The FDA Called Kratom an Opioid, Which Is Pretty Misleading

Opioids are, by definition, compounds that interact with opioid receptors; that doesn’t make them good or bad.

By Jesse Hicks

On Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration issued another warning about the alleged dangers of kratom, the herbal supplement used as a pain reliever and to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. The agency says it used a computer model to assess the molecular structure of compounds found in the plant and declared them opioids with “potential for abuse.” It also released data on what it says are 44 deaths associated with kratom use, up from 36 kratom-linked deaths in a November warning.

But critics say the FDA’s computer model isn’t the “novel science” it claims, and that the list of kratom-related deaths—the implication being that the plant may be killing people—isn’t as clear-cut as it may seem. While the agency touts its “significant steps to advance the scientific understanding,” other researchers are skeptical about the FDA’s approach.

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