24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
AHA News: More People Are Dying During the Pandemic – and Not Just From COVID-19Antiviral Drugs Tied to Heart Issue in COVID-19 PatientsMost Survivors of Severe COVID-19 Report Symptoms Many Weeks After 'Recovery'Terrifying Delirium Can Strike Hospitalized COVID-19 PatientsCold War Antiseptic May Be Valuable Germ FighterWith Social Distancing, Schools Should Be Safe to Reopen This Fall, Experts SayU.S. Sees Another Record-Breaking Day of New Coronavirus Cases'Aerosol Boxes' Meant to Protect COVID Health Teams Might Harm Them: StudyAHA News: Where Do New Viruses Like the Coronavirus Come From?Blood Test May Reveal Concussion Severity With Accuracy of Spinal TapIn Many Cases, Hip Replacement Also Eases Back Pain'Broken Heart Syndrome' Has Risen During Pandemic: StudyCoronavirus Fears Kept Many Essential Workers at Home in April: StudyExposure to Iodine in the NICU May Affect Infant Thyroid FunctionA Dangerous Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria May Now Lurk in U.S. Water, SoilZika May Have Damaged More Infants' Brains Than ExpectedU.S. Air Pollution Still at Deadly Levels, Study FindsCOVID-19 Outbreaks at Meat Processing Plants Are Hitting Minorities HardU.S. Coronavirus Cases Near 3 Million as Hospitals in Sun Belt Fill Up With PatientsAHA News: Months After Infection, Many COVID-19 Patients Can't Shake IllnessCoronavirus Ups Anxiety, Depression in the LGBTQ CommunityMajor Medical Groups Urge Americans to Wear Face MasksBlack Patients Fare Worse After AngioplastyHow Immune System Fights COVID-19 May Be Key to Vaccine SuccessWill the COVID-19 Pandemic Leave a Mental Health Crisis in Its Wake?New U.S. Coronavirus Cases Hit Another HighMultiple Surgeries for Cleft Lip, Palate Won't Cause Major Psychological DamageHIV May Not Worsen COVID-19 OutlookU.S. Coronavirus Hospitalizations Spiking in South, WestAHA News: To Everything There Is a Season, Including Heart DiseaseAsthma, Allergies Plus Pandemic May Pose 4th of July ChallengesStroke Appears 8 Times More Likely With COVID Than With FluCOVID-19 Death Risk Twice as High in New York City as Some CountriesFireworks Are Bad News for Your LungsScientists Find Source of COVID ClotsNew U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 50,000 as More States Slow Reopening PlansNumbers of Non-COVID-19 Deaths Up During PandemicNo Good Evidence on Accuracy of Coronavirus Antibody Tests: StudyAHA News: COVID-19 Pandemic Brings New Concerns About Excessive DrinkingMuscle Relaxants for Back Pain Are Soaring: Are They Safe?Trauma of Racism Fuels High Blood Pressure Among Black Americans: StudyCOVID-19 Blood Test Might Predict Who Will Need a VentilatorWhat's the Best DIY Face Mask Against COVID-19?Deep Brain Stimulation May Slow Parkinson's, Study FindsU.S. Could See 100,000 New Cases of COVID-19 Each Day, Fauci SaysGlobally, COVID-19 Cases May Stretch Far Beyond Official Numbers: StudyFBI: Beware of Scammers Selling Fake COVID-19 Antibody TestsAHA News: Sadness and Isolation of Pandemic Can Make Coping With Grief HarderVaping-Related Lung Injuries Still Happening -- And May Look Like COVID-19Most With Coronavirus Not Sure How They Caught It: CDC
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Diabetes

Another Study Casts Doubt on Safety of Herbal Drug Kratom

HealthDay News
by By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jul 18th 2019

new article illustration

THURSDAY, July 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The herbal supplement kratom regularly causes serious side effects and doesn't appear safe for use, a new study argues.

Kratom, made from the leaves of a Southeast Asian plant, is usually used to treat pain and addiction. But poison control center data shows it has been tied to seizures, withdrawal, hallucinations, agitation and rapid heart rate, researchers report.

Kratom is "probably not something that's safe enough to be available as an herbal supplement," concluded lead researcher William Eggleston, a clinical assistant professor with the Binghamton University School of Pharmacy in New York.

Kratom contains compounds that act on the opioid receptors in the brain and the body, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

And while it's a legal herbal supplement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already issued a warning against using kratom. The FDA has called the drug "opioid-like" and cited concerns that it might pose an addiction risk.

In the new study, poison control centers received more than 2,300 calls related to kratom between 2011 and 2018.

Those calls increased from 18 in 2011 to 357 in the first seven months of 2018, according to stats drawn from the U.S. National Poison Data System.

The research team zeroed in on 935 cases where kratom was the only substance involved.

About 56% of cases involved kratom taken as a pill, capsule or powder, and in nearly 9 in 10 cases people ate the kratom that had affected them.

The most commonly reported adverse effects were agitation (in almost 20% of cases), rapid heart rate (17%), drowsiness (14%) and vomiting (11%), the data showed.

Severe side effects included seizures (6%), hallucinations (5%), respiratory depression (3%), and coma (2%). Cardiac or respiratory arrest was reported in 0.6% of cases.

The researchers also identified four cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome, where babies were born addicted to kratom after their mothers took the supplement during pregnancy. They said it caused two deaths.

The National Poison Data System statistics indicated that kratom has a lower risk for fatal overdose than opioids like heroin or fentanyl, Eggleston said.

"The risk for things like serious respiratory depression is probably less with kratom than it is with other opioids," Eggleston said. "We saw a very low incidence of this in our data."

However, other studies also have shown that users can experience withdrawal symptoms, Eggleston said.

"That suggests that patients could develop a dependence or a substance use disorder, as you would with other opioids," Eggleston said. "To me, that exceeds what I would consider a reasonable risk for an herbal supplement you can buy at a local convenience store or head shop."

Kratom proponents argue that the new study is flawed because it relies on poison control and medical examiner data, which tags kratom as the main suspect and could fail to consider other possible explanations.

"If a person dies and the tox screen identifies kratom in the bloodstream, that is labeled as a kratom-associated death," said Mac Haddow, a senior fellow on public policy at the American Kratom Association. "It is just as plausible you could identify caffeine in the bloodstream as a result of drinking a cup of coffee that morning."

Susruta Majumdar, an associate professor with the St. Louis College of Pharmacy in Missouri, said the new study adds a bit more evidence regarding kratom's safety, but agreed that its reliance on poison control center data makes for a flawed approach.

Based on available data, Majumdar said, kratom probably is safer that prescription and illicit opioids, but "I think we are getting to a point where we can say it's addictive."

Majumdar added that he believes kratom-related deaths are not caused by kratom alone, but kratom combined with other substances.

"People are on multiple drugs, and it's the synergy between those drugs that is causing the toxicity," Majumdar said.

Eggleston said he does not advocate a ban on kratom, since studies suggest it might have a role in treating chronic pain and addiction.

Instead, clinical trials are needed to assess kratom's usefulness and establish its safety at certain doses, Eggleston said.

"Our research is not coming from a place where we want to hinder access," Eggleston said. "We want the public to have all the information they need and be transparent, so they know what works and what's safe."

The study findings were published July 9 in the journal Pharmacotherapy.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about kratom.