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Local Study Shows Herbal Supplement Leading To More Poison Control Center Calls

Feb 22, 2019

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A new study out of Columbus show a dramatic increase in calls to U.S. poison control centers regarding a popular herbal supplement. 

Mike Foley reports.

Health officials say in recent years, kratom has become a frequent treatment for chronic or acute pain as well as mood conditions including depression and anxiety. It's also often used to help with opioid withdrawal. A new study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that the annual number of U.S poison control center calls regarding kratom went from 13 in 2011 to 682 in 2017. That's the equivalent of going from about one call a month to two calls a day. 

The study found that most exposures occurred among males age 20 years and older and were intentional abuse or misuse. The study found that nearly one third of the calls resulted in admission to a healthcare facility and more than half resulted in serious medical outcomes, especially among teenagers and adults. The medical effects noted in the study ranged from rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure to seizures, loss of consciousness, and kidney failure. There were also 11 fatalities.  

The Drug Enforcement Administration lists kratom as a “drug of concern.”  The researchers say because it's not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, product quality, purity, and concentration varies dramatically. They're calling for FDA regulation to ensure product uniformity. The study is published online in the journal Clinical Toxicology.

Meanwhile, the American Kratom Association says it represents the nearly 5 million Americans who consume kratom safely. The group says it's not opposed to regulation, as long as the FDA works with industry groups and engages in a comprehensive, scientifically-based process.