Is Kava Legal? Kava Laws State-by-State

Kava is a popular traditional drink in many parts of the world, especially in the Pacific Islands. However, it can now be found in the United States in various forms, including tea, tinctures, and powder.

As kava has become more popular, it has sparked debate over its legal status in many countries. In this guide, we will explore the regulation of kava in the United States, including the legal status of kava and any potential health risks. 

Related Link: Kava for Anxiety Guide: Benefits & Dosage

Kava in the United States

The legal status of Kava in the United States is somewhat complicated and can vary depending on the specific use and form of the substance. First, it is crucial to understand what kava is and where it comes from. Kava, also known as kava-kava, is a plant native to the western Pacific islands, including Fiji, Vanuatu, and Tonga.

The plant's roots are used to create a drink with sedative and anesthetic properties. Kava has been used for centuries by Pacific islanders for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. 

Kava is available in various forms in the United States, including dried roots, capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts. It is commonly marketed as a natural alternative to prescription anxiety medications.

However, the use of kava has been the subject of controversy and debate due to concerns about its safety and potential health risks. 

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Kava & The FDA

In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a consumer advisory warning about the potential risks of using Kava-containing products. This warning was based on reports of liver toxicity in some individuals who had used Kava products.

The FDA reviewed the available scientific evidence on the safety of kava. The agency concluded that there was not enough evidence to support using kava to treat anxiety or any other medical condition.

As a result, the FDA does not approve using kava as a medication or dietary supplement in the United States. The advisory also stated that kava might cause liver damage and should be used cautiously. Despite this, kava is not currently a controlled substance under federal or state law, meaning it is legal to possess and use in the United States. 

Since the FDA has not approved its use as a medication or dietary supplement, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before using Kava products and to be aware of the potential risks and side effects.

Kava Laws WorldWide

Most of Europe, South Africa, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan totally outlawed kava around 2002. This was caused by many reports of possible liver damage from kava consumption. Although they are uncommon, liver injuries are frequently severe.

These reports have included symptoms such as jaundice, increased liver enzyme levels, severe hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure, with four of them leading to death and seven requiring liver transplants. 

As a result of these reports, British retailers even consented to voluntarily restrict the supplement while studies into its safety were being completed. Afterwards, Britain's Medicines Control Agency asserted that kava should be banned and that warning labels would be ineffective.

The commercial sale of kava kava-containing goods in Britain was banned, after the advice of Britain's Medicines Control Agency. To this day, one of the only nations that continues to forbid the sale of kava products is Britain. 

Throughout the same time as these reports, many other nations around the world briefly banned kava. After it was discovered that other medications taken along with kava were the primary cause of liver damage, these were later proven to be false.

Since then, numerous studies have demonstrated that kava is safe when taken as directed and in the absence of recognized liver disorders, drugs that are known to be liver-toxic, or alcohol.

A few countries within the European Union repealed the restriction, and within a few years, Canada and Japan did likewise, permitting the sale and importation of kava. Some nations such as South Africa and Australia have not updated their legislation. 

Related Link: How to Make Kava Taste Better

Potential Health Risks

While kava has been used for centuries in many cultures, it is not without risk. It is important to understand the potential health risks associated with kava consumption before deciding whether or not it is right for you. 

Short-Term Risks of Kava Consumption 

The most common short-term side effects of kava consumption are digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Additionally, some people experience headaches and dizziness when drinking kava.

Additionally, if taken in large doses, kava can cause impaired motor skills and a feeling of lethargy or drowsiness. Therefore, it is important to use caution when consuming kava and be aware of your body's reaction to it. 

Long-Term Risks of Kava Consumption 

Kava has also been linked to more serious long-term health risks including liver damage and liver failure. While this risk appears to be rare, studies have found that heavy drinkers of kava are at increased risk for developing these conditions due to the toxic chemicals found in the plant itself. 

Do you have any questions about kava? Reach out to us today!

The Legalities of Kava

Globally, the legal status of Kava can be somewhat confusing and can vary depending on the specific use and amount of the substance in each country. In the United States, Kava is currently completely legal to drink and possess. Now that you know all about the legalities of kava, be sure to check out our online store to try some for yourself.  

Related Link: Does Kava Get You High? What to Know

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