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Study Finds Dramatic Rise In Misuse Of Herbal Supplement Kratom

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A new study at Nationwide Children’s Hospital finds the misuse of the popular herbal supplement "kratom" could lead to serious health conditions or even death.

More people are using kratom to treat chronic or acute pain, as well as depression and anxiety. It can also help with opioid withdrawal. But a study appearing in the journal Clinical Toxicology finds misuse of the herbal supplement led to a big increase in calls to poison centers.

Henry Spiller from Nationwide's Central Ohio Poison Center says between 2011 and 2017, calls rose from 13 a year to more than 680.

"We see things like seizures, agitation, tachachardia, hypertension, confusion, a number of these other effects," Spiller says.

So far, 11 deaths across the nation have been reported following the use of kratom. 

“Kratom isn’t regulated, so you can just order it," Spiller says. "You can get dry kratum in capsules. They make tea out of it. There are various ways. But you’re just getting this and the potency of what you’re getting, well you may not know and you may get into trouble with this.”

Researchers want the FDA to regulate kratom to avoid any health issues.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.