July 2021

Kratom Troubles Keep Coming

Despite efforts to list the kratom constituents mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, kratom is still not a controlled substance in the US. Some individual states, including Alabama and Arkansas, have banned it – but it remains legal in most. At the federal level, the main fight is to keep it out of dietary supplements. Here’s the latest.

Kratom is a tree native to Southeast Asia. Its constituents are thought to work like opioid drugs such as codeine and morphine to relieve pain. Despite claims that it can be used to help with opioid withdrawal, these claims are not supported by evidence, and kratom has many of the same serious safety concerns as other opioids. Kratom support groups have managed to keep the DEA from officially scheduling it, but the FDA is stepping up its efforts to keep the ingredient out of supplement products. At the end of May 2021, the FDA seized over 207,000 units of kratom dietary supplements and bulk dietary ingredients. The FDA is able to take these steps because it considers kratom to be a New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) with serious safety concerns – manufacturers cannot legally include it in dietary supplements. Seized products include Boosted Kratom, The Devil’s Kratom, Terra Kratom, Sembuh, Bio Botanical, and El Diablo.

This legal battle is likely to continue. Make sure patients understand that regardless of how the product is marketed, or its legal status, kratom carries serious safety concerns. Any use runs the risk of abuse, overdose, and possible death. To learn more about specific safety concerns and side effects, check out our monograph.

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