Kratom has ‘deadly hazards,’ FDA warns

Report highlights The botanical health supplement kratom has been used for discomfort, anxiety

Over-the-counter use might expand the opioid epidemic, FDA commissioner says

(CNN) THE MEALS and Drug Administration dealt another blow Tuesday to supporters of kratom, warning about “deadly risks” associated with the botanical supplement frequently used to treat discomfort, anxiety and depression. Kratom also offers opioid-like results — at low doses, it functions like a stimulant; at larger doses, it sedates, dulling pain — which includes also made it common as an over-the-counter remedy for opioid withdrawal.

“It’s very troubling to the FDA that people believe they are able to use kratom to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement . “There is absolutely no reliable evidence to support the utilization of kratom as a treatment for opioid use disorder.”

Instead, he stated, the FDA can be involved that the utilization of kratom could truly “develop the opioid epidemic.”

“We’ve discovered a tragic lesson from the opioid crisis: that we must pay early attention to the potential for services to cause dependency and we should take strong, decisive actions to intervene,” Gottlieb stated.

Gottlieb pointed to reviews of 36 deaths associated with kratom, as well as a tenfold increase in phone calls to US poison control centers about the substance between 2010 and 2015. Gottlieb stated kratom has been associated with “serious unwanted effects like seizures, liver harm and withdrawal symptoms.” Furthermore, he said, kratom can be laced with different pain prescription drugs, like hydrocodone, adding to opioid addiction.

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