Very recently there has been a beautiful transition within the kava community! The decision to place a ban on kava kava and kava-containing products was overturned by Germany’s Federal Administrative Court!!
A ban was placed in 2002 on kava kava and products containing kava, throughout Germany. What could initiate such a ridiculous ban in the first place you may ask – well, the answer has a lot to do with studies done by the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte, or “BfArM”). BfArM published a series of studies back in the mid 2000’s that propelled a ton of dramatized media and the circulation of misinformation surrounding the topic of kava and liver toxicity. The studies published findings that were said to evidence the claims that kava causes liver toxicity. Sadly, the conclusions of these studies were taken at face value and many countries invoked bans on the import and sale of kava and kava-containing products.
It’s pretty remarkable that these studies did have such an influence, considering the rapidly increasing body of research and case studies that were proving kava to be a wonderful natural option for remedying anxiety symptoms. These negative studies were almost simultaneously surfacing alongside studies declaring the benefit and need for kava in the European world, and yet many bans were emplaced. At the time this odd simultaneity caused conspiracy theories to circulate about the possible influence of pharmaceutical giants who had an interest in suppressing the kava market. While those theories have been neither proven nor disproven, it is certainly very possible considering how very natural, non-chemical and beneficial kava was proving to be; at the time, kava was already starting to put quite a dent in the pharmaceutical money pool.
Of course, many kava enthusiasts were incredibly unhappy about these bans – and doctors, researchers and health practitioners went to work to fight for the restored image of kava kava. One pressing point that encouraged these researchers and enthusiasts was how Vanuatans and other island populations had been drinking daily doses of kava for centuries and had no reported issues relating to the problems that the BfArM studies were declaring. Many studies have been done, and are still being done, that point out areas of flawed research practice and inconclusive evidence within the BfArM and related studies; and thank the kava gods for that – most of the bans that had been emplaced have since been lifted!
I’ve done a bit of tinkering around on the worldwide web and it seems that the ban was partially repealed in Germany back in 2005. At that time Mathias Schmidt, PhD, a kava researcher and scientist, said the following: “We are glad that the discussion is now re-opened, and we hope to finally come to a constructive dialogue with the BfArM”.
So, given all of the recent news circulating about a current repeal of the ban on kava in Germany – this does leave me a bit confused. My guess is that there has been further development in the repeal and that now residual aspects of the initial ban that lingered after the first repeal have now also been lifted; residual aspects that likely made the sale and import of kava quite problematic.
Dr. Vincent Lebot – an author and researcher on kava – states that the battle for the import and sale of kava in the US and EU, which has greatly affected exports in Vanuatu, has lasted twelve years! So, it does seem that this fight for kava has been an ongoing and transitional phenomenon, with the most recent victory happening in the Federal Administrative Court of Germany: “The court found the risk of using kava was not unusually high and mere doubts over a medicinal product did not justify it being banned.”
As Dr. Lebot says, “it’s a clear victory for all of us who know that when kava is properly used with the right varieties cultivated with the right agricultural practices in a reasonable way, we know that it’s not a dangerous product.”
I think it’s probably the grandest victory of all for the South Pacific Island communities, many of whom rely on international kava trade and export to survive. As product sales in the EU, United States of America, Canada, and elsewhere continue to escalate and become more fluid and less legally problematic, export out of the South Pacific Islands will increase and the island communities will greatly benefit in so, so, so many ways! Not only are the loving benefits of kava being spread worldwide – but also, pressing financial needs and socioeconomic conditions in the island nations will be significantly appeased.
On that note, I will once again send many thanks to the kava spirits and mythical gods for these victories and can only hope for many more to come!!
Radio New Zealand: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/246963/german-court-overturns-kava-ban
Kona Kava Farm: http://www.konakavafarm.com/kava-germany-banned.html
Richter’s Website: http://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=Issues/kava.html