Herbal Drug Kratom Linked to Salmonella Illnesses, CDC Says

From Drugs.com - February 20, 2018

Herbal Drug Kratom Linked to Salmonella Illnesses, CDC Says

TUESDAY, Feb. 20, 2018 -- The popular botanical drug kratom is already under fire from U.S. health officials as an addictive opioid, and now new reports are linking its use with salmonella poisoning.

In a news release issued Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, along with several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is "investigating a multistate outbreak of 28 salmonella infections in 20 states" linked to kratom use.

Kratom grows naturally in the Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It has been sold as a dietary supplement -- typically to help manage pain and boost energy.

But the CDC said that, so far, 11 people have been hospitalized with salmonella illness linked to their use of the leafy herb, although no deaths have yet been reported.

"Investigation findings link the outbreak to kratom products," the CDC said. "Out of 11 people interviewed, eight (73 percent) reported consuming kratom. Ill people in this outbreak report consuming kratom in pills, powder or tea. No common brands or suppliers of kratom products have been identified."

For now, the CDC is urging Americans to avoid kratom due to the salmonella threat. The agency noted that their investigation into the outbreak is ongoing.

This is not the first bad news for users of kratom, which is growing in popularity in the United States.

On Feb. 6, the FDA issued a statement that declared the botanical to be an opioid.

Computer analysis of the herb found that nearly all of kratom's major compounds bind to opioid receptors on human brain cells, and two of the top five most prevalent compounds activate those receptors, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in the statement.

In addition, there have been 44 reported deaths associated with the use of kratom, often in combination with other substances, Gottlieb said.

"Kratom should not be used to treat medical conditions, nor should it be used as an alternative to prescription opioids," Gottlieb said at the time. "There is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use."

Claims that kratom is harmless because it's just a plant are "shortsighted and dangerous," Gottlieb continued, noting that heroin also is derived from poppy plants.

Gottlieb urged people to seek help from a health care provider if they are using kratom to self-medicate for pain or to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms.


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