Health Care

Plant Used to Treat Pain, Depression Now Labeled as Opioid

Plant Used to Treat Pain, Depression Now Labeled as Opioid

According to the FDA, they have confirmed 44 deaths due to kratom, an increase from 36 deaths in November, when they released a public health advisory.

But Gottlieb warned that claiming it's harmless because it's "just a plant" is shortsighted and risky.

"We recognize the need and desire for alternative treatments for both the treatment of opioid addiction, as well as the treatment of chronic pain". From this analysis, FDA researchers concluded that all of the compounds share the most structural similarities with controlled opioid analgesics, such as morphine derivatives.

"There is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use", Gottlieb said.

For getting rid of opioid addiction, some people use kratom supplement as home remedy, while others just use for fun.

The FDA's claims also have been questioned by kratom researcher Scott Hemby, chair of the department of basic pharmaceutical sciences at High Point University in North Carolina. Their new model, together with previously available experimental data, confirm that two of the top five most prevalent compounds (including mitragynine) are known to activate opioid receptors ("opioid agonists").

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In a statement released on Tuesday, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned consumers about kratom, an herbal supplement that some believe could possibly reduce opioid withdrawal cravings.

Between 2010 and 2015, calls about kratom to poison control centers rose 10-fold from 26 to 263, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In other cases, kratom was used in combination with other drugs that affect the brain, including illicit drugs, prescription opioids, benzodiazepines, and over-the-counter medications.

"Patients addicted to opioids are using kratom without dependable instructions for use and more importantly, without consultation with a licensed health care provider about the product's dangers, potential side effects or interactions with other drugs", Gottlieb said in a previous statement in November.

One of the worst, Gottlieb said, was that people who had serious mental or physical health issues might be treating symptoms with kratom but not addressing the root causes. At least one of the chemicals may also have some addictive properties. In 2016, the DEA proposed a ban on kratom but backtracked under pressure from some members of Congress and outcry from kratom advocates who said it could help treat opioid addiction.

The FDA conducted a scientific analysis using a computational model developed by agency scientists, he said.

"Just because it binds, it doesn't mean it has the same efficacy" as an opioid, Hemby explained. "When it comes to drugs for cancer, we wouldn't rely on a computer model to drive policy".


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