Kratom Unsafe as Herbal Supplement, Research Suggests


Binghamton, NY—In a new study, researchers at Binghampton University in New York set out to determine the safety of kratom. Their conclusion: “Our findings suggest kratom is not reasonably expected to be safe and poses a public health threat due to its availability as an herbal supplement.”

William Eggleston, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Binghamton, and his team conducted a retrospective review of kratom exposures reported to the National Poison Data System in order to determine the toxicities associated with kratom use, according to a press release. They also reviewed records from a county medical examiner’s office in New York to identify kratom-associated fatalities.

They found a total of 2,312 reported kratom exposures, with 935 cases involving kratom as the only substance, the release says. It most commonly caused agitation (18.6%), tachycardia (16.9%), drowsiness (13.6%), vomiting (11.2%), and confusion (8.1%). Some serious effects were also reported, ranging from seizure (6.1%) and withdrawal (6.1%) to hallucinations (4.8%) and coma (2.3%), with .6% of the cases involving cardiac or respiratory arrest. They also found four deaths associated with kratom.

The release says that these findings suggest that kratom is not reasonably safe, and poses a public health threat.

Eggleston said in the release: “Although it is not as strong as some other prescription opioids, kratom does still act as an opioid in the body. In larger doses, it can cause slowed breathing and sedation, meaning that patients can develop the same toxicity they would if using another opioid product. It is also reported to cause seizures and liver toxicity. Kratom may have a role in treating pain and opioid use disorder, but more research is needed on its safety and efficacy. Our results suggest it should not be available as an herbal supplement.”

The release noted that Eggleston and his team are working with researchers at SUNY Upstate Medical University to asses if the risk for toxicity changes based on dosage.

UPDATE: Several people reached out to WholeFoods to report concerns with the Binghampton University study and to share their own positive experiences with kratom. One respondent noted that the issues come with Adulterated products, not plain leaf, and suggested that people in favor of kratom support the Kratom Consumer Protection Act. More information can be found at the American Kratom Association.

Related: FDA Issues Warning Letters to Two Companies Selling Kratom

FDA Analysis Finds Unsafe Levels of Heavy Metals in Kratom Products


  1. Even with fake news like this, the FDA and DEA are losing the war on kratom. No matter how much tyranny Gottlieb and his replacement would like to inflict on the American people, they will lose. Kratom and marijuana have shown our federal government who is really boss. The legacy of Scott Gottlieb is him miserably losing his and GlaxoSmithKline’s war on kratom. The most important part is the children are watching and naturally learning to disobey and disregard the DEA and FDA, and instead, to revel in glorious state laws which prove how little power the feds actually have.

  2. This is hardly a study and the article is very misleading by stating that Kratom is dangerous. You have to provide data about the plant itself in order to make these claims. Gathering medical examiner’s information without any previous knowledge of the health of those patients or other substances found in their body is not proof that Kratom is a dangerous and addictive substance. Clinical trials must be conducted in order to gather the data necessary to make the claims being made against kratom. This has not occurred. What I have read here I have read in all of the other articles against kratom. Thousands of people die every year from opioid use, alcohol and consumption of nicotine. Many of the pharmaceutical drugs prescribed have severe side effects some of which can be death and seizures , yet the FDA deems them as safe. This is the same type of propaganda that it was used against cannabis for a hundred years. The war against plants must stop! There are hundreds of herbal supplements on the market and dozens of substances that can be habit-forming , but they are available easily for consumption. Big Pharma is protecting the sale of opioids because they see people finding a safe alternative to ease their pain, depression and anxiety.

  3. Blatant lies and misinformation. It has been scientifically that it does NOT cause respiratory depression.

    It is a safe plant and when used correctly benefits millions of people, millions. If it was unsafe there would be a public health crisis, which we do not have.

    Quit spreading lies and #followthescience

  4. Daily user here! Kratom cured my alcoholism, and I know many who have cured their opiate addictions and gotten off all other pharmaceutical medications.

    This is the actual problem industry has with it. They can’t patent the plant or profit from it (but pharma companies are working on synthesizing the active components in a lab for patent currently, talk about hypocritical) and kratom is taking away their profits so they pay for studies to fudge with data & control groups to show it is unsafe.

    There is plenty of research showing kratom’s safety & low-abuse profile. Too bad your researchers didn’t do their job on this article and cite those, but instead you prefer to show your pharma sponsors and to contribute to the opiate problem in this country.

    One last share, I recently had a whole panel of tests & physical and I am in top shape. My liver is spectacular and I am on no meds. Since I take it daily & I’m thriving, I am living proof of kratom’s safety. If anything, the plant should be regulated and treated like any other nutritional supplement to follow GMP’s.

