers:

  1. May affect the uterus.
  2. Some chemicals in Kava can pass into breast milk and might hurt breast fed infants.

Drug interactions and Kava

Below is only a short list of drug interactions to keep in mind IF you are using Kava:

When taking Xanax, Klnopin, Lorazepam or donnatal, kava may cause excessive sleepiness.

Also, Kava can produce the following outcomes when taken with these drugs:

  1. Levadopa: Reduced effectiveness (Parkinson’s Disease )
  2. Medications that are detoxified by the liver: Elavil, Valium, Celebrex, Glucotrol, Dilantin, Coumadin-decreased liver processing
  3. Medications that harm the liver: Tylenol, Diflucan, Erythromycin, Dicantin and Stantins-become intensified.

Please note that this is nowhere near an exhaustive list of drug interactions with Kava or side effects. All in all, it is not worth the risk in our assessment to use this herbal element. There are several other natural remedies with far fewer toxic side effects ( i.e.-not likely to contribute to death ) that can be used for any of the conditions of which Kava has been tried.