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Reason For Random Kava Toxicity Remains A Mystery

July 13, 2011: 12:00 AM EST
A meta-review by Danish and U.S. researchers of 85 studies on kava toxicity has failed to clear up the mystery of why some people can consume it safely while others become ill. Kava has been used without adverse effects as a sedative for centuries by Pacific Island cultures. Within the last twenty years, the substance has been used in the West as an herbal supplement to treat anxiety, emotional stress and sleep problems. However, reports of liver damage among Westerners began to surface in 2001, and some countries have banned or regulated kava. Numerous studies have tried to find out why kava sometimes has toxic effects, and several theories have been offered. But this meta-review found no consensus on the reasons for kava toxicity.
Line R. Olsen, et al., "Constituents in Kava Extracts Potentially Involved in Hepatotoxicity: A Review", Chemical Research in Toxicology, July 13, 2011, © American Chemical Society
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