October 15, 2021

New Warnings About Kratom With Unproven Medical Claims

The FDA has been warning consumers about dietary supplements containing kratom, a plant native to Southeast Asia, that contains opioids. The plant mitragyna speciosa contains substances that react in the body in a way similar to opioids.


This compound is illegal and controlled in several other countries, including Denmark, Germany, and Australia. Several states and cities in the U.S. also ban it. The FDA states that “there have been no adequate and well-controlled scientific studies involving the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid use withdrawal or other diseases in humans. Nor have there been studies on how this compound, when combined with other substances, may impact the body, its dangers, potential side effects, or interactions with other drugs.”

The FDA has sent warning letters to several kratom vendors for marketing products with scientifically unsubstantiated claims. The labels on those products claim to “relieve opium withdrawals and “treat a myriad of¬†ailments including but not limited to: diarrhea, depression, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stomach parasites, diverticulitis, anxiety, alcoholism, and opiate withdrawal.” Those unproven claims are a violation of federal law.

Public health officials are constantly finding  marketers actively selling kratom-containing products with these types of unsubstantiated claims. These claims can cause serious health risks and may keep some people from seeking appropriate treatment.

In February, the FDA released a statement that the government has learned about deaths involving kratom use. Scientists used a computational model to analyze the chemical structures of the 25 most prevalent compounds in kratom. They found that all of those compounds are similar to morphine derivatives and activate opioid receptors.

In other words, kratom compounds can affect the body “just like opioids.”

The FDA has seized products in the U.S. and have put some imported products on alert to stop them from coming into the country. This research led to a public health advisory issued in February 2017, warning consumers to avoid using dietary supplements that contain kratom. Instead, the FDA urges consumers to seek appropriate medical care from a health care provider.


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