Antonio Manaytay – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The Food and Drug Administration has warned of “deadly risks” associated with the use of kratom as treatment and cure for serious medical conditions because it has the same effects as opioid.
“It’s very troubling to the FDA that patients believe they can use kratom to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said, adding: “There is no reliable evidence to support the use of kratom as a treatment for the opioid disorder.”
The FDA said it “is concerned about harmful unapproved products that have been crossing our borders in increasing numbers.” If taken at low doses, kratom acts as a stimulant but it is like a sedative if taken at higher doses. In some cases, the botanical supplement is used by some users for its euphoria-like effects.
Touted as a “safe treatment with broad healing properties,” the botanical supplement comes from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea where it grows naturally.
Kratom supporters argued that is safe because it is plant-based. Its use includes treatment of pain, anxiety, and depression – conditions that should be properly diagnosed and oversight by licensed health care provider.
The agency said kratom has been found to have “similar effects to narcotics like opioids and carries similar risks of abuse, addiction and in some cases, death.”
“At a time when we have hit a critical point in the opioid epidemic, the increasing use of kratom as an alternative or adjunct to opioid use is extremely concerning,” the FDA in a statement said.
The FDA stressed the use of kratom in the absence of diagnosis and supervision of health care professionals is alarming. There were already 36 reported deaths associated with the use of products containing kratom while other side effects were reported such as seizures, liver damage, and withdrawal symptoms.
“If the proponents are right and kratom can be used to help treat opioid addiction, patients deserve to have clear, reliable evidence of these benefits,” the agency said. As of the moment, however, there is no evidence to prove that the use of kratom is safe and does not exacerbate the opioid crisis.
Sixteen countries, including Thailand and Malaysia where it originated, have already classified kratom as a controlled substance. Several states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and others have pending legislation to ban it.
Meanwhile, the FDA has classified kratom and other kratom-containing supplements as an unapproved drug.
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