FDA: Kratom Compounds Contain Opioid Properties

Kratom capsules									Joe Raedle  Getty Images

However the American Kratom Association claims the FDA is biased towards Kratom.

Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a plant in the coffee family that's native to Southeast Asia.

The US Food and Drug Administration warned the public once again on the use of the herbal supplement kratom in a statement on Tuesday.

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". "It's an opioid. And it's an opioid that's associated with novel risks because of the variability in how it's being formulated, sold and used recreationally".

Despite failing to ever gain FDA approval, kratom has continued to be available for sale online and in stores - including inside a vending machine in Arizona.

One of the worst, Gottlieb said, was that people who had serious mental or physical health issues might be treating symptoms with kratom but not addressing the root causes. Many even say it's a tool that can be used to treat addiction.

Those two uses are what Gottlieb appears to see as the most troubling.

FDA scientists analyzed the 25 most common chemical compounds in kratom and concluded that they behave like those found in opioids including morphine. All of those compounds, they discovered, shared structural similarities with opioids like derivatives of morphine.

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Almost all of kratom's major compounds bind to opioid receptors in the human brain, and two of the top five most prevalent compounds activate those receptors, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

Scott Gottlieb announced the results of new research suggesting that kratom compounds affect the body just like opioids do. For example, calls to poison centers regarding kratom increased tenfold between 2010 and 2015, rising from 26 to 263, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The FDA previously placed kratom products on import alert to prevent them from entering the country illegally and has seized several batches. To date, the agency says kratom has been linked to 44 deaths, up from 36 reported in November.

But those deaths are not as simple as they may seem.

"These reports underscore the serious and sometimes deadly risks of using kratom and the potential interactions associated with this drug", the FDA said.

Kratom is only banned in five states right now, and remains legal here in NY.

"We're continuing to investigate reports, but the information we have so far reinforces our concerns about the use of kratom". In 2016, the DEA proposed a ban on kratom but backtracked under pressure from some members of Congress and outcry from kratom advocates who said it could help treat opioid addiction. The scientific data and adverse event reports have "clearly revealed" that compounds in kratom render it more risky than "just a plant", he said.

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