What is kratom?

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa korth) is a tropical tree from Southeast Asia. Its leaves contain chemicals that can have mind-altering effects. In the U.S., kratom is often marketed as a legal herbal drug, sold in powder and capsule forms, and sometimes marketed as a dietary supplement. Some people use it as an alternative treatment for conditions such as pain, anxiety, depression, and opioid use disorder. However, at this time, there are no FDA-approved uses of kratom.

Is kratom safe to use?

Kratom has numerous side effects, including nausea, vomiting, constipation, tremors, drowsiness, fatigue, insomnia, loss of sex drive, frequent urination, seizures, tachycardia (abnormally rapid heart rate), hallucinations, and liver damage. Several reports of death also have been associated with kratom-containing products, likely due to contamination with other compounds, especially opioids such as hydrocodone. Moreover, kratom can be addictive. People using kratom might experience withdrawal symptoms such as muscle aches, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggression, and jerky movements.

What is FDA’s stance on kratom?

FDA warns consumers not to use kratom. According to FDA:

  • Kratom is not approved for use in dietary supplements. “FDA has exercised jurisdiction over kratom as an unapproved drug, and has also taken action against kratom-containing dietary supplements.”
  • Kratom often is marketed as a “safe” treatment for some serious health conditions, but kratom contains compounds that “make it so it isn’t just a plant – it’s an opioid.”
  • FDA has concerns about “kratom’s potential for abuse, addiction, and serious health consequences; including death.” In fact, there has been an increase in reported deaths associated with kratom use since November 2017.
  • FDA has a well-developed process for evaluating botanical drug products, but “To date, no marketer has sought to properly develop a drug that includes kratom.”

Will I pop hot on a DoD drug test if I use kratom?

Kratom use will not produce a positive result on a routine DoD drug test. Regardless, Military Service Members are highly discouraged from using any product containing kratom, given its safety concerns. Kratom is on the OPSS list of DoD-prohibited substances.

For more information about kratom, please see:

Updated 04 December 2018

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