  5. Took Kratom for 5 yrs!! NEVER ONCE Had a Single Issue!! When My state banned it; I had to go back to Pain Management!! The prescription pills are Hard on my body, to say the least! Kratom IS SAFE, HAS HEALTH BENEFITS!! Taking kratom, I had a life working, taking care of my grandkids, driving, my own housework & cooking!!! Now I have to have Help!
    Kratom Saves Lives!

  6. What a pile of misinformation. Kratom is not an opiate, and does not cause a slowdown in breathing and things like opiates do. If you drink too much of the tea you will get nauseous and throw up, you can not “over dose” on it. And I would have never heard of this stuff had the DEA recommendation to my pain doc in 2014 that I would not be allowed my 12 year old pain management regiment. I had no option but to look into something to help with my chronic pain. All that said, anyone can abuse anything. Do we outlaw alcohol, smoking, driving, all the things that kill thousands of people every daY, come on people, let’s be reasonable. Let’s learn the actual medical positives of Kratom, and how helpful it can be to help with the opiate issues we as a society now suffer through.

  7. If there’s slowed breathing, toxicity etc…. It’s more than just kratom, or it’s an unbelievable amount over time. As with anything else, common sense, moderation, and as good a diet and activity you can get, are fundamental in any attempts to use supplements etc. Too many people don’t take care of themselves as well asneeded, and rely on different drugs, meds, herbals to do it all. They mix things, overuse, and they put too much stock in what they read from others, without researching further. Kratom is a life saver, and if it’s taken away, the results will be horrific. Kratoms not the problem… Laziness, ignorance, and the need for instant gratification is. Plenty of real science supporting kratoms safe and effective abilities to treat symptoms of many issues, is availability through the American Kratom Association, Dr’s Christopher McCurdy, Jane Babin and Jack Henningfield,.. just look, ask em. Spread truth. Not fear.

  8. Its a shame that this truely Amazing plant is being condemned like this without any true research into the countries its grown there is no deaths and has been used for centuries

  9. I have been consuming kratom for 5 years as I have several painful conditions. Fibromyalgia, arthritis, adhesive capsulitis, spinal stenosis, frayed meniscus, several hand joint surgeries, feet surgeries where I have had pieces of bone cut out and general pains from getting older.

    Life for 8 years before taking Kratom
    *taking 11 medications including prescribed dilaudid and fentanyl
    *Using a wheelchair and walker
    *rarely left the house
    *couldnt go see my mom after she went to the nursing home for 3 years
    *missed out on ALL activities my kids had at school
    *i had no relationships with my kids

    I have been taking KRATOM now for 5 years and this is my life now
    * taking ZERO medications for pain and my dr approves of Kratom
    * I bike several miles a day through a nature preserve near our home or walk 2 miles a day.
    *go out to places several times a week for dinner, coffee etc
    *I saw my mom often on a regular basis.Which is truly a blessing because she just died March 23.
    * I went on a family camping and road trip from Michigan to Wyoming for the solar eclipse where I even did some rock climbing
    * I have been able to get to know my kids and establish a relationship. I am so lucky they all go to local colleges or I never would have gotten to know them. It’s my pleasure to take care of them, as much as I can because they are adults now, even if it is just preparing their meals. For many years they pretty much raised themselves. I am so grateful for Kratom.

  10. The issues come with Adulterated products not plain leaf. To stop this support the Kratom Consumer Protection Act which has an age restriction, strict labeling and zero adulterated products. You can actually enact your own version of it in your county. There is not a need for a ban.

    15 million people consume it daily. We deserve safe kratom. So the associations literally begged commissioner Gottlieb to regulate it but that man was so obsessed with a ban that he refused. So we are going state to state getting their help with getting it regulated. The FDA has had the power to regulate it all along. And so we are going state to state with the kratom consumer protection act. It has been passed in 4 states and several more are in the process. Here is a webinar about the consumer protection act

  11. At this point I would like to see a “real” study on Kratom. I suggest a peer reviewed study of scientists who are not connected by monetary interests to help ensure the quality of the information you have gathered.

    There has been a lot of bad reviewing on this plant. Many reports, including medical examiner’s, include Kratom that has been enhanced by other drugs known to be harmful. Many of the deaths credited to Kratom have been proven to have numerous additional causes.

    I feel that no one is doing a service for either side when a study consists of putting together other peoples suspect findings. I think it is travesty to weigh in on a subject of this magnitude without studying the plant (unadulterated) before pronouncing judgement.

    There is a potential that regulated Kratom could help people in a variety of ways. It is not a cure, but then again neither is opioids. I think it’s worth the time and expense to responsibly research this plant and discover its possible potential as well as side effects.

  12. I have some issues with this conclusion as it does not compare the side effects of other reported herbal supplements and kratom. Looking as some other common supplements and over the counter medications,there are just as many, if not more, adverse reports listed from poison control as there are for kratom.

    I feel that there may be some bias in this research study and will wait to make my conclusion until more research is done.


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