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Q: Kava Extract, Depression, and Weight Gain ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Kava Extract, Depression, and Weight Gain
Category: Health
Asked by: mimitang81-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 19 Jan 2005 20:08 PST
Expires: 18 Feb 2005 20:08 PST
Question ID: 460192
Is there ANY chance AT ALL that taking kava extract (to treat
depression) will CAUSE me to gain ANY weight AT ALL?  Yes or No.
Any supporting details you can provide on "Yes" or "No," whatever
comes with $15, is appreciated.
Note: This question comes after many hours of reading conflicting
reports on SSRI's and weight gain.  I am now looking for alternative
routes.  I am already aware that Germany has discovered it damages the
liver.  I know that the FDA has issued a warning against it.  At this
moment, however, I simply want to know the answer to the above-stated
If you answer this question, you are helping a lot.

Request for Question Clarification by pinkfreud-ga on 19 Jan 2005 20:22 PST
In a preliminary search, I've not found anything about weight gain as
a side effect, but there are several references to possible weight
loss. Would such references be of interest to you?

Clarification of Question by mimitang81-ga on 20 Jan 2005 05:33 PST
I would love it.  Thank you so much.
Subject: Re: Kava Extract, Depression, and Weight Gain
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 20 Jan 2005 10:29 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
As I mentioned, the use of kava (also known as kava-kava) is not
associated with weight gain, but there are numerous mentions of weight
loss in connection with this substance. I've gathered some excerpts
from online articles for you. It should be noted that some of these
refer to the drinking of a kava-based tea infusion rather than to the
consumption of a commercially manufactured extract, but the active
chemical ingredients are the same.

In collecting this information, I have omitted many references to
potentially dangerous health effects related to liver toxicity, since
you have stated that you are aware of that risk.

"Although Hawaiian healers used kava for dozens of purposes, there is
no question that its use to induce relaxation is not culture-specific.
Tests on animals show that extracts of the drug-but no single
identified compound-cause muscle relaxation to the point that animals
fall out of revolving cages. Methysticin and DHM protect animals from
muscle convulsions due to strychnine. Kava was used in Hawaii to
reduce anxiety, bring on sleep, counteract fatigue, and treat asthma,
arthritis pains, and urinary difficulties. Kava appears to act as a
diuretic, and the root was even used as a weight loss agent. Medical
tests suggest it may be helpful in treating psychosomatic symptoms in
menopause. Kawain acts as a local anesthetic, numbing the lips and
mouth. Food eaten after ingesting kava drink cannot be tasted."

Herbs 2000

"However, long term use of kava leads to a range of health problems
including malnutrition, weight loss and apathy."

Better Health

"The study found that in addition to causing acute intoxication,
sedation and relaxation, a rash, and weight loss in long-term users,
kava may also cause liver and renal dysfunction, hematological
abnormalities, and possibly pulmonary hypertension."

Erowid Kava Vault 

"Low to moderate use typically causes:




decreased appetite. 

Higher doses are associated with intoxication and include:

reddened and dilated eyes 

decreased co-ordination 


increased sleepiness 

mild analgesia. 

Long-term kava is associated with weight loss, malnutrition, liver
damage and scaly skin. Often health suffers and a disinterest in life,
family, etc. has been reported."

National Drug Policy New Zealand

"Kava is a diuretic. Being a diuretic, it is also used for weight loss."

Suite 101

"Although mild to moderate kava drinkers of kava are not known to have
significant gastrointestinal complications, recent adverse effects
have involved mainly heavy kava drinkers. There has also been
speculation about association of kava drinkers and weight loss. The
possible causes of this have included poor food intake, malnutrition
and the possibility of malabsorption."

Erowid Kava Vault

"Weight loss after using too much Kava extract for too long may occur."


"Kava can also reduce pain, relax the muscles and help with losing
weight... Kava often suppresses the appetite, an effect that was
noticed and written about as early as 1908. It also has a thermogenic
effect on the metabolism, helping the body to burn calories. And
anyone who overeats out of nervousness can calm their nerves with Kava
before meals, enjoy their food more, and experience less of a desire
to overeat. There are already health companies incorporating Kava as
the active ingredient in their weight loss formulas."


"Heavy chronic consumers of kava are more likely to suffer from
general ill health, at times losing up to 50% body fat and 20% of
their body weight. People affected by long term kava consumption are
generally undernourished, perhaps due to appetite suppression and the
fact that some kava drinkers prefer to spend time ingesting the
beverage in stead of nourishing themselves adequately."


My Google search strategy:

Google Web Search: kava "weight loss OR gain"

I hope this information will be useful. If anything is unclear or
incomplete, please request clarification; I'll gladly offer further
assistance before you rate my answer.

Best regards,

Clarification of Answer by pinkfreud-ga on 20 Jan 2005 10:37 PST
One more thing that may be of interest. This is purely anecdotal, but
it's my anecdote, so I know it's true:

I used kava as a treatment for depression and anxiety for about six
months. Although I have battled weight gain in the past (especially
with tricyclic antidepressants), I lost a few pounds while taking

I didn't obtain significant antidepressant effects from kava, so I
stopped using it. It did seem to help a bit with my chronic insomnia.

As they say in the automobile industry, your mileage may vary. 

mimitang81-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
just skimmed it so far, but so far--thank you.  saved me so much time
and grief and effort and looks great.

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