Kratom unsafe, FDA declares

Kratom is being promoted in some quarters as the latest and great “ethnobotanical”but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it’s not safe for human consumption and warns that some kratom products contain “disturbingly” high levels of heavy metals.

“Among the heavy metals we found were lead and nickel at levels not considered safe for human consumption,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a statement.

FDA scientists tested 26 different kratom products. “While the levels of the specific products we’ve tested so far are not likely to result in immediate acute heavy metal poisoning from a single use, some of these products included levels that, with chronic use, could cause some people to suffer from heavy metal poisoning,” Gottlieb said.

The agency is concerned that there may be other kratom products on the market that also contain heavy metals.

No Approved Use

Kratom is derived from the leaves from the kratom tree (Mitragyna speciosa), which is native to Thailand, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. The botanical’s popularity has been increasing in the United States, with those who take it and manufacturers claiming it can help treat pain, anxiety, depression, and more recently, opioid withdrawal.

Earlier this year, an analysis of kratom by FDA scientists found that its compounds act like prescription-strength opioids, as reported by Medscape Medical News.

The scientific data and adverse event reports have “clearly revealed” that compounds in kratom make it “not just a plant — it’s an opioid,” Gottlieb said in a statement back in February. “Claiming that kratom is benign because it’s ‘just a plant’ is short-sighted and dangerous,” he added

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.