Next Article in Journal
Dietary Fibre from Whole Grains and Their Benefits on Metabolic Health
Previous Article in Journal
Habitual Nightly Fasting Duration, Eating Timing, and Eating Frequency are Associated with Cardiometabolic Risk in Women
Review

Kava as a Clinical Nutrient: Promises and Challenges

1
Department of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
2
College of Pharmacy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
3
Thorne Research Inc., Industrial Road, 620 Omni Dr, Summerville, SC 29483, USA
4
Department of Health Outcome & Biomedical Informatics, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
5
The Association for Hawaiian Awa (kava), Pepe’ekeo, HI 96783, USA
6
Department of Biostatistics, College of Public Health & Health Professions, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
7
Department of Pharmacology, Penn State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA
8
Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These four authors contributed equally to this review.
Nutrients 2020, 12(10), 3044; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12103044
Received: 29 August 2020 / Revised: 21 September 2020 / Accepted: 25 September 2020 / Published: 5 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Phytochemicals and Human Health)
Kava beverages are typically prepared from the root of Piper methysticum. They have been consumed among Pacific Islanders for centuries. Kava extract preparations were once used as herbal drugs to treat anxiety in Europe. Kava is also marketed as a dietary supplement in the U.S. and is gaining popularity as a recreational drink in Western countries. Recent studies suggest that kava and its key phytochemicals have anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects, in addition to the well-documented neurological benefits. While its beneficial effects are widely recognized, rare hepatotoxicity had been associated with use of certain kava preparations, but there are no validations nor consistent mechanisms. Major challenges lie in the diversity of kava products and the lack of standardization, which has produced an unmet need for quality initiatives. This review aims to provide the scientific community and consumers, as well as regulatory agencies, with a broad overview on kava use and its related research. We first provide a historical background for its different uses and then discuss the current state of the research, including its chemical composition, possible mechanisms of action, and its therapeutic potential in treating inflammatory and neurological conditions, as well as cancer. We then discuss the challenges associated with kava use and research, focusing on the need for the detailed characterization of kava components and associated risks such as its reported hepatotoxicity. Lastly, given its growing popularity in clinical and recreational use, we emphasize the urgent need for quality control and quality assurance of kava products, pharmacokinetics, absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and foundational pharmacology. These are essential in order to inform research into the molecular targets, cellular mechanisms, and creative use of early stage human clinical trials for designer kava modalities to inform and guide the design and execution of future randomized placebo controlled trials to maximize kava’s clinical efficacy and to minimize its risks. View Full-Text
Keywords: kava; kavalactone; cultivars; quality control; quality assurance; stress; anxiety; cancer; hepatotoxicity; inflammation kava; kavalactone; cultivars; quality control; quality assurance; stress; anxiety; cancer; hepatotoxicity; inflammation
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Bian, T.; Corral, P.; Wang, Y.; Botello, J.; Kingston, R.; Daniels, T.; Salloum, R.G.; Johnston, E.; Huo, Z.; Lu, J.; Liu, A.C.; Xing, C. Kava as a Clinical Nutrient: Promises and Challenges. Nutrients 2020, 12, 3044. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12103044

AMA Style

Bian T, Corral P, Wang Y, Botello J, Kingston R, Daniels T, Salloum RG, Johnston E, Huo Z, Lu J, Liu AC, Xing C. Kava as a Clinical Nutrient: Promises and Challenges. Nutrients. 2020; 12(10):3044. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12103044

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bian, Tengfei, Pedro Corral, Yuzhi Wang, Jordy Botello, Rick Kingston, Tyler Daniels, Ramzi G. Salloum, Edward Johnston, Zhiguang Huo, Junxuan Lu, Andrew C. Liu, and Chengguo Xing. 2020. "Kava as a Clinical Nutrient: Promises and Challenges" Nutrients 12, no. 10: 3044. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12103044

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop