Kratom, a popular botanical drug that was already under fire from U.S. health officials claiming it is an addictive opioid, is now facing scrutiny following a string of salmonella infections.
Kratom is a naturally growing herb found in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Over recent years, kratom has been sold increasingly as a dietary supplement meant to manage pain and boost energy.
Earlier this month, the FDA issued an alert declaring the botanical an opioid after a computer analysis found that nearly all of kratom’s major compounds bind to opioid receptors on the human brain cells and two of the most prevalent compounds activate opioid receptors. The FDA also noted that 44 deaths have been reported in connection with kratom, often in combination with other substances.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now urging Americans to avoid kratom due to the risk of salmonella.
According to CBS News, at least 28 instances of salmonella infection have been recorded across 20 states. 11 people have been hospitalized, although no deaths have been reported. Of the 11 people interviewed in connection with the outbreak, eight had reported consuming kratom in pill, powder, or tea form.
Among other controversies facing kratom is a sharp spike in kratom-related poisonings, with kratom-related calls to poison centers increasing tenfold between 2010 and 2015 from 26 to 263.