Citing multiple overdose deaths and hundreds of calls to poison control centers, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning against using a new herbal supplement known as kratom. Promoted as an alternative to opioid painkillers and as a treatment for anxiety and drug dependence, kratom has gained increasing popularity in the U.S. during the last five years.
The supplement is made from a plant that is native to Southeast. Users have been opposed to any regulation of the plant because they say it may be a safer alternative to opioid painkillers, which is fueling the nation’s current drug addiction crisis. However, the FDA warns about reports of injury, addiction and death linked to kratom and even said that in some cases it is mixed with prescription opioids.
The supplement is still legal around the nation, though some states have banned its use, including Alabama, Indiana, Tennessee, Arkansas and Wisconsin. The supplement can be purchased in capsule or powder form.
In October of 2016, the drug Enforcement Agency decided against adding the plant to a list of illegal drugs due to public complaints, a letter signed by 62 members of Congress and a protest at the White House.