The Kratom Debate: Helpful Herb Or Dangerous Drug?

1 hour ago

Americans know the dangers of drugs such as morphine and heroin. But what about a supplement that acts in the brain a bit like an opiate and is available in many places to kids — even from vending machines.

Kratom, an herb that's abundant, legal in most states and potentially dangerous, is the subject of an ongoing debate over its risks and benefits.

Spring Hill resident Stepheny Cashion spoons greenish brownpowdered kratom into a white, plastic capsule maker. She uses the Southeast Asia plant to treat her chronic pain.
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

At her home in Spring Hill, Stepheny Cashion sits at her kitchen table with a bag of greenish-brown powder and a white, plastic box.

She pours out some empty, clear pills and pops them into the capsule maker. Then she scrapes the powdered kratom with a business card into the capsules.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory this week regarding the use of Kratom - an herb that some people use to treat pain, stress, anxiety, and even opioid withdrawal.