FDA: "Disturbingly" High Levels of Heavy Metals Found in Kratom Products

The drug is derived from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciose tree, native to southeast Asia
The drug is derived from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciose tree, native to southeast Asia

Kratom products may contain high levels of heavy metals that could potentially lead to poisoning, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Agency conducted testing on 26 separate kratom products which revealed levels of nickel and lead considered not safe for human consumption. While single use is unlikely to lead to serious harm, persistent consumption could potentially cause heavy metal poisoning, the FDA noted in a press statement.

"Despite all these risks, we know that kratom has grown in popularity in recent years due to unsubstantiated claims about its purported benefit," said FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, MD. Earlier this year, high rates of Salmonella contamination were identified in certain kratom products leading to illness, which in some cases required hospitalization.

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Trends have shown that individuals seek kratom as a self-treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD), however there have been no adequate or well-controlled studies to substantiate its use for this condition. The botanical substance has also been used by those seeking treatment for anxiety, as well as for recreational purposes for its euphoric effects. At this time, there are no FDA-approved therapeutic uses for kratom.

“The findings of identifying heavy metals in kratom only strengthen our public health warnings around this substance, and concern for the health and safety of Americans using it,” said Gottlieb.

For more information visit FDA.gov.