BACKGROUND: Recently, potential liver toxicity was discussed with the intake of kava extract preparations (Piper methysticum) as anxiolytic drugs. The aim of this study was to test chronic toxicity in rats by oral application of an ethanolic kava full extract. METHODS: Wistar rats of both sexes were fed 7.3 or 73 mg/kg body weight of ethanolic kava extract for 3 and 6 months. The animals were examined for changes in body weight, hematological and liver parameters, and macroscopical and microscopical histological changes in the major organs. RESULTS: No signs of toxicity could be found. CONCLUSIONS: The results are in accordance with the medical experience regarding the use of kava preparations and the long tradition of kava drinking in the South Pacific island states. Specifically, the results do not back the suspicion of potential liver toxicity.
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