Kava Kava

Kava Kava of course you know, is a herb (root) that has been used for centuries as a ceremonial beverage in Malaysia and Polynesia which more recently (for more or less ten to fifteen years) has gained massive distribution in western countries, prepared in dry and extract form and sold in capsules or tablets.

After reports of liver damage allegedly associated with Kava Kava, several countries all over the world have banned its sale, apparently as a reaction to the dangers that have been associated by some health authorities with its consumption. The adverse event reports originated mainly in Germany, Switzerland and the US.

The UK association NAHS (National Association of Health Stores) has prepared a submission which charges that the adverse reaction reports in the possession of various governments are not reliable evidence, in most cases, that Kava Kava had anything to do with the reported health problems. The submission also charges that to prohibit Kava Kava is completely out of proportion with the severity of the problem.

There is also a notable disproportion with the handling of other substances, for instance the medicinal product "zyban" which has a similar calming effect as Kava Kava. Zyban's use has resulted in many more and much better documented adverse reaction reports than Kava. In the UK alone, some 60 people have died from consuming it, but the Medicines Control Agency does not much more than shrug off the deaths as "suspected adverse reactions with a fatal outcome".

Talk about a double standard. The pharmaceutical product can do no harm, at least the authorities seem not in any way concerned, while the natural alternative which (that's really the crime) threatens the profits of the pharmaceutical "remedy", is taken off the market.

The attached files are submissions to the FSA (Food Standards Agency) and the MCA (Medicines Control Agency) in the UK, which clearly show the regulators' bias in the Kava Kava matter. Regulation is not supposed to distort competition. After all, our health can only suffer if we permit economic considerations to override proper risk assessment and risk management procedures.

- Risk proportionate regulation for the sale of foods containing or consisting of Kava-kava
- MLX 286: The NAHS Response

Josef Hasslberger