What's new

Kava Fact of the Day Kava and Cholesterol.

Kapmcrunk

The Kaptain (40g)
KavaForums Founder
Kava fact of the day: Kava’s effect on cholesterol.

Today we’re going to touch on the proposed effect of kava to raise cholesterol levels in heavy kava drinkers. Several studies over the last two decades have found increased levels of LDL and HDL in kava drinkers. The author responsible for the bulk of this research and these studies is Alan Clough. In these papers by Clough, he addresses kava usage in Arnhem Land Aborigines in Northern Territory Australia ([1],[2]). In these studies it was found that a dose dependent relationship existed between increases in HDL and LDL and aqueous (“traditional”) kava consumption. Cholesterol was found significantly higher for current kava users than for non users and recent users. HDL and LDL were significantly higher in current kava users. Triglycerides were not significantly affected between the groups [3].

table1cornaryrisk.png


2354pt09jix61.jpg


In a study on rats from 2011 researchers fed them a wide range of dosages of kavalactones for 14 weeks. These dosages ranged from zero for control, to 2g per kilogram of body weight. Interestingly a concentration level of .125g/kg was also used which would correspond more closely to “real world” type kava consumption. I say “closely” here, and that corresponds to around 7 grams per day of kavalactones if a human were taking it. This dose falls into the range of kava exposure we see in Fijian kava circles [4]. Attached table 2 shows these varying dosages along with changes in various cholesterol levels at different time scales [5]. As you can see, the 2g/kg levels produced the most changes, however this level is impossible to reach in a normal setting. The .125mg/kg column would more closely correlate to what we might see on an individual level. This chart shows the dose dependent relationship between increasing amounts of kavalactones, and increasing levels of cholesterol.

How does this apply to me?

If you drink kava on a daily basis you could see some of your HDL, LDL and cholesterol numbers rise in your metabolic tests. Is this a cause for concern? Currently I personally find myself in this group with raised numbers. I’ve tested high two times in a row over the span of a year. My BMI is 19 and I don’t eat crazy fattening food. Every year I make sure to stress those numbers to my doctor, and every test I’ve been told that the numbers were higher, yes, but not enough for concern. I’ve also attached the results (2/6/2021 & 1/19/2020) from my own personal metabolic test for comparison to what the doctor said was not concerning currently. In the doctor’s own words “Though the cholesterol level is elevated, your 10 year risk of heart disease remains low at 2%. Therefore, you do not need a cholesterol lowering statin medication.” When it boils down, it’s important to see your doctor for regular checkups and health screenings. While kava is a fantastic plant, it does have its limitations, and it’s always best to err on the side of caution and be aware if any issues do arise. My results attached represent 15 consecutive years of daily kava drinking effects.


2021 Results

2020 Results



[1] Clough A. Enough! or too much. What is 'excessive' kava use in Arnhem Land? Drug Alcohol Rev. 2003 Mar;22(1):43-51.
https://doi.org/10.1080/0959523021000059820.

[2] Clough AR, Rowley K, O'Dea K. Kava use, dyslipidaemia and biomarkers of dietary quality in Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory (NT), Australia. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;58(7):1090-3.
https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601921

[3] Clough AR, Jacups SP, Wang Z, Burns CB, Bailie RS, Cairney SJ, Collie A, Guyula T, McDonald SP, Currie BJ. Health effects of kava use in an eastern Arnhem Land Aboriginal community. Intern Med J. 2003 Aug;33(8):336-40.
https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1444-0903.2003.00405.x

[4] Bian, Tengfei, Pedro Corral, Yuzhi Wang, Jordy Botello, Rick Kingston, Tyler Daniels, Ramzi G. Salloum, et al. 2020. “Kava as a Clinical Nutrient: Promises and Challenges.” Nutrients 12 (10).
https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12103044.

[5] Behl, Mamta, Abraham Nyska, Rajendra S. Chhabra, Gregory S. Travlos, Laurene M. Fomby, Barney R. Sparrow, Milton R. Hejtmancik, and Po C. Chan. 2011. “Liver Toxicity and Carcinogenicity in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice Exposed to Kava Kava.” Food and Chemical Toxicology: An International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association 49 (11): 2820–29.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2011.07.067.



RIP Mike Munsell. Your memory lives on forever.
 
Last edited:

Orz[EST]

Kava Enthusiast
Red rice extract is the mainstream cholester-lowering supplement. There are many others ranging from well known to experimental & obscure.

If HDL/LDL ratio is normal or good, then the slightly elevated cholesterol may not be as bad.

Statins do not seem do be 'very safe' drugs to take, more like 'moderately safe'.

It seems that you may find the references without great difficulty.
 

Orz[EST]

Kava Enthusiast
My educated guess is that kava:cholesterol is related to liver. Mainly or not -- no studies answer this AFAIK.

The supplements that are likely to support liver are few: taraxacum officinale (dandelion), silymarin (milk thistle active ingredient), boron, N-acetylcysteine, ALCAR, molybdenum perhaps but not neccessarily, and Urtica dioica or stinging nettle (haven't read much about the latter, independent research is very much advised and note that it combines well elwith blood thinning herbs like garlic that happens to be anti-atherogenic).
 
Last edited:

Aloha Kava

Aloha Kava Guy
Kava Vendor
Thank you for this. Cholesterol is a strange subject; with the rise of low carb and keto, more research is being done which (from my offhand knowledge of it) suggests it's not more cholesterol that's the issue, it's the ratio of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. Complicating it even more is the possibility that it could be the type of LDL that's the issue, not the total amount. I don't have extensive knowledge on the subject, but like everything nowadays, it seems less clear cut. That said, a doctor and/or nutritionist's opinion should be our chief concern when we think about our health.
 

Aceofwands9

Kava Enthusiast
Nope, not going to think about this. :)
Yeah, totally. I think i'd just rather eat healthier and continue to drink as much kava as i want to. It helps that i believe kava encourages this as i find myself avoiding greasy or sugary foods in order to avoid any nausea associated with drinking kava.
 

fueledbykava

Kava enthusiast
Wait though, the data seems to show that cholesterol actually decreases over the span of time in which the rats were fed the kavalactones, doesn't it? i.e. day 4 to 23 to week 14, the cholesterol numbers actually go down for every kavalactone amount. Where does the data show that KLs increased overall cholesterol counts?
 

Kapmcrunk

The Kaptain (40g)
KavaForums Founder
Wait though, the data seems to show that cholesterol actually decreases over the span of time in which the rats were fed the kavalactones, doesn't it? i.e. day 4 to 23 to week 14, the cholesterol numbers actually go down for every kavalactone amount. Where does the data show that KLs increased overall cholesterol counts?
Nice! I'm getting checked on these. I really do seriously appreciate that.

While that chart does show dose dependent increase, it doesn't do a very good job at illustrating it. Here's something better. I've added the correct table in the original FOTD.
 

Attachments

fueledbykava

Kava enthusiast
Ah interesting, yep that supports the cholesterol raising hypothesis, assuming proper controls were done and all that. I've become intimately involved with monitoring what I ingest over the last couple of weeks as my cholesterol (particularly LDL) levels have skyrocketed over the last 2 years (I skipped a physical during the covid outbreak). However there are multiple factors in my life that have changed; my gym closed down so my weekly physical activity has gone down, I started cooking less, and I started drinking Kava. I'm now attacking it from all angles (nutrition, physical activity) to drive it down.
 

fueledbykava

Kava enthusiast
Also, yep I see the dose dependent increase now in Table 2, it definitely does play a factor. I was just more concerned with the temporal aspect of it which clouded my view of the dose dependency, passage of time aside. Thanks!
 
Top