Kratom: A dangerous drug or a helpful pain reliever? - FOX10 News | WALA

Kratom: A dangerous drug or a helpful pain reliever?

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Photo of a liquid shot of Kratom. The Drug Education Council warns against using Kratom when packaged in a liquid shot bottle. Photo: WALA/FOX10 News Photo of a liquid shot of Kratom. The Drug Education Council warns against using Kratom when packaged in a liquid shot bottle. Photo: WALA/FOX10 News

The Mobile County Drug Education Council is warning against the substance kratom calling it “danger in a bottle” but those who use the substance for pain relief say it’s anything but dangerous.

Kratom is an herbal substance that can be taken orally in a powder or liquid form.

The liquid substance is being sold in gas stations, convenience stores, and head shops in a shot bottle. Kratom serves an energy supplement, an herb that reduces pain, anxiety and depression. The active ingredients are mitragynine and hydroxymitragynine.

Executive Director of the Drug Education Council, Virginia Guy, is asking parents to be weary of the substance that’s being sold in bottles packaged similar to 5-hour energy shots.

“I do want parents to know that these things used by children for muscle relief or for mood enhancing or relaxation or that kind of thing is very dangerous for the children,” Guy said.

“We do have a position that we believe that only adults 18 and over should consume this substance and for the most part, the bottles do say not for anyone 18 or under and stores are supposed to, I would hope, enforce this. That is where the problem is, is the lack of enforcement,” said Director of the American Kratom Association, Susan Ash.

Ash says people can purchase kratom in liquid shots at the gas station but it's usually mixed with other chemicals.

“The thing with the liquid shots also is that they have other ingredients besides kratom so they are herbal ingredients but every individual is going to have a different reaction to something they consume in their body,” Ash explained. “What I have been able to research is actually the amount of kratom in them is not very high. The typical dose of someone who uses this medicinally is about four grams and theses are drinks that only contain milligrams,” she said.

Kratom a “synthetic heroin”?

The Drug Education Council says researchers compare the effects of kratom to opiates (prescription pain killers) and heroin because it attaches to the same receptors in the brain. Kratom is often referred to as "synthetic heroin;" however, it is not classified as a synthetic.

Ash, who uses kratom powder daily as a medication to help manage residual effects of Lyme Disease, says the effects of kratom are far from that of an opiate.

“I have a lot of experience with narcotics myself. Being sick for so long I was prescribed up to a 160 mg of morphine a day. I know what morphine feels like and this is not anything near that kind of a feeling. Mood booster, pain reliever, but nothing that could be compared to any illicit drug or substance or even a prescription opiate, I think that's a stretch,” Ash explained.

Side effects of Kratom?

The Drug Education Council says kratom is addictive. Other side effects may include: nervousness, nausea/vomiting (can be severe and prolonged), psychotic episodes, hallucinations and paranoia. The effects of kratom are felt quickly and can last between 5 and 7 hours, although high doses can last longer.

“That’s what I fear if kids use it because kids don’t sip on anything. When they drink anything they kind of drink in excess, so used it excess it has extreme negative physical, psychological and emotional consequences,” Guy explained.

Ash says taking kratom in its pure form as a powder has never caused her to experience any of those effects. On the contrary, when used for its intended medical purpose, Ash says it serves as a mood booster and pain reliever.

Guy says pain is real and she is not against adults who use the substance for chronic pain relief. Guy says she wants to make sure children aren’t abusing kratom and using it as a recreational drug.

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