Merck

Fatal kavalactone intoxication by suicidal intravenous injection.

Forensic science international (2015-02-17)
Raimo A Ketola, Jenni Viinamäki, Ilpo Rasanen, Anna Pelander, Sirkka Goebeler
ABSTRACT

Kavalactones are a group of compounds found in kava, a beverage or extract prepared from the rhizome of the kava plant (Piper methysticum). Traditionally kava extracts have been used for their anxiolytic and sedative properties. Sales of kava extracts were severely restricted or prohibited in European countries in 2002 following several cases of serious hepatotoxicity. Here we report a case where high concentrations of kavalactones and ethanol were detected in post mortem femoral blood. An injection needle with a 10-mL syringe containing 7.5 mL of slightly yellowish liquid was found next to the victim, and there were numerous needle prints on both lower arms following the venous tracks. No evidence of other cause of death was found in the medico-legal investigation. The case was therefore classified as suicide using an injection of kavalactones intravenously together with alcohol poisoning.

MATERIALS
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