The dangers of kratom supplements
Sandra Hermiston and Ross McLaughlin, CTV Vancouver
Published Wednesday, March 28, 2018 6:00AM PDT
For many years, the leaves of the kratom tree have been used in Southeast Asia to treat aches and pains. In North America, it’s marketed in the form of a powder, pill or tea. And despite the fact Health Canada hasn’t authorized it for sale, it’s widely available online from vendors outside the country.
“The research that’s been done indicates that people are using kratom to help alleviate chronic pain, to treat mood disorders like anxiety and depression, and in some cases to help wean themselves off of opioids,” explained Jeneen Interlandi with Consumer Reports.
But the U.S. FDA says kratom isn’t just a plant, it’s an opioid, and they warn it can be dangerous, even fatal, associating it with more than three dozen deaths. The CDC also says it may be tied to a recent salmonella outbreak and at this point, it’s recommending people not consume kratom in any form.
Consumer Reports also has concerns about its safety.
“Any given kratom product can be grossly mislabeled. It can be laced with other substances including illegal drugs and prescription medications and it can interact with other medications that you are taking in ways that are really dangerous,” said Interlandi.
The American Drug Enforcement Agency has listed kratom as a “drug and chemical of concern” and at one point wanted to put it in the same category as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, essentially banning it for consumers.
But the American Kratom Association argues that making the substance illegal could drive more people to prescription painkillers or illegal drugs to treat their symptoms. The organization says they’ll support appropriate FDA regulations to ensure the safety and purity of kratom, but not a ban.
“It could be a few months or longer before they render a decision. In the meantime, Consumer Reports really feels that given the lack of regulation, it’s better for consumers to just avoid this product altogether,” said Interlandi.
If you are in pain but looking to avoid prescription painkillers, Consumer Reports says there are a number of options you can consider, including over the counter drugs and alternative therapies like acupuncture. Talk to your doctor about which ones make the most sense for you.