Study: A Steep Rise in Poison Center Calls Over Kratom Use

More and more people are turning to the herbal supplement kratom for self-treatment of chronic or acute pain, depression, anxiety, and opioid withdrawal. Kratom is a controversial supplement because federal regulators and drug law enforcement officials have said there is little evidence to support the substance’s safety or effectiveness for any of these uses. A new study has now left more cause for concern, finding that potentially dangerous medical outcomes related to the drug’s use are on the rise.

Research published online today in the magazine Clinical Toxicology It found that kratom-related calls to US poison control centers increased more than 5,000 percent between 2011 and 2017. The number of annual calls rose from 13 to 682 in that time period. About two-thirds of the total 1,800 calls occurred during that period between 2016 and 2017.

β€œThe use and abuse of kratom has significantly increased,” says one of the study co-authors. Henry Spillerdirector of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, who conducted the investigation along with the Center for Injury Research and Policy.

“Kraft is legal but completely unregulated, so there are people who take a lot and then have tachycardia (rapid heart rate), high blood pressure, agitation, and seizures,” he says. “We have a number of deaths and comas.”

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