FDA: Herbal drug kratom has 'opioid properties'

  • FDA: Herbal drug kratom has 'opioid properties'

FDA: Herbal drug kratom has 'opioid properties'

The FDA report advises all people to avoid kratom or any pain-relieving products using kratom's active ingredients, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.

"We recognize the need and desire for alternative treatments for both the treatment of opioid addiction, as well as the treatment of chronic pain".

"The American public deserves better from the FDA than what they have given us in their analysis on kratom", said AKA board chairman, Dave Herman. The Public Health Assessment via Structural Evaluation (PHASE) methodology uses 3D computer technology to help simulate how the chemical constituents of a substance (such as the compounds and alkaloids found in kratom) are structured at a molecular level, how they may behave inside the body, and how they can potentially affect the brain.

For their latest report, scientists at the FDA looked at the chemical structures of the 25 most prevalent compounds in kratom.

The PHASE model predicted that some of the kratom compounds bind to receptors in the brain that could contribute to stress, which impacts neurologic and cardiovascular function, corroborating a previous warning that side effects of kratom could cause seizures and respiratory distress. The model confirmed the researchers' suspicions: Two of the five most prevalent compounds in kratom latch onto the body's opioid receptors, just like other opioid painkillers do.

The FDA says there are hundreds of kratom-related calls to poison control each year, increasing ten-fold from 2010 to 2015. "Based on the scientific information in the literature and further supported by our computational modeling and the reports of its adverse effects in humans, we feel confident in calling compounds found in kratom, opioids". The FDA "first put kratom on import alert" in 2012, FDA press officer Lyndsay Meyer told Business Insider in November.

The FDA has documented 44 cases of death where Kratom was a factor. In at least one case, the person who died had no known historical or toxicologic evidence of opioid use except for kratom.

Many point to instances where kratom was mixed with other substances.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb reiterated that there are no FDA-approved medical uses for kratom, which is derived from a plant native to Southeast Asia.

"There is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use", Gottlieb added. The scientific data and adverse event reports have "clearly revealed" that compounds in kratom render it more risky than "just a plant", he said.

However, Hemby told CNN that kratom acts much less effectively than prescription opioids or heroin, and that the total amount of these compounds in the plant as a whole is so low that it's unlikely to lead to abuse or addiction.

Users passionately argue it's a safe alternative to opioids and non-addictive.