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Kratom linked to serious side effects and deaths in a new study

A liquid preparation of kratom, also known as Mitragyna speciosa
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Kratom, an herbal remedy, often touted as an alternative treatment for opioid withdrawal or chronic pain, is becoming more publicized. This week, scientists have published even more research showing that the plant is linked to reported adverse effects, such as seizures and deaths. Some people also seem to undergo withdrawal when they do not take kratom, much like conventional opioids.

The researchers looked at data from the National Poison Data System, which lists calls made to the 55 poison control centers in the United States. They discovered that just over 2,300 people had called a center fearing that their recent use of kratom was causing illness. Of all these exposures, the most commonly reported symptoms were agitation (18.6%), rapid heart rate (16.9%), and drowsiness (13.6%). But there were also more serious symptoms such as seizures (6.1%), hallucinations (4.8%) and coma (2.8%).

They also reviewed death certificates from the New York County County Medical Examiner's Office and found four deaths for which the coroner had indicated that kratom was a cause or contributory factor in the death.

"The use of kratom is increasing and is associated with significant toxicities," wrote the authors, who published their work in the journal Pharmacotherapy.

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The results of this study are similar to those published last February, which also included calls for poison control on the use of kratom. As with this study, this study found that kratom appeals have become much more common in recent years. The study also follows a report published in April by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that linked the use of kratom to 91 deaths between July 2016 and December 2017.

The Food and Drug Administration has conducted an aggressive campaign against people using kratom, citing CDC data as well as its own research suggesting that kratom behaves functionally as an opioid in the brain. Kratom supplements, they also warned, can be contaminated with heavy metals and have been linked to outbreaks of foodborne germs Salmonella.

The present study also found that some traits suggest the opioid nature of kratom, with approximately 6% of calls complaining of withdrawal symptoms, similar to what happens when opioid-dependent people suddenly stop taking them. .

Advocates of using kratom have criticized this information, claiming that many kratom-related deaths were actually due to the multiple drugs found in the person's system or pre-existing substance abuse disorder, rather than the kratom itself. even. And this study also deserves caution. Poison calls, for example, are an imperfect means of determining the adverse effect of a particular drug because they depend on a person's subjective experiences reported to a person over the phone.

Some parts of the government have lobbied for kratom to be classified as controlled substances in Table I, which would prevent anyone from legally using the plant. The FDA is also attacking retailers and distributors who are blatantly selling kratom supplements for the treatment of health problems, including cancer. But until now, the agency responsible for such an initiative, the Drug Enforcement Agency, has not yet made a final decision.

Some researchers, while calling on people to avoid advertised kratom products with obvious medical benefits, are not so sure that kratom can not be an effective treatment for opioid disorders in some people. And the relatively small industry of kratom has tried to control itself somewhat. But the authors of the study say that people should stay totally away from kratom, at least until we know more about its potential health risks and ways of getting rid of it. warn them.

"Kratom may play a role in the treatment of pain and opioid use disorder, but further research is needed on its safety and efficacy. Our findings suggest that it should not be available as a herbal supplement, "said lead author William Eggleston, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Binghamton University's New York, in a statement.

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