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Pharmazie. 2008 Jan;63(1):71-4.

Is the alkaloid pipermethystine connected with the claimed liver toxicity of Kava products?

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  • 1Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology and Phytochemistry, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany.


The pyridone alkaloid pipermethystine has been considered to be responsible for alleged hepatoxicity of Kava products. Investigation of a series of retain samples of finished products from the German market and self-produced extracts from root and stem material of Piper methysticum clearly showed that pipermethystine (1) is absent from all root and retain samples and extracts, with a limit of quantification of 45 ppm. As a positive control, leaves of P. methysticum showed an amount of 0.2% of 1. Thus, if there is any hepatotoxicity, compound 1 should not be the responsible constituent in the case reports with ethanolic extracts produced in Germany.

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