Kratom, touted as herbal opioid "alternative", actually contains opioids, FDA says

FDA Warns Of Herbal Supplement Kratom Containing Potential Opioid Properties

FDA Warns Of Herbal Supplement Kratom Containing Potential Opioid Properties

Sold in various capsules and powders, kratom has gained popularity in the U.S.as a treatment for pain, anxiety and drug dependence.

Most recently Kratom has been used as a home remedy for opioid addiction, but according to the FDA, the substance is just as addictive, and acts just like an opioid in the brain.

"Kratom should not be used to treat medical conditions, nor should it be used as an alternative to prescription opioids".

Based on the information, the FDA said it feels "confident in calling compounds in kratom opioids".

Depending on who you ask, kratom is either a wonder drug that can safely treat opioid addiction and pain relief, or a significant threat to public health. The agency is now aware of 44 kratom-associated deaths between April 2011 and last December, including one in which the individual had no known "historical or toxicologic evidence of opioid use, except for kratom". That makes definitively labeling kratom as the cause of death impossible.

But Gottlieb warned that claiming it's harmless because it's "just a plant" is shortsighted and unsafe.

However the American Kratom Association claims the FDA is biased towards Kratom. But officials backtracked after a public outcry and pressure from some members of Congress.


"There is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use and claiming that kratom is benign because it's "just a plant" is shortsighted and unsafe", the FDA said in a statement.

The FDA provided that evaluation late past year. Given these effects, there is an "urgent" need to study the abuse potential of kratom, according to the paper said. "The data from the PHASE model shows us that kratom compounds are predicted to affect the body just like opioids".

From this analysis, the researchers concluded that all of the substance's compounds share the most structural similarities with controlled opioid analgesics, such as morphine derivatives.

"Patients addicted to opioids are using kratom without dependable instructions for use and more importantly, without consultation with a licensed health care provider about the product's dangers, potential side effects or interactions with other drugs", Gottlieb said in a previous statement in November.

The announcement drew outrage from kratom consumers who use the plant medicinally, saying the drug has helped them wean off opiates and others to manage chronic pain.

Henningfield, who has done work for the nonprofit American Kratom Association, argued late a year ago that the substance's "overall abuse potential and risk of death isn't anything close to narcotics like opioids", and warned that restricting or banning it could drive some people onto the black market to buy it or push them back to opioids. However, he stated that the agency recognizes that there is still much that is unknown about kratom.

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