Role of ethanol in kava hepatotoxicity

Phytother Res. 2010 Apr;24(4):475-80. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3046.


Kava is known for its recreational, ceremonial and medicinal use in the Pacific. The aqueous non-alcoholic drink of kava rhizome produces intoxicating, relaxing and soothing effects. While kava's medicinal effects receive worldwide recognition, kava-containing products came under scrutiny after over 100 reports of spontaneous adverse hepatic effects. Many mechanisms have been postulated to explain the unexpected toxicity, one being pharmacokinetic interactions between kavalactones and co-administered drugs involving cytochrome P450 enzyme system. Alcohol is often co-injested in kava hepatotoxicity cases. This review evaluates the possible hepatotoxicity mechanisms involving alcohol and kava.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology*
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Kava / adverse effects*
  • Kava / chemistry
  • Kava / metabolism


  • Ethanol