FDA Study Links Kratom to 152 Overdose Deaths
An April 2019 study by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)  found that kratom was associated with at least 91 overdose deaths between 2016 and 2017 alone. For the study, researchers looked at data on more than 27,000 overdose deaths during the same time period. Approximately 152 of the deaths, or .56% of all overdose deaths examined in the study, tested positive for kratom, according to postmortem toxicology reports. In 91 of these cases, kratom was determined to be the likely cause of death or its primary contributor, FDA said.
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What is Kratom?
Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree which contains compounds that may have psychotropic (mind-altering) effects, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) . Two compounds in kratom leaves, mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxymitragynine, interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing desirable effects including sedation, pleasure, and decreased pain (especially when taken in large amounts). Mitragynine has also been reported to interact with other receptor systems in the brain to produce stimulant effects including increased energy, sociability, and alertness instead of sedation. Kratom has also recently been linked to several dangerous, and potentially life-threatening side effects.
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Is Kratom Legal in the U.S.?
The worldwide laws pertaining to kratom use are ever-changing. The U.S. FDA and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have attempted to combat its usage by pushing a ban on kratom, while advocates and certain factions in the medical/scientific community are fighting to keep it legal.
In the U.S., there are currently 6 states in which kratom is labeled as a controlled substance and is therefore illegal to sell, possess, use or grow.
Kratom Legality by State
There are also various cities and counties in legal states in which kratom is banned:
- Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin - Kratom is illegal in all areas of use, possession, and purchase.
- Illinois - Kratom is legal for use, with exception of Jerseyville, to adults over the age of 18.
- New Hampshire - Kratom is legal to use for anyone over the age of 18.
- California - Kratom is legal for use but banned in the city of San Diego.
- Florida - Kratom is legal for use but banned in Sarasota County.
- Mississippi - Kratom is legal for use but banned in Union County.
- Colorado - Kratom is legal in Colorado, with an exception in Denver where it is considered “illegal for human consumption.”
- Tennessee - Kratom was banned, but it was lifted in 2017 and is now legal to use for those over 21 years old.
- In the remaining states, kratom is legal to consume, purchase and sell:
Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Short-term effects (>5 grams):
- Increased energy and alertness
- Decreased appetite
- Increased sociability
- Heightened libido
At moderate to high doses (5-15 grams), effects may include:
- Analgesia (pain reduction)
- Calm, dreamlike mental state
- Cough suppression
- Reduction in symptoms of opioid withdrawal
Kratom Side Effects
Like its desired effects, kratom can cause a number of unwanted side effects which may vary, depending on the dose taken. Mild to moderate side effects of kratom include :
- Pupillary constriction (tiny pupils)
- Facial flushing (blushing)
- Tremors / loss of motor coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
Serious Side Effects
- Kratom toxicity
- Liver Failure
Is Kratom Addictive?
Among the most serious potential risks of kratom is the possibility of dependence and addiction. Certain substances in the drug activate opiate signaling in the brain, which assists in mitigating the withdrawal symptoms of opioids. This same mechanism of action makes kratom extremely addictive, and evidence from users supports this notion.
Although its advocates continue to believe in the value of kratom, researchers who have studied the compound feel that its risk of side effects offset any potential health benefits. Poison control centers in the U.S. received about 1,800 reports involving use of kratom from 2011 to 2017, including reports of death, according to the Mayo Clinic . About half of these exposures resulted in severe negative outcomes such as seizures and high blood pressure. Five of the seven infants who were reported to have been exposed to kratom suffered withdrawal symptoms.
Although many people believe kratom to be harmless, a new study  has found that nearly 100 people in the U.S. died from fatal kratom overdoses during an 18-month period, according to the CDC. The information was based on data from a federal drug-overdose database which included records of all known fatal drug overdoses across 27 states from July 2016 through December 2017. In addition to the 91 deaths from kratom cited in the study, at least 65 other people who died from drug overdoses were found to have kratom in their systems at the time of death during the same time period, CDC said.
Symptoms of Kratom Overdose
- Tachycardia (fast heart rate)
- Agitation or irritability
(Courtesy of American Addiction Centers) 
Kratom Liver Failure
Chronic use of kratom has been associated with numerous reports of acute liver injury, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services . The injury typically manifests 2 to 8 weeks after initiating use of kratom with symptoms of fatigue, nausea, pruritus, and dark urine followed by jaundice.
The pattern of liver injury linked to kratom is usually cholestatic or mixed, and it can be severe with serum bilirubin levels rising above 20 mg/dL. The severe cholestasis can be accompanied by acute renal failure and/or bone marrow toxicity.
Symptoms of Liver Failure
- Yellowing of your skin and eyeballs (jaundice)]
- Pain in your upper right abdomen
- Abdominal swelling
- A general sense of feeling unwell (malaise)
- Disorientation or confusion
(Courtesy Mayo Clinic) 
Sunstone Organics Recalls Kratom for Salmonella Contamination
Springfield, Oregon-based Sunstone Organics recalled 2 types of kratom after routine testing identified the presence of salmonella bacteria in the product, FDA warned on Friday. The recall affected 2 plant lots:
- Sunstone Organics Maeng Da Kratom Lot 124A
- Sunstone Organics White Vein Kratom Lot 119
Kratom Products Recalled for Salmonella Contamination… Again
FDA has issued yet another recall for kratom products that it believes may be tainted with salmonella bacteria, according to FOX News. The recalled kratom was from Lot Number 0102031800, and was distributed across the U.S. via Internet sales, FDA said. Affected products were manufactured between March 18 and March 30, 2018.
FDA Issues First Ever 'Mandatory Recall' for Kratom
The U.S. FDA on Tuesday ordered a mandatory recall -- the first time the agency has used its mandatory recall power for a food product -- for potentially contaminated kratom produced by Triangle Pharmanaturals . The recall comes amid an ongoing nationwide outbreak of salmonella infections which have sickened at least 87 people in 35 states , according to CNN.
Other names used for kratom products may include: Biak-Biak, Cratom, Gratom, Ithang, Kakuam, Katawn, Kedemba, Ketum, Krathom, Kraton, Kratum, Madat, Maeng Da Leaf, Mambog, Mitragyna speciosa, Mitragynine Extract, Nauclea, Nauclea speciosa, Thang, Thom.
More Kratom Recalled for Salmonella Contamination
Tamarack Inc. is recalling Eclipse powder products because they may contain salmonella-tainted kratom, according to an FDA recall notice issued on Monday . Affected products are packaged in plastic heat sealed pouches or plastic sealed bottles, and sold in one gram capsules and powder. Distribution of an estimated 120 units were sold directly to 5 retailers in Utah, FDA said.
Kratom Blamed for 20-State Salmonella outbreak
A Portland, Oregon-based firm has announced it is expanding a prior recall for certain kratom powder and capsule products over a potential contamination with salmonella, according to the FDA . The expanded recall includes Red Maeng Da Powder, Super Green Malaysian Kratom Powder, Thai Kratom Powder (Green Vein), Thai Kratom Powder (Green Vein), and OG Bali Powder, among others.
Most of the people sickened in the salmonella outbreak claimed to have used some form of kratom in the time leading up to their illness, according to the CDC . The agency said that at least 11 patients had symptoms so extreme that they required emergency hospitalization.
No deaths have been associated with the kratom salmonella outbreak, according to the CDC, but the agency cautioned that salmonella infection (salmonellosis) can be deadly in rare cases, most often due to dehydration. Because no single brand has been implicated, CDC is recommending that consumers avoid all kratom products, including powders, teas and pills.
“At this time, CDC recommends that people not consume kratom in any form. The investigation indicates that kratom products could be contaminated with Salmonella and could make people sick,” the agency said on its website.
Signs and symptoms of salmonellosis include:
- Loss of appetite
Most symptoms begin within 12 to 72 hours of ingesting a product contaminated with the bacterium, and last from 4 to 7 days. However, it can take months for bowel habits to return to normal.
Related Article: Food Poisoning Treatments (Home Remedies)
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The Pharmaceutical Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in kratom lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Free Case Evaluation: Again, if you feel you’ve been harmed by the side effects of kratom, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.