Kava Kava’s Cancer Support Potential

Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in The Mind of Makaira | 2 comments

Kava Kava's Anti-Cancer PotentialAloha, dear readers: it is with a joyous heart that I bring to you the latest research into kava kava’ s potential benefits for supporting two types of cancer. Yes, you read that right—not only can it relieve the burden of chronic stress* (and its known detriments to health), researchers now think kava kava may have cancer support potential!! This news could be revolutionary for how we handle one of the most dreaded diagnoses of the modern age.  I am absolutely elated at the findings and am waiting eagerly to hear the results of further studies! In fact, I may even need to calm down with a little kava after posting this article.

DISCLAIMER:  We are NOT making ANY medical claims for Kava whatosever.  We are simply providing an article regarding a study that makes some bold claims for Kava in relation to cancer.

The two independent studies below examined kava consumption as a potential explanation for the low rates of lung and bladder cancer in the South Pacific Islands, despite historically high smoking rates among these populations. Tobacco smoking is known to dramatically increase one’s chance of developing lung and bladder cancer, so Pacific Islanders’ low rates of these cancers are obviously worth investigating! Both research studies examined the kavalactones and other active compounds in kava root to determine if they might have a protective effect against these cancers.

The first study comes from Dr. Xiaolin Zhi at the University of California Irvine: his team examined the effects of a specific kavalactone, flavokawain A, on cancerous bladder cells in mice; they found that flavokawain A encouraged precancerous cells to undergo apoptosis, a fancy term for cell death [1]. This is really exciting news! One of the factors that leads to the appearance of tumors is that cancerous cells don’t undergo cell death and can start proliferating uncontrollably. It seems flavokawain A may stop this process in its tracks for certain cancer cells!*

Dr. Zhi’s team also observed no signs of toxicity in the mice given flavokawain A, which is an important factor for anything used medicinally. It’s also more than can be said for plenty of chemotherapy drugs currently used to treat cancer, which can have truly nasty side effects and cause illness all on their own.

The second study focused on the effects of kava kava on lung cancers that result from smoking cigarettes. Smoking tobacco is a major risk factor for developing lung cancer, increasing women’s risk of a diagnosis 13-fold and men’s risk 23-fold. The study, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy and Texas Tech, demonstrated that a preparation of several kavalactones prevented 99% of the tumors predicted to develop in mice used to model the behavior of lung cancer in humans [2]. 99%!! The researchers speculated that kavalactones may protect DNA from being damaged by the carcinogens in tobacco, which might explain this astonishing rate of tumor prevention in the test mice*.

Currently, the team is working on isolating the compounds in kava that may be correlated with these anti-cancer effects, as well as establishing purity standards for the kava material used. Of course, they were quick to dissuade readers from turning to commercially available kava supplements based on concerns about their safety and purity…long debunked concerns, I might add! When it comes to pure kava root that contains no stems or leaves, and is prepared without chemical solvents, there are ample studies demonstrating that kava kava is perfectly safe. By all means, standardize the kava extracts used in research studies—but in my opinion, it doesn’t make much sense to discourage people who want to improve their health and potentially guard against cancer by taking kava root or a kava extract*, as long as it’s produced according to exacting purity standards such as we’ve always used at Kona Kava Farm.

Of course, anyone using kava medicinally for any condition should always partner with a physician knowledgeable about kava kava to monitor their health, just as they would for any medicine. Yet I know that many people, myself included, would prefer to access the whole energy of kava root rather than an isolated subset of kavalactones in a pill or extract. The way I see it, if one or more kavalactones has anti-cancer potential*, why not take all of them in the form of the whole kava root and hedge your bets?

Aloha no,



1. Vasich, Tom. “Can Kava Cure Cancer?” UC Irvine News, Accessed April 9th, 2014. http://news.uci.edu/features/can-kava-cure-cancer/

2. “Preliminary study in mice suggests possible lung cancer preventative effect of South Pacific herb.” January 8th, 2014. PR Newswire. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/kava-may-help-prevent-lung-cancer-in-smokers-say-university-researchers-239200161.html

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to cure, treat, diagnose, or prevent any disease. 

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  1. Just to be ultra-clear; we’re not stating that Kava can cure cancer by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the FDA comes down quite hard on those who make such claims. All we’re hoping to do with this post is to pass on research that has some extremely promising and interesting results that involve Kava. The researchers are making some bold claims, but we do not endorse any of their claims or findings, nor do we claim any cancer fighting qualities to any of the Kava products we offer here on Kona Kava Farm.

  2. Wow! I’ve been drinking for awhile now but I never knew that it can heal cancer. Thanks for sharing this very helpful information to us!

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