It has been used for hundreds of years to treat chronic pain, anxiety, depression and in recent years opioid addiction. It is called Kratom.
It comes from the Kratom tree in Southeast Asia. It is sold in Michigan without restrictions to anyone over 18 in many smoke shops in Metro Detroit.
According to the American Kratom Association, Michigan is one of only 5 states with no restrictions. An estimated 3 million people use it in the United States.
The Food and Drug Administration is calling it dangerous, addictive, as bad as heroin or opioids and is moving to impose restrictions.
We found many variations or what are called veins. On the packages there are no instructions for dosage. And some pages have names like Viet Nam Green or Trainwreck.
Dr. Partha Nandi says, “Right now all the stuff that’s out there I would not use it. If you choose to use it talk to your doctor, make sure you’re not at risk.”
The FDA lists Kratom as a “drug and chemical of concern.”
Some people use it to stop an addiction to opioids.
Dr. Nandi says, “People think well, I’m going to use it so I can get off the other ones. It can be just as dangerous. I can have addictive potential we just don’t know. That’s the problem.”
He’s also concerned about a lack of information for people who do use it.
“Even if you want to sample it your advice is what? I would not. You have 36 people die. That’s just too high of a risk to take. I would say do not do it. Let the government and other research agencies look at it study it and then we can make a decision.”
Over the weekend news about this story went viral on Facebook and I’ve heard from many people in Metro Detroit who say they take Kratom successfully. We’ll have more on this on Tuesday.
The FDA could impose restrictions within a year.