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University of Sydney researchers find new evidence linking kava to liver damage
Date:2/22/2008

In recent years, serious concerns about the dangers of kava and the effects on the liver have resulted in regulatory agencies, such as the US Food and Drug Administration and Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration, banning or restricting the sale of kava and kava products.

Originally from Fiji, where kava drinking is common, Professor Iqbal Ramzan, Dean of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney, Australia, had previously published articles on the adverse effects of kava, and wanted to investigate further the effects kava had on the liver.

His findings are published in the January 28, 2008 edition of the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Leading a team of researchers from the University of Sydney, Professor Ramzan spent one year investigating the cellular effects of kava on the liver. Kava has been used in ceremonies and for recreational and social purposes in the South Pacific since ancient times, much like alcohol, tea or coffee is in other societies today.

In the 1980s other medicinal uses for kava began to emerge and it was marketed in herbal form as a natural way to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, tension and restlessness, particularly in Europe and North America.

More recently, evidence began to emerge about the adverse affect kava could have on the liver.

To test these theories, the University of Sydney study focused on the major kavalactone (the ingredient in kava believed to affect the liver) -- kavain -- and investigated the effects it had on the ultrastructure (or biological structure) of the liver.

This required the use of electron microscopes (which enable the examination of the interior of cells) provided by the Australian Key Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis at the University of Sydney under the direction of its Deputy Director, Professor Filip Braet.

The study found that following kavain treatment the liver tissue displayed an overall change in structure, incl
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Contact: Jing Zhu
wjg@wjgnet.com
86-105-908-0039
World Journal of Gastroenterology
Source:Eurekalert

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