Development of Tolerance to Kava in Mice


P. H. Duffield




Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology


1. The development of tolerance to the aqueous extract of kava, and to the lipid soluble extract (kava resin) was tested in mice. 2. Tolerance to the unknown pharmacologically active ingredient(s) developed very rapidly, given parenterally, in the aqueous extract. A minimally effective daily dose (50 mg/kg) of the aqueous extract for 3 days was sufficient to produce tolerance to a test dose of 150 mg/kg, which is close to the ED50. As tolerance was evident at the first test period it can be assumed to be physiological tolerance. 3. Kava resin decreased spontaneous motility and caused a loss of muscle control. A minimally effective daily dose of kava resin (100 mg/kg) did not produce tolerance to the above effects of a weekly test dose of kava resin (166 mg/kg) within 7 weeks. In a further experiment the dose was raised to 150 mg/kg twice daily and this schedule caused partial tolerance to occur within 3 weeks, but very little further tolerance developed over the ensuing 2-week period. 4. To try to induce learned (behaviourally acquired) tolerance a dose of 166 mg/kg kava resin was injected daily and animals were tested each day while under the influence of the drug. However, even under these conditions, there was no tolerance evident within 3 weeks, when the experiment was terminated. 5. It appears difficult to induce the development of physiological or learned tolerance to kava resin in mice.