FOX 29 Investigates: Kratom Craze

FOX 29 Investigates: Kratom Craze

Posted: Updated:
PHILADELPHIA -

A drug used for centuries in southeast Asia is now in the United States, and its growing popularity is getting the attention of health officials.

Health officials warn it is dangerous and addictive.

FOX 29's Jeff Cole takes an in-depth look at the new drug in town. If you have kids, you'll want to watch this story in the video above.

It's on store shelves right now in the Delaware Valley, and most anyone can buy it, including teens and young adults.

Many believe it's a harmless medicinal herb. Others, including some in law enforcement, say the drug is being abused, and it's swiftly gaining favor as a substitute for banned stimulants like bath salts and synthetic marijuana.

It's called Kratom, also known as Ketum, Thang and Biak.

The drug comes from the leaves of Kratom trees, which are native to the rain forests of Southeast Asia, including the jungles of Thailand.

Kratom powder can be made into tea, placed in capsules for oral consumption, or smoked. There's even Kratom liquid. In low doses, users say they get an energy boost. It's even said to be a painkiller.

In fact, the Internet is abuzz with videos touting the benefits of the natural herb.

But there's a darker side to Kratom. