Kratom is not a very safe choice for treating anxiety

Kratom is not a very safe choice for treating anxiety

DEAR DR. ROACH: With the current popularity of CBD and hemp products, I wonder your thoughts on Kratom, another plant-derived product. It is sold nearby. Is it an effective way to treat anxiety? — D.H …

DEAR DR. ROACH: With the current popularity of CBD and hemp products, I wonder your thoughts on Kratom, another plant-derived product. It is sold nearby. Is it an effective way to treat anxiety? — D.H.A.

ANSWER: Kratom is an herb (Mitragyna speciosa) often used as treatment for opioid withdrawal, as a stimulant or sedative (depending on dose), or as a treatment for such diverse medical conditions as diarrhea and muscle pain. It is also used as a recreational drug. I have talked to several people who are very enthusiastic users of this product and who feel it is safe and effective.

Unfortunately, the medical literature is much more concerning. There are thousands of reports of adverse effects from kratom, including seizures, hallucinations, coma and death. There were 44 deaths related to kratom in 2017 identified by the Food and Drug Administration. It has addictive potential and may cause withdrawal when stopped. One manufacturer was forced to recall all kratom products due to contamination with salmonella in 2018.

There is no good evidence that kratom is effective for anxiety or any other symptom, and clear evidence of potential for harm, which is why I recommend against its use.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or request an order form of available health newsletters or mail questions to P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

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