Kava

Generic Name: kava (Not applicable.)
Brand Name: Generics only. No brands available.

Infrequent (possibly fatal) liver disease may occur with use of kava products. Stop using kava and seek immediate medical attention if you develop severe nausea, extreme fatigue, stomach pain, dark urine, or yellowing of the skin, eyes, or nails.


Kava is used for:

Nervousness, trouble sleeping, hot flashes due to menopause, and as a muscle relaxant. Some herbal/diet supplement products have been found to contain possibly harmful impurities/additives. It may have other uses as well. Check with your pharmacist for more details regarding the particular brand you use.

Kava is an herbal product. It is thought to work by mildly sedating the central nervous system.

Do NOT use kava if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in kava
  • you are pregnant or breast-feeding

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: Herbal Supplements & Drugs: Interactions to Avoid

Herbal and Dietary Supplements Deserve Your Attention

Before using kava:

Some medical conditions may interact with kava. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are planning to become pregnant
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have liver problems or a history of depression

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with kava. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Benzodiazepines (eg, alprazolam) because side effects may be increased by kava

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if kava may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use kava:

Use kava as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • This product may be taken with or without food.
  • Dosing depends on the use and the source of the product.
  • Use as directed on the package, unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
  • If you miss taking a dose of kava for 1 or more days, there is no cause for concern. If your doctor recommended that you take it, try to remember your dose every day.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use kava.

Important safety information:

  • Do not exceed the recommended dose or take this product for longer than 3 months without checking with your doctor.
  • Long-term, continuous use of kava may cause red eyes or scaly skin. These are temporary, but the use of kava must be stopped.
  • This product has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe and effective for any medical condition. The long-term safety of herbal products is not known. Before using any alternative medicine, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • This product is not recommended for use in CHILDREN younger than 18 years of age.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Do not use this product if you are pregnant. Do not breast-feed while using this product.

Possible side effects of kava:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Mild nausea.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); blood in the urine; changes in vision; enlarged pupils; lack of coordination; muscle weakness; puffy face; red eyes; shortness of breath; weight loss.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include blood in urine; difficulty moving; severe muscle weakness; shortness of breath; tiredness; unusual drowsiness.

Proper storage of kava:

Store at room temperature away from heat, moisture, and light unless otherwise directed on the package label. Do not store in the bathroom. Most herbal products are not in childproof containers. Keep kava out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about kava, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Kava is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take kava or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about kava. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to kava. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using kava.

Issue Date: April 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.2.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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