“Disturbingly” high levels of heavy metals that can be harmful to humans, like lead and nickel, have been found in more than two dozen different kratom products, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned.
“While the levels of the specific products we’ve tested so far are not likely to result in immediate acute heavy metal poisoning from a single use, some of these products included levels that, with chronic use, could cause some people to suffer heavy metal poisoning,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said in a statement.
The agency tested 26 different kratom products, and is concerned that there may be other kratom products on the market that also contain heavy metals.
Kratom is a plant native to Thailand, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, but it has become a popular herbal supplement in the United States. Kratom is often promoted as a treatment for pain, anxiety, depression and even opioid withdrawal.
Earlier this year, the FDA warned that scientific studies and adverse event reports prove that kratom is “not just a plant – it’s an opioid,” Gottlieb said. Kratom was also blamed for aggravating the nation’s opioid epidemic since it is readily available.
The agency used the opportunity to warn consumers that assuming that because kratom is a botanical it is safe is “short-sighted and dangerous.” Several people have died after taking the supplement. Earlier this year, several kratom products across the country were recalled after they were linked to dozens of illnesses because the supplements were contaminated with Salmonella.
FDA News Release