Kava feeding in rats does not cause liver injury nor enhance galactosamine-induced hepatitis

Food Chem Toxicol. 2007 Jul;45(7):1293-300. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2007.01.015. Epub 2007 Jan 26.


Kava, like a number of herbals, has been associated with causing liver damage based on limited evidence. In contrast, the present study found that in rats, 3 mo feedings of two types of kava extracts (an acetone extract and an ethanol extract of the Samoan kava cultivar Ava Laau) at three different doses (31.25, 62.5 and 133 mg/kg diet) produced no liver injury based on serum markers of liver damage (sorbitol dehydrogenase activities, bile acid concentrations, and beta-glucuronidase activities) and serum lipid peroxide readings. In fact, for some measurements and some kava doses, the injury marker readings were below control values. Moreover, for these same parameters, kava feeding did not enhance the effects of the hepatotoxin galacatosamine (500 mg/kg ip); some kava doses even showed modest protection against liver injury. Liver histology analysis showed no signs of kava causing or enhancing liver injury. Thus, this study does not support the concept that kava produces or aggravates liver injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetone / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / blood
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology*
  • Diet
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Synergism
  • Ethanol / chemistry
  • Galactosamine / toxicity*
  • Glucuronidase / blood
  • Kava / chemistry*
  • L-Iditol 2-Dehydrogenase / blood
  • Lipid Peroxides / blood
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Solvents / chemistry


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Biomarkers
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Plant Extracts
  • Solvents
  • Acetone
  • Ethanol
  • Galactosamine
  • L-Iditol 2-Dehydrogenase
  • Glucuronidase