September 12, 2023

Is Kava Smoking Safe?

Kava is an herb that can be brewed into a tea to produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria. It can also be smoked to produce a more potent body high. However, smoking kava has not been studied to determine what additional byproducts are produced when it is smoked. It is important to understand the risks of kava before trying it to ensure that it will be safe for you.

Although kava is non-addictive, it can be habit forming and may lead to the development of a tolerance. This can cause a person to feel addicted to the drug and have withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it. In addition, a person can experience hepatotoxicity from long-term use of kava. This is characterized by elevated levels of liver enzymes (ALT and AST) and can result in hepatitis, cirrhosis or even liver failure. In the majority of cases, hepatotoxicity is associated with co-ingestion of kava and alcohol.

This study will evaluate a new product, AB-free kava, in an attempt to help reduce tobacco consumption and lung cancer risk among adult smokers. The trial will include adult participants from UF Health Family Medicine clinics who will be randomly assigned to either a placebo or a kava arm of the trial. Participants will be exposed to the kava for 4 weeks. Blood will be collected for safety and biomarker evaluation at screening, baseline, and on days 4 and 7 of kava exposure.

Nicotine is a harmful and addictive substance that contains more than 70 known carcinogens. In contrast, kava has been shown to decrease the urge to smoke and improve sleep quality among adults who continue to smoke.


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