Is Kava or Kratom Safe During Pregnancy? Tea, Root + More

Photo of author

Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

Published on

BabyFacts logo

Native to the Pacific islands, kava is becoming a popular tea in the United States, especially in kava bars. However, is kava safe for women to consume during pregnancy? 

Unfortunately, kava and kratom are not safe to consume during pregnancy.

Kava has been deemed “Possibly Unsafe” and should be avoided in all forms including tea, roots, and powder. 

Let’s discuss more information about kava, including its popular counterpart kratom, and the health implications of consuming this beloved drink during pregnancy. 

Is Kava Safe During Pregnancy? 

Consuming kava in any form during pregnancy is not safe. Let’s learn more about why!

Kava is also known as kava kava, kawa, ava pepper, or ava root (source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health [NCCIH]). Kava tea is becoming more and more popular with kava bars popping up as well.

man selling kava powder

Typically, kava is used to treat anxiety and insomnia. However, research has only shown the benefits of reducing anxiety. More research needs to be conducted to determine if kava is effective in counteracting insomnia and other health conditions. 

However, the American Pregnancy Association has deemed kava as “Possibly Unsafe”. Therefore, it is recommended that if you would like to take kava during pregnancy, you should first speak with your physician about the possible risks. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recognize kava as one of the substances that are “Generally Recognized As Safe” or GRAS, due to the risk of liver injury including: hepatitis, cirrhosis, and even liver failure (source: National Institutes of Health).

In fact, the FDA released a consumer advisory in 2002 against the consumption of kava.

Therefore, it should be avoided in all available forms including: tea, root, and powder. 

Is Kratom Safe When Pregnant? 

Kratom is also unsafe for pregnant women to consume. Similar to kava, kratom is an herbal supplement that many praise for boosting mood, relieving pain, and reducing fatigue. 

kratom leaves, powder, capsules and tablets

Kava bars often serve kratom, an herb extract with roots in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, kratom is not safe, even for those who are not pregnant (source: Mayo Clinic). 

Additionally, since dosing is inconsistent due to the varying amount of active ingredients, it is difficult to discern exactly the effect of taking kratom. It is a popular option for opioid withdrawal, however, the evidence does not support the safety or efficacy of this usage. 

It is best to avoid kratom in all forms and dosages, even if you are not currently pregnant. Let’s talk more about the possible risk and side effects of kava and kratom below. 

Risks and Side Effects of Kava Root or Kratom When Pregnant

Kava and kratom have many very serious side effects and risks, especially for pregnant women. These side effects can result from the consumption of any herbal product containing these compounds, including the teas, roots, and powders of these herbs and their extracts. 

Let’s start with kava. Research shows that kava is linked with liver injury that can lead to death (source: NCCIH). Additionally, kava consumption can cause unpleasant side effects including dizziness, an upset stomach, headache, and more. Even more serious side effects can occur with long-term kava consumption at high doses. 

kava drink in a bowl and kava powder in a spoon

Additionally, kava may be especially unsafe to pregnant and breastfeeding women because of the pyrone content (source: NCCIH). 

Now let’s discuss the side effects of kratom. Many have reported experiencing seizures, high blood pressure, and even kratom withdrawal (source: Mayo Clinic). Kratom has many other side effects that are especially dangerous to pregnant women including weight loss, liver damage, vomiting, and more. 

A pregnant woman who has taken kratom can give birth to a baby with symptoms of kratom withdrawal (source: Mayo Clinic). Additionally, research has not demonstrated any benefits of taking kratom.

It is also important to note that many tea blends advertised as stress relief may contain kava or kratom. It is best to completely avoid these natural products as well. 

If you are looking for a safe way to relieve stress, you can try lavender tea or lemon balm tea.

In conclusion, I hope you found this article helpful in breaking down the information behind consuming kava and its dangers during pregnancy.