Kratom, also called Herbal Speed or Herbal Speedball, is the powdered leaves of the kratom tree (red sentol tree, Mitragyna speciosa) that grows in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Other names are Biak, Katawn, Krton Mabog or Mambog. The leaves, but also powder and capsules (“natural food supplements”) are mainly offered on the Internet like online kratom vendors, but with reference to other websites.
Kratom: Safe Supplement or Dangerous Drug?
The consumption of kratom powder or kratom tea for diarrhea, inflammation, fever and pain, but also for anxiety and depression is justified with alleged experiences from East Asian folk medicine. Some strains are said to have a euphoric effect. There is no scientific evidence for the use of such dietary supplements.
How dangerous is kratom?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are increasing reports of undesirable side effects: constipation, loss of appetite and liver damage, seizures, hallucinations and confusion. So far, around 50 deaths have been reported in the United States. There is a risk of addiction (addiction risk).
The powder contains various plant alkaloids apparently in very different concentrations, there are no standardizations so that the effect is uncontrollable. Currently, the FDA in the US is actively evaluating all available scientific information on the matter and continues to warn consumers against using products containing kratom or its psychoactive compounds mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
In addition, kratom products with massive salmonella contamination have repeatedly been found in recent months. Some products also contained problematic high amounts of the toxic heavy metals lead and nickel.
What is the legal situation?
In various countries (e.g. Switzerland, Australia, Great Britain, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Sweden) kratom is one of the substances to be controlled, so it is not a legal dietary supplement. In the home country of Thailand, possession, and consumption have been prohibited since 1943.
In the opinion of the authors of the arznei-telegram, however, the listing of kratom as a non-marketable narcotic is advisable for reasons of preventive consumer protection.
But at least it is questionable whether kratom can even be food. If regular consumption cannot be proven in the EU from May 1997, it is a new type of food and the plant powder would first have to undergo a safety check by the EU.