Kratom and Why It Isn’t Approved by the FDA

MastHead Outline
April 30, 2018

There are many modes of opioid addiction treatment that have been quite successful in treating the epidemic in American society. But the herb kratom isn’t on this list. Knowing what it is and why it hasn’t received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) helps you to understand the potential adverse effects of this herbal supplement.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is a tree found only in certain countries in Asia such as Thailand, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. The leaves can be ground up to make tea, or are formulated into tablets or capsules. They can also be eaten raw or made into a liquid. Depending on the dosage, the herb can act as a stimulant or a sedative. People who are advocates of this herb believe that it helps those who suffer from depression, anxiety and pain. Some scientists even believe that it would be effective in treating people who suffer from opioid addiction. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) believes that its use can result in psychological addiction and even psychotic behaviors. For these reasons, it has been on their “watch” list for years, particularly since its use is steadily increasing. In America, kratom is often marketed as a legal “high.” This is because it is classified as a herbal supplement, therefore it hasn’t been investigated as broadly as it would be if it were classified as a drug. But in many countries in Asia, kratom has been declared illegal. This is due to addiction concerns.

FDA Concerns About Kratom

The FDA has several concerns about kratom. Some believe there is still too much unknown about this botanical and how it affects a person’s body. There is no clear evidence that kratom is beneficial when used to treat opioid use disorder, either. Significant safety issues exist and there is no evidence that it will meet the FDA’s standard for approval for medication-assisted treatment. As of now, the FDA has no approved uses for this herb. They also urge consumers not to purchase products containing mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These are the psychoactive compounds of kratom. On February 6, 2018, the FDA released further warnings about kratom. They state it has “opioid” properties and has been linked to 44 deaths. They firmly believe that kratom binds to receptors in the brain the same way that opioids do. The DEA is working on getting the herb classified as a controlled substance like heroin, but this research takes time and thorough study.

Withdrawal Issues

Withdrawal symptoms can include sleep disturbances, abdominal cramps, anxiety, sweating or chills, nausea and vomiting, fever, muscle aches, and pain. Other debilitating symptoms include watery eyes, a runny nose, loss of appetite, restlessness or agitation.

Solutions to Opioid Addiction

There are outpatient opioid treatment centers and other places where you can utilize medication-assisted treatments to cope with opioid addiction. You can talk with one of our professionals at AppleGate Recovery to learn about the benefits of buprenorphine treatment and other effective ways to combat addiction. Buprenorphine is a viable option that has been approved by the FDA.

Benefits of Suboxone® Treatment

The most commonly known compound of buprenorphine is called Suboxone®. This medication decreases the effects of opiate withdrawal and helps to ease the cravings that many patients experience. Less medication is necessary to obtain a “ceiling effect”. This makes it less apt to be misused or to result in an overdose. Opioid addiction doesn’t have to control your life. Our goal is to help you cope with — and overcome — your addiction so that you can make a fresh start with Suboxone medication-assisted treatment.