Opioid Alternative Kratom Is Actually an Opioid Itself, FDA Warns

Ebony Scott
February 8, 2018

Kratom should not be used to treat medical conditions, Gottlieb said, adding, "There is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use".

Additionally, the researchers found that 22 of the 25 compounds in kratom bind to mu-opioid receptors, and that some of the compounds may bind to receptors in the brain that may contribute to stress responses that impact neurologic and cardiovascular function. In November 2017, the FDA issued a public health advisory on the product to warn consumers about potential risks associated with its use.

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

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

Kratom is now legal under federal law, but FDA inspectors have been seizing and destroying shipments at worldwide mail facilities for months. However, he stated that the agency recognizes that there is still much that is unknown about kratom.

The FDA previously placed kratom products on import alert to prevent them from entering the country illegally and has seized several batches.

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

Studies on kratom have found that at lower doses, the drug has a stimulant effect, while at higher doses, it has an opioid-like sedative effect, according to the Journal of Medical Toxicology paper.

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"The last thing our country needs is another opioid", said Dr.

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.

Scott Gottlieb has declared kratom is indeed an opioid.

After the FDA's November announcement, Jack Henningfield, an addiction specialist who works at the drug policy consulting group Pinney Associates, said that surveys of kratom users suggest that many are taking the supplement to help stop using opioids. It's sold online and in shops as powders and pills, among other formulations, and has been loosely regulated by the FDA.

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

Deaths linked to kratom were also taken into account.

"The new data provides even stronger evidence of kratom compounds' opioid properties", Dr. Gottlieb said.

Other reports by GizPress

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