6 Things to Know About Kratom

Kratom 1

Kratom sounds like it could be kryptonite’s second cousin. In fact, it’s an herbal supplement that’s said to have some pretty extraordinary superpowers.

According to its fans, kratom can reduce pain and help drug users recover from addiction. But critics say it’s a dangerous opioid just like heroin and oxycodone, and they want the federal government to ban it. Some states and cities have already done just that.

Here’s a look at six things to know about kratom:

Kratom’s benefits are unproven

Firm information about its benefits and risks is elusive. Much of what we know about kratom is based on the individual experiences of users, not evidence-based research.

Kratom has side effects and can be addicting

According to the Mayo Clinic, which recommends against kratom use, the drug can cause a variety of side effects such as weight loss, vomiting, liver damage, hallucinations, seizures, constipation, and muscle pain. According to researchers, higher doses of kratom appear to translate to more side effects.

No one knows for sure if kratom is a killer

In 2018, the FDA announced that it had 44 reports of deaths linked to kratom. Many — if not all — of the reported deaths linked to kratom occurred in people who used other drugs that may have played a role. Therefore, the risk of death among kratom users is unclear, and no one knows if it’s more significant than the risk of death in people who take other drugs like aspirin, antidepressants and legal painkillers.

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a stark warning in a statement: “Kratom should not be used to treat medical conditions, nor should it be used as an alternative to prescription opioids. There is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use.”

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