FDA Analysis Shows Kratom Not "Just a Plant"

Kratom capsules									Joe Raedle  Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration analysis, published Tuesday, makes it more likely that the supplement, kratom, could be banned by the federal government.

"The model shows us that kratom compounds are predicted to affect the body just like opioids", Gottlieb said.

Forty-four deaths have been linked to the drug, according to the agency, and the majority of the cases involve the patient ingesting Kratom with another substance, like alcohol.

The association estimates that 3 million to 5 million people in the United States have used kratom or are doing so.

"Based on the scientific information in the literature and further supported by our computational modeling and the reports of its adverse effects in humans, we feel confident in calling compounds found in kratom, opioids", Gottlieb said.

Dr. Gottlieb concluded that there is no evidence to support kratom's safety or efficacy in any medical use.

Gottlieb said the FDA has been especially concerned about kratom's use to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, and warned against it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an opioid is a natural or synthetic chemical that interacts with opioid receptors.

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Kratom, which is sometimes used for recreation, can produce a feeling of euphoria.

Kratom is now legal under federal law, but FDA inspectors have been seizing and destroying shipments at global mail facilities for months.

Hunter added that some synthetic opioids are derived from materials found in coal tar.

"The last thing our country needs is another opioid", said Dr. Many patients are drawn to the drug to help ease pain, depression or kick and opioid addiction.

Henningfield, who has done work for the nonprofit American Kratom Association, argued late previous year 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.

The FDA analyzed the chemical structures of the 25 most prevalent compounds in kratom. That's because "the activity of kratom at opioid receptors indicates there may be similar risks of combining kratom with certain drugs, just as there are with FDA-approved opioids", Gottlieb said.

The herbal supplement is sold in the form of pills, powders, capsules, crushed tea leaves, even energy drinks, found anywhere from gas stations to small street shops.

"When you take it, there's a noticeable relief [of pain]; it's not a high", said Kyle Van Pelt, 26, who takes kratom for chronic pain from a back injury.

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