Health experts advise avoiding this popular supplement because it may harm the liver

Health experts advise avoiding this popular supplement because it may harm the liver

Under the right circumstances, nutritional supplements can do a lot of good for your health. For example, if you're not getting enough essential nutrients directly from the foods you eat, using vitamins to fill in any gaps – such as vitamin D for bone health – can be one great way to keep your body performing at its best. capacity. However, it is always important to consider any potential risks.

Some supplements may have serious side effects when taken in excess or with other medications. There's one stress supplement in particular that health experts say you should be wary of, because it can negatively affect your liver and lead to other risks: kava.

The dangers of kava

Kava is a popular natural supplement known for its ability to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. It is commonly added to tea, can be taken as a supplement or extract, and comes from a root called Piper methysticum. Although it may be able to calm your nerves, Dr. Wong warns that it can be harmful to your health and safety if you're not careful. “Research has indicated potential risks associated with kava consumption, the most significant of which is liver damage,” she says.

As Dr. Wong explains, it is known to reduce the body's levels of an important antioxidant called glutathione, and it can also limit the effects of enzymes in the liver that help the body metabolize medications. This may be especially harmful if you have a history of liver damage. “Some individuals have reported cases of liver toxicity,” she says. In simple terms, hepatotoxicity is liver damage that is caused by medications and herbs like kava.

If you're still interested in trying kava to keep stress to a minimum, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of liver damage. In general, the same rules apply to any supplement or medication you take, starting with the fact that you should talk to your health care professional beforehand.

“It is essential to discuss any new supplement or approach with a licensed health care professional to ensure safety and effectiveness for individual needs,” says Dr. Wong. This is important, she stresses, "especially if you have pre-existing liver disease or are taking medications that may interact with kava."

It is also important to stick to the recommended dosage for any supplement you put into your body. “Limit the dosage and duration of use, as taking it for a prolonged or excessive period may increase the risk of adverse effects,” Dr. Wong says of kava.

In addition, you should take measures to ensure that you are taking reliable, high-quality nutritional supplements. “Choose reputable sources to ensure the product is high quality and free of contaminants,” says Dr. Wong.

With kava, it is also especially important to limit your use of alcohol and other potentially harmful substances, as this may exacerbate the risk of liver damage.

Overall, it's always a good idea to be careful when taking herbal supplements. When it comes to kava, anyone who currently suffers or has suffered from liver damage in the past should stay on the safe side by avoiding the supplements altogether. Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to manage stress, including meditation, regular exercise, and a healthy sleep schedule.

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