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CDC Warns Against Opioid Substitute Kratom

Aug 01, 2016 07:54 AM EDT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report concerning the use of opioid substitute known as kratom.

According to a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) in the U.S., the increasing use of kratom, a plant-based opioid substitute grown in Southeast Asia, is considered a public health threat.  

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is being imported into the U.S. and is being used in treating chronic pain, fibromyalgia and opioid withdrawal, Forbes reports.

According to Forbes, the substance is being used globally due to its stimulant and psychoactive effects, and is accessible over the internet. The kratom is commonly chewed, smoked, made into tea or taken in the form of a capsule.

CDC has warned the public against the risks of opioid dependence, severe withdrawal syndromes and the dangers of mixing the drug with alcohol or other depressants.

While not yet a scheduled drug, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) included kratom in the "Drugs of Concern" list, which means that the substance is not regulated by the Controlled Substances Act but has an abuse threat. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has also classified kratom as an emerging drug of abuse.

According to the CDC report, the number of calls to poison centers in the U.S. increased 10-fold, from 2010 to 2015, and 660 calls were associated with kratom use. About 75 percent were said to be intentional, and 90 percent of cases resulted from ingestion.

Nearly 25 percent of patients showed minimal signs or symptoms and 41.7 percent had moderate complications, but 7 percent of the patients showed major life-threatening signs or symptoms with some residual disability.

One case of death was also reported, where the patient was exposed to paroxetine (Paxil) and lamotrigine (Lamictal) in addition to kratom.

The symptoms associated with ingestion include tachycardia (25%), agitation or irritability (23.8%), drowsiness (19.4%), nausea (14.7%) and hypertension (11.7%)

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