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article imageFDA is warning Americans to stay away from kratom

By Karen Graham     Nov 15, 2017 in Health
At a time when we have hit a critical point in the opioid epidemic, the FDA has found that patients believe they can use kratom to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, and this is cause for concern because of the drug's side effects and risk of death.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a public health advisory issued on Monday, is warning that kratom, a Southeast Asian plant known for its opiate-like effects, may put users at risk of addiction and even death.
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is not an opioid, but it can have opioid-like effects. The herb does appear to help in managing chronic pain and overdoses reported in the U.S. have shown minimal signs or symptoms, which resolved rapidly with no residual disability.
The FDA reports it is aware of 36 deaths associated with the use of kratom, although the agency isn't saying over how long a period of time the 36 deaths occurred. However, data shows 10 times more calls to poison control centers regarding kratom between 2010 and 2015.
American Kratom Association/Twitter
The agency also cites reports of kratom being laced with other opioids like hydrocodone. The use of kratom is also associated with serious side effects like seizures, liver damage, and withdrawal symptoms. The FDA is now concerned that the use of kratom, for recreation, pain or other reasons – could expand the opioid epidemic.
Kratom shipments being stopped at border
In 2012 and 2014, the FDA placed import alerts on kratom, allowing FDA agents to detain the products at the border, according to Reuters. Then, in August 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency, (DEA) announced it was temporarily classifying Kratom as a Schedule I drug. Drugs in this class, like heroin and marijuana, are considered to have a high potential for abuse.
Kratom leaves
Kratom leaves
Wikimedia Commons/Manuel Jebauer
The DEA's move caused an uproar on social media and the agency reversed itself. Even so, kratom is a controlled substance in 16 countries, including two of its countries of origin, Thailand, and Malaysia, as well as Australia, Sweden, and Germany. Kratom is also banned in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
In exercising jurisdiction over kratom as an unapproved drug, the FDA has taken action against kratom-containing dietary supplements. The agency has identified kratom products on two import alerts and is working to actively prevent shipments of kratom from entering the U.S. At international mail facilities, the FDA has detained hundreds of shipments of kratom.
More about Kratom, Fda, Deaths, Dietary supplement, schedule 1
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