The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Defining the effects of kava on the liver

    Kava has been linked to liver damage and death. In fact, the UK banned its use in 2003 for this reason.

    Now, researchers from the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland have produced evidence of the kava effect on liver cells.

    Here’s what they did.

    • The effects of 3 kava extracts on liver cells in culture were studied.

    Here’s what they found.

    • Each showed cell toxicity at the concentrations tested.
    • Kava is toxic to mitochondria (intracellular energy producers).
    • This inhbitis cell respiration, which is needed to make energy.
    • This leads to increased ROS (reactive oxygen species) such as superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radicals.
    • There is a decrease in the mitochondrial membrane potential (integrity) and eventually apoptosis (cell death) of exposed liver cells.

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded, “In predisposed patients, mitochondrial toxicity of kava extract may explain hepatic adverse reactions of this drug.”

    If the levels of kava they studied reflect the levels reached when people take kava, we should figure out who is “predisposed.”

    1/9/08 21:08 JR

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