Asian herb kratom suspected as source of salmonella outbreak


A flare-up of 28 salmonella infections in 20 states has been connected to kratom items, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an announcement Tuesday. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] advocated consumers not to utilize Kratom based on the agency's discovery that it contained opioid compounds. Some consumers have hailed the drug as a "natural" pain remedy, but some medical experts say it can be risky, even deadly.

As of February 16, there have been 20 states to report that 28 people are infected with the outbreak Salmonella strain, 11 people have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

Here's what health officials know so far, and what you need to keep in mind.

The FDA has always been skeptical of the benefits of kratom, having placed import alerts on the substance in 2012 and 2014.

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The FDA said it wants all companies making similar products to take them off the market, and urged all consumers who have kratom-containing products to stop using them and throw them away. Seventy-three percent of people with the illness reported consuming kratom in pills, powder, or tea, according to CDC. Evidence suggests that the source of the outbreak is possibly kratom, which is a plant that is used as a substitute to opioids.

Kratom is also known as Thang, Kakuam, Thom, Ketom, and Biak.

"At the same time, there's no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use", he added. The agency has also been assessing peer-reviewed research and a growing number of adverse event reports associated with kratom use, including 44 reported deaths. There are now no FDA-approved therapeutic uses of kratom and importantly, the FDA has evidence to show that there are significant safety issues associated with its use.

As it has made its way to the United States, kratom has gained a reputation as an opioid alternative to help people wean themselves off of the unsafe and addictive drugs with milder withdrawal symptoms, but there have not been clinical studies to prove this.