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Common Herbal Supplement Linked To Seizure, Coma, Cardiac Arrest, More

Kratom may not be safe for everyone as an herbal supplement. Researchers found that the herb has been causing serious health problems among users, including seizures, coma, cardiac arrest and even death. 

People commonly use kratom to treat pain and opioid addiction. The herbal supplement comes from a plant that grows throughout Southeast Asia. 

Previous reports claimed the herb contain chemicals that could fight opioid in the body. Some users consider kratom as a useful treatment for drug withdrawal, drug use disorder and body pain.

However, poison centers across the U.S. have been reporting patients suffering from the herb’s toxicity. Researchers from Binghamton University in New York then analyzed recent kratom exposures reported to the National Poison Data System as well as records from a County Medical Examiner's Office in New York State to see what causes the toxicity and its common effects. 

The team collected more than 2,300 kratom exposures and found 935 cases that only involved the herb. The results, published in the journal Pharmacotherapy,  show that intake of the supplement caused agitation, tachycardia, drowsiness, vomiting and confusion. 

Kratom also triggered seizures, withdrawal, hallucinations, respiratory depression, coma and cardiac or respiratory arrest. Four deaths were linked to intake of the herb. 

"Although it is not as strong as some other prescription opioids, kratom does still act as an opioid in the body," William Eggleston, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Binghamton University, said in a statement. "In larger doses, it can cause slowed breathing and sedation, meaning that patients can develop the same toxicity they would if using another opioid product.”

The study suggests that kratom is not safe as herbal supplement. The research team warned that its availability in the market poses a public health threat.

“It is also reported to cause seizures and liver toxicity,” Eggleston said. “Kratom may have a role in treating pain and opioid use disorder, but more research is needed on its safety and efficacy. Our results suggest it should not be available as an herbal supplement.”

Eggleston’s team has started work with SUNY Upstate Medical University to further understand the negative effects of kratom. The next study may include the number of patients using the herb.

Kratom Kratom comes from a plant that grows throughout Southeast Asia commonly used to treat pain and opioid addiction. Pixabay