Kratom: A Herbal Supplement Full of Dangers


What is Kratom?

Kratom is a tropical evergreen found in parts of Asia including Thailand and Malaysia as well as others. The herb grows from a tree and can be made into a pill, chewed, smoked, or boiled. Natives to the area where it’s naturally found claim it to be addictive. After studies and research, the FDA has confirmed this assessment and said that Kratom is like an opioid.

What’s Happened with Kratom?

Recently, Clinical Toxicology published a study by researchers in Ohio. It showed that between 2011 and 2017 the poison control centers received 1,800 calls about Kratom exposure. More importantly, they noted that in 2011 only 13 calls were made while by 2017, the number was up to 682. Some other facts:

  • 35% of calls made to the poison control center ended with medical treatment.
  • 52% of calls made involved serious medical outcomes including tachycardia, hypertension, and even death.
  • 71% of the calls were made about Men.
  • 89% of all calls were about someone over 20 years old.
  • 86% of people that were exposed were at a home.
  • 69% of the 48 children exposed were under 2.

“Kratom use has been associated with a variety of serious medical outcomes, from seizures and coma in adults to severe withdrawal syndrome in newborns. … Individuals who choose to use kratom need to be aware of the potential risks. Just because it is currently classified as an herbal supplement does not mean it is regulated or that it is safe.” said co-author Henry A. Spiller, MS, DABAT.

Why is it Out There?

The DEA lists Kratom on its drugs and chemicals of concern list a few years ago. Additionally, the FDA has never put regulations on the drug. Added together, this means that this unregulated and unadvised herb as widely ranging qualities, purities, and concentrations. However, what makes this even more dangerous is it’s perception as a herbal supplement.

It’s easy to purchase on the internet as anything from a gum or raw leaf to a capsule or extract. If you take a low dose, you might experience a stimulant, while higher doses could give you a depressant effect. It can also cause euphoria as with an opioid.

Due to this diversity of effects, it has been used for pain as well as depression and anxiety. Additionally, researchers saw this being taken as an at home treatment for inflammation and even to enhance sexual function.

What’s Being Done?

To remind people of the dangers of the “herbal supplement,” the FDA has issued two separate public health advisories. They’ve also expressly states that there are no medical or scientific studies on the health benifets of Kratom.

Meanwhile, the DEA is working to determine how to best keep the public from what could be a safety hazard. They’ve looked into adding Kratom as a Schedule I substance in the Controlled Substances Act; however, only time will tell how their ongoing research will play out. Until then it’s banned locally in a handful of states and cities in the country.


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