Herbal supplement kratom contains opioids, regulators say

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The FDA has now received reports of 44 deaths that have been associated with the drug, and released documentation on 36 of those cases today. The scientific data and adverse event reports have "clearly revealed" that compounds in kratom render it more unsafe than "just a plant", he said.

"We recognize that many people have unmet needs when it comes to treating pain or addiction disorders", he said.

"There is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use", Gottlieb said, adding that consumers using kratom for pain relief could seek other "safe" non-opioid options.

For getting rid of opioid addiction, some people use kratom supplement as home remedy, while others just use for fun.

The FDA has submitted its review to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is considering whether to place kratom in the same category of illegal drugs as heroin and LSD. This model and previously available experimental data confirmed that two of the top five most prevalent compounds (including mitragynine) activate opioid receptors.

To analyze the chemical structure of kratom's compounds, the FDA used a computational model called the Public Health Assessment via Structural Evaluation (PHASE) methodology.

In a statement released on November 14., 2017, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said "kratom has raised significant concerns given its increasing prevalence and potential safety risks". "Further, as the scientific data and adverse event reports clearly revealed, compounds in kratom make it so it isn't just a plant-it's an opioid", Dr. Gottlieb said in the statement.

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

More than one-third of the poison center calls reported use of kratom in combination with other substances, such as illicit drugs, prescription opioids or over-the-counter medications, the CDC said.

In addition to being marketed as a concentration booster and workout enhancer in largely unregulated supplements, kratom has been advertised as a replacement for opioid painkillers.

Based on the new FDA new research, along with information from previous studies and reports of harmful effects tied to kratom, "we feel confident in calling compounds found in kratom, opioids", Gottlieb said in a statement. At least one of the chemicals may also have some addictive properties.

"For individuals seeking treatment for opioid addiction who are being told that kratom can be an effective treatment, I urge you to seek help from a health care provider", Dr. Gottlieb added.

"Just because it binds, it doesn't mean it has the same efficacy" as an opioid, Hemby explained. "People would find that unacceptable".

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