Herbal remedy kava-kava withdrawn

by Deborah Condon

The herbal remedy kava-kava is being voluntarily withdrawn from the Irish market immediately, following a number of reports of serious adverse reactions in parts of Europe, the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) has said.

The IMB is advising the public to immediately discontinue the use of any products containing kava-kava. It is also recommending that anyone with concerns about potential side effects from the use of these products should discuss their concerns with their GP.

The Kava plant.

The decision was taken in the interest of protecting public health, following reports from Germany and Switzerland which linked kava-kava to a number of adverse reactions, the IMB said. These included over 30 cases of liver damage, some of which required liver transplant and one of which resulted in a fatal outcome.

"While to date there have been no reported cases of liver damage associated with kava-kava in Ireland, it is prudent to remove these products from the market to ensure consumer safety", the IMB said.

Kava-kava is used for its relaxing and calming effects and is available through health food stores and pharmacies nationwide. It can also be used in the treatment of bladder and digestive tract problems.

Symptoms of liver damage include jaundice (yellowing of the skin), fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

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