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Kratom: Not Your Average Cup of Tea

KratomCurrently on the federal watch list, a new and addictive drug is being sold legally as a tea across the nation and online: Kratom (kray-tum).[1] The drug is native to Southeast Asia and is produced from the leaves of a tree in the coffee family.1 For hundreds of years is has been used by traditional healers for its pain relieving properties; however, the studies of its side effects and dosage are inconclusive.1

Currently, Kratum is abused as it has similar properties to opiates, such as heroin, but it is wrongly believed to have few side effects.1 It may be from a natural source, but it doesn’t mean it is safe.1 In America, it is sold in pill form or as a powder that can be used as a tea.1 In small doses, it acts like a stimulant, while it acts like a sedative in higher doses.1

Illegal in many parts of Asia, Kratom has a highly sedating effect that may suppress respiration to the point of death.1 It remains unclear what its effects are when combined with other substances, including other drugs, over-the-counter medicines, alcohol, and foods.1

Some people claim that Kratom provides relief for issues, such as arthritis, sore muscles, and depression; however, there is no research to confirm this.1 Instead, emergency rooms are being frequented by Kratom users, who present with hallucinations, seizures, respiratory depression, delusions, and confusion.1

Users report that Kratom produces a pleasant feeling that lasts longer than a cup of coffee, producing a feeling of well-being, alertness, and euphoria.[2] However, repeated use can lead to addiction.2

The DEA stated in a January 2013 publication: “Kratom consumption can lead to addiction. In a study of Thai Kratom addicts, it was observed that some addicts chewed Kratom daily for three to 30 years. Long-term use of Kratom produced anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, skin darkening, dry mouth, frequent urination, and constipation. A withdrawal syndrome was observed, consisting of symptoms of hostility, aggression, emotional lability, wet nose, achy muscles and bones, and jerky movement of the limbs. Furthermore, several cases of Kratom psychosis were observed, where Kratom addicts exhibited psychotic symptoms that included hallucinations, delusion, and confusion.”2

In this day and age, more and more street drugs are becoming available—and they are becoming more and more dangerous.1 Remember: natural doesn’t always mean safe.1

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