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Does Kava interact with any drugs?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on May 20, 2023.

Official answer


Talk to your doctor before using kava. There are over 260 drug interactions with kava, and some of them are serious and may cause liver toxicity or breathing problems. Kava should not be used with alcohol or other drugs or herbs that can also cause liver toxicity or respiratory depression.

It is important to tell your doctor about all the medications you use, including prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Drug interactions

The use of buprenorphine (Buprenex, Butrans, Suboxone), a maintenance treatment for opiate addiction, with kava can lead to serious side effects such as respiratory distress (trouble with breathing), coma or even death. A similar effect may occur with other medications that also cause central nervous system depression.

Products containing kava may cause liver problems, and taking them with alcohol can increase the risk.

  • Call your doctor immediately if you have fever, joint pain, bleeding, skin rash or itch, appetite loss, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, stomach pain, dark colored urine, light colored stools, and/or yellowing of the skin/eyes; these may be signs of liver toxicity.
  • In addition, central nervous system side effects of kava such as dizziness and drowsiness may be increased by alcohol.
  • Avoid driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how kava affects you.

Kava, native to the South Pacific, is a member of the pepper family. Kava herbal supplements are used by some people to improve sleep, decrease anxiety, and tame nervousness, stress, and restlessness, among other uses.

There are many other possible kava supplement interactions, so be sure to review all possible drug interactions and speak with your healthcare provider.

Learn more: Drug interactions with kava (in more detail)

This is not all the information you need to know about kava for safe and effective use and does not take the place of your doctor’s directions. Review the full product information and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.

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