FDA Declares Kratom An Opioid

kratom fdaWe’ve blogged about Kratom in the past, but now the FDA is chiming in on the subject. According to the FDA, Kratom is more than a plant, it is an opioid.

“As the scientific data and adverse event reports have clearly revealed, compounds in kratom make it so it isn’t just a plant — it’s an opioid,” said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “And it’s an opioid that’s associated with novel risks.”

Kratom, which has been credited with giving users feelings of euphoria, strength and pain relief, has now been linked with 44 deaths. Aside from its obvious dangers, the FDA decided to classify the plant as an opioid because the drug taps into some of the same brain receptors as opioids.

The Dangers of Kratom

Like a number of drugs in their infancy, the dangers of kratom stem from the fact that we haven’t had much time to scientifically study the substance. Despite never gaining approval from the FDA, kratom was advertised as a concentration booster and workout enhancer in largely unregulated supplements. Because of its properties, it also made its way into the pain management community as a potential option for individuals with chronic pain. And ironically, it’s also been touted as a treatment option for opioid addiction.

“Patients addicted to opioids are using kratom without dependable instructions for use and more importantly, without consultation with a licensed health care provider about the product’s dangers, potential side effects or interactions with other drugs,” Gottlieb said in a previous statement.

Now that we’ve had more time to study the substance, researchers are realizing just how dangerous unregulated kratom use can be. After studying the chemical structures of the 25 most prevalent compounds in kratom, researchers discovered that they all shared similarities with opioids like derivatives of morphine. Moreover, two of the five most prevalent compounds in kratom latch onto the brain’s opioid receptors, just like other opioid painkillers do.

“The new data provides even stronger evidence of kratom compounds’ opioid properties,” Gottlieb said.

Some states have already taken steps to ban the substance, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Minnesota followed suit in short order. Kratom is already banned in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

At the end of the day, we have to remember that there is no miracle pill that can cure us of our pain or treat our opioid addiction. Trust that doctors have your best interests at heart, and that clinically tested and proven methods are best.

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Thomas Cohn, MD

Interventional pain doctor helping Minnesotans manage back, neck, foot, and other pain. Board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with additional board-certification in pain management from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP) and the American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM).

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