At this time, it is not known whether kava and pregnancy are a safe combination. As a matter of fact, there are significant concerns that the herbal supplement may not be safe for anyone, pregnant or not. Kava could decrease uterine tone, which can cause problems during or after labor and delivery. If you are taking kava and pregnancy occurs, notify your healthcare provider immediately.
An Overview of Kava and Pregnancy
Kava(Piper methysticum) is an herbal supplement. It is often used to treat anxiety, but it is claimed to be useful for other conditions as well. As with most supplements, it is not known whether kava is safe for use during pregnancy.
Is Kava Safe for Pregnant Women?
It is not known whether kava is safe for pregnant women. There are no reliable studies that show that kava is safe (or unsafe), since kava has not been adequately studied in any pregnant women or animals.
Many women try to avoid medications in pregnancy and turn to herbal remedies as an alternative, assuming that "natural" automatically means "safe." However, natural products can be quite toxic. For instance, many poisons and toxins are natural products. There are significant concerns that kava may not be safe for anyone, pregnant or not. There have been numerous reports of serious liver injury due to kava. Some of these cases were severe enough to require liver transplantation.
There are also concerns that kava may decrease uterine tone, which could cause problems during or after labor and delivery.
If you are pregnant, it is always a good idea to ask your healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplement. You and your healthcare provider can consider the possible risks and benefits of using kava in your particular situation, as well as any other treatment alternatives.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed February 21, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: kava (May 2006). NCCAM Web site. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/kava/. Accessed February 21, 2008.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Kava-containing dietary supplements may be associated with severe liver injury (3/22/2002). FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/addskava.html. Accessed February 21, 2008.
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