Several health experts from the US have intensely promoted an herbal product as an alternative to opioids, and an effective way to quit them. This product is made of kratom leaves, a tree similar to coffee plants growing in the southeastern part of Asia. However, the FDA warn people against these products, saying they might put them at huge risks.
Kratom mimics the effects of opioids
Kratom is able to cut opioid addiction thanks to a certain compound it contains. This compound is called mitragynine, and can bind on the same receptor as heroin and other powerful opioids. This way, it manages to trick the body into thinking it receives the same kind of substances, releasing a therapeutic effect.
Therefore, all its supporters founded the American Kratom Association. Their main purpose is to get the plant product accepted as a safe replacement for any kind of opioids. These efforts have some results, as they managed to place several vending machines which offered the herbal alternatives.
The herbal product might not really be the safest alternative to opioids
However, the FDA is not convinced that the substance is as beneficial as it is presented. The administration is aware that people often use kratom against conditions like anxiety, depression, or chronic pain. If they have similar effects to narcotics, it means they can lead to addiction as well. Also, they might come with the same risks, and might put people’s lives in danger.
Previous tests on mice showed that kratom might be addictive as well, and poison control centers identified more cases of intoxication with the plant product than before. Usually, these supplements might contain other substances apart from the plant, which might cause withdrawal effects, seizures, or might damage the liver.
Also, 36 people died after taking kratom. These results are worrying, so the product might not actually be a solution to the opioid crisis. Instead, using the herbal alternative might help expand the epidemic.
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