HealthDay News — The unregulated herbal supplement known as kratom, which is mainly used for self-treating pain or mood disorders in the United States, is associated with significant toxicities, according to a report published in the July issue of Pharmacotherapy.

William Eggleston, PharmD, from Binghamton University in New York, and colleagues conducted a retrospective review of kratom exposures reported to the National Poison Data System to determine associated toxicities. Kratom-associated fatalities were identified from a county medical examiner’s office in the state of New York.

The researchers identified 2,312 kratom exposures; 935 cases involved kratom as the only substance. Kratom most commonly caused agitation, tachycardia, drowsiness, vomiting, and confusion (18.6, 16.9, 13.6, 11.2, and 8.1%, respectively). There were also reports of serious effects of seizure, withdrawal, hallucinations, respiratory depression, coma, and cardiac or respiratory arrest (6.1, 6.1, 4.8, 2.8, 2.3, and 0.6%, respectively). In the death of four decedents identified by the county medical examiner’s office, kratom was listed as a cause or contributing factor.

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“We agree with the United States Department of Health and Human Services that kratom’s availability as an herbal supplement should be reconsidered,” the authors write.

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