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FDA Declares Kratom to Be an Opioid: New Reports

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that kratom will be classified as an opioid, as compounds found within the herbal supplement exhibit qualities of powerful and dangerous opiates. The substance has been popular in recent times for its opioid-like properties and effects, and has a high potential for abuse by those who are in early recovery from addiction.

Kratom, which comes from a tropical evergreen tree, has been touted for its “natural” pain-relieving effects. Although the substance climbed in popularity, little research had been performed about its supposed healing properties.

Today, the FDA has made a ruling on kratom’s effectiveness in treating pain and other conditions.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated that, “Kratom should not be used to treat medical conditions, nor should it be used as an alternative to prescription opioids. There is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use.”

Recent research shows that kratom has similar effects on the brain to those that occurring during opioid use. The agency also stated that 44 documented deaths associated at least partially with kratom use have occurred.

The DEA moved to classify kratom as a controlled substance last November, but withdrew that intention after facing public backlash. Currently, the substance is only listed as a “drug of concern.”

Kratom, which is often consumed in the form of tea or capsules, is largely regarded by the public as a safe and natural herb, taken to treat conditions such as anxiety or depression. While kratom-related deaths are often in connection with other substances, the FDA has warned that its potency and risk is not to be underestimated, particularly as new research continues to come to light.

“Cases of mixing kratom, other opioids, and other types of medication is extremely troubling because the activity of kratom at opioid receptors indicates there may be similar risks of combining kratom with certain drugs, just as there are with FDA-approved opioids,” said Gottlieb of combined risk.

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