25 Apr 2005

Fiji doctor wants study of kava abuse

2:13 pm on 25 April 2005

A leading Fiji doctor has called for an investigation into the abuse of kava.

The Fiji Times reports that this follows a study at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva which found that an average consumer drinks about 100,000 bowls of kava in a lifetime.

A senior lecturer at the Fiji School of Medicine, Dr Jioji Malani, has warned that care should be taken so that the promotion of kava overseas does not promote its excessive use locally.

Writing in the Fiji Medical Association Journal, Dr Malani says negative health effects within Fiji would negate any short and long term benefits from kava exports.

Dr Malani says most studies so far have shown mild abnormality in liver function, but they have not linked kava to liver disease when taken in the traditional format, which is in moderation.

He says health professionals are concerned about the increasing adverse effects of kava which is supported by evidence.

Dr Malani says medical reports have linked regular kava use to scaly skin kanikani, watery eyes, increased salivation, weight loss and restlessness.

He says a complete investigation is needed to determine the full impact of heavy kava use.