July 11, 2019 — A new study has linked the herbal supplement kratom to at least 4 deaths and hundreds of reports of severe side effects.
The study was published in Pharmacotherapy by lead author William Eggleston at Binghamton University in New York — “Kratom Use and Toxicities in the United States.”
Scientists found that kratom was linked to severe side effects, such as seizures and death, as well as symptoms similar to withdrawal from opioids when users stopped taking kratom.
The researchers looked at 2,312 cases of people who used kratom and reported side effects, including 935 people who were only using kratom and no other substances when they were injured.
The most commonly reported side effects were:
- Agitation (18.6%)
- Rapid heartbeat (16.9%)
- Drowsiness (13.6%)
- Vomiting (11.2%)
- Confusion (8.1%)
The most severe reported side effects were:
- Seizure (6.1%)
- Withdrawal (6.1%)
- Hallucinations (4.8%)
- Breathing problems or respiratory depression (2.8%)
- Coma (2.8%)
- Cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest (0.6%)
The County Medical Examiner’s Office in New York State also reported 4 deaths where kratom was listed as the cause of death or a contributing factor.
The researchers said that kratom “may have a role in treating pain and opioid use disorder,” but warned that consumers should not use kratom until more safety studies are completed:
“Our findings suggest kratom is not reasonably expected to be safe and poses a public health threat due to its availability as an herbal supplement.”
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