36 dead: FDA says beware the herb kratom

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a strong warning to consumers to stay away from the herbal supplement kratom, saying regulators are aware of 36 deaths linked to products containing the substance.

Laurie McGinley of The Washington Post writes consumers are increasingly using the supplement, which comes from a plant in Southeast Asia, for pain, anxiety and depression, as well as symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The herb also is used recreationally because it produces symptoms such as euphoria.  Proponents say it is a safe way to deal with chronic pain and other ailments, and some researchers are exploring its therapeutic potential, including helping people overcome addictions.

But in a statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that there is no “reliable evidence” to support the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid-use disorder, and that there are no other FDA-approved uses for kratom.

Rather, he said, evidence shows that the herb has similar effects to narcotics like opioids, “and carries similar risks of abuse, addiction and, in some cases, death.” He said that calls to U.S. poison control centers involving kratom increased tenfold between 2010 and 2015, and that the herb is associated with side effects including seizures, liver damage and withdrawal symptoms.

  • jqe

    If the bureaucratic wheels stopped here (like it should in a normal, ‘free’ society) – this would be fine. It’s always good to exercise caution with an unresearched substance (comparatively speaking) that’s in a generally unregulated environment.

    However, stopping here is not what the FDA wants or intends to do. Instead, it will push the DEA to attempt to ban again (another example of the fox guarding the hen house) when the FDA’s claims are unsubstantiated.

    For one good counter article, see this Huffington Post article by Nick Wing:

  • FDA IS LYING TO LINE ITS OWN POCKETS! They are in bed with big pharma and are worried it will cut into their profits. Spreading misinformation because of their greed.

    • Melissa Lanteigne

      I wouldn’t be so quick to believe this is a lie I’m laying up in hospital with liver problems since I started using kratom. Everyone is different I didn’t want to believe it could hurt me either but it could have killed me if I didn’t get into hospital my liver enzymes are threw roof, jaundice and never had a prob with my liver in my LIFE act had blood work done days before I started kratom and they were all normal. Be careful and I bought from a well Known vendor.

  • KerstinB

    Nine people i Sweden died between 2009-2010 using O-desmethyltramadol (O-DSMT) together with kratom, the combination is sold under the drug name Krypton