Canada's Health Food Association (CHFA) has called the national ban on the sale of kava products 'completely unacceptable', and urged the health department to follow the cautionary labelling practice of the US.
CHFA president Donna Herringer claimed that Health Canada did not discuss its assessment with experts in the field of herbal medicine and maintains that the department has no new evidence on which to base their decision.
"Cautions for responsible use can be put on the label, but a full out ban without additional research or confirmed incident is irresponsible on the part of the government," said Herringer. "This is a perfect example of why there is a need for a unique regulatory body for natural products."
The group said that it gave Health Canada a copy of The Waller Report, prepared for the American Herbal Products Association, which reviewed the FDA, German and European cases citing kava and reports of liver damage. The report concluded that "based on the data available to me at this time, there is no clear evidence that the liver damage reported in the US and Europe was caused by consumption of kava."
The CHFA said that the use of kava by the Europeans reporting liver disease may have been a result of using kava in combination with prescription drugs or it may have stemmed from using kava well above recommended levels.
The group cited a recent survey (from the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Therapy 2001) of 400 German medical practices which revealed that 78 per cent of the Kava prescriptions that were written significantly exceed the recommended intake. As the German authorities have not made the case reports public, factors such as dosage or alcohol intake is unknown.
The CHFA added that it also supplied Health Canada with a list of industry experts and practitioners that could help form a review board for kava.
The US has not yet banned the sale of kava, which remains for sale with the addition of cautionary labelling. The CHFA recommended that the same cautionary labelling practice be followed.