The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday issued a statement discouraging the use of the herbal supplement kratom to fight the painful symptoms of opioid withdrawal, Reuters reported. The FDA linked 36 deaths to the use of the supplement.
Users of kratom, a natural plant native to Southeast Asia, admit to varying degrees that the plant can create dependency issues. Advocates claim that it helps people kick opioid addictions and treat chronic pain. The agency's statement Tuesday provides little detail about kratom's connection to the 36 cited deaths, though it does note that there have been increased reports of kratom being laced with opioids.
Kratom has been labeled a controlled substance in 16 different countries and is banned in six U.S. states. The FDA said that because the plant binds to the same receptors as opioids do — giving users similar pain-killing effects and feelings of euphoria — it too can be dangerously addictive.
In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that it would reclassify the plant as a Schedule 1 drug with no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse, but the agency reversed its decision after public outcry. Kelly O'Meara Morales