The FDA recently announced another recall of products containing the controversial herb, Kratom. Scores of people in states across the country have been sickened by Kratom products tainted with salmonella. Including here in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Idaho.
Kratom is a tree in the coffee family from Southeast Asia. Its leaves have been used medicinally for centuries there. But when it comes to how the product is marketed or regulated here in the United States it’s the wild west according to Dr. Ken Gershman with Colorado’s health department.
He says he’s it’s hard to know the source of Kratom. And the fact that it’s a natural product rather than a manufactured one means it’s subject to all sorts of sanitary challenges.
And Gershman isn’t just worried about salmonella. He says Kratom can act a lot like an opioid in the body especially at high doses. That can be even more dangerous when combined with other drugs that target the nervous system, like antidepressants.
In 2016, the DEA tried to classify Kratom as a schedule 1 controlled substance like marijuana, but failed in the face of public backlash
“The salmonella,” Gershman says, “was extra ammunition should they want to say there’s even further reason to do this.”
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.