FDA warns of kratom's 'deadly risks'

FDA warns of Kratom's 'deadly risks'

There's a supplement you can buy that's supposed to have almost incredible effects.

It's called kratom, and its proponents say it can do anything from easing daily aches and pains to alleviating drug withdrawal symptoms.

It's based on a substance that grows on a tree like coffee beans, and it's generally sold as a pill or a powder, usually after being mixed with a drink. 

Willow Tree supplement shop owner Melody Faircloth says her product is a natural way to make her customers feel better.

"These natural herbs are what God put on this Earth to heal us. They will work on the problem, not the symptoms," said Faircloth.

But not everyone takes such a rosy view. The Food and Drug Administration put out a statement warning of what it called kratom's "deadly risks."

It read in part:

"There have been reports of kratom being laced with other opioids like hydrocodone. The use of kratom is also associated with serious side effects like seizures, liver damage and withdrawal symptoms."

Coliseum Medical Center addiction counselor Kyle James agrees. She says it's especially dangerous when someone uses it to for one of its supposed benefits -- easing opiate withdrawal symptoms:

"An addict is going to take the drug for euphoria. Kratom is not something you're necessarily going to get a euphoria from, so the brain will automatically say, 'More, more, more,' to try to reach that euphoria level. That's what's causing the deaths, that's why it's so fatal."

The FDA acknowledges that kratom may have possible medical uses but says they must be backed by sound science. So far, the FDA hasn't approved kratom for any therapeutic uses. 

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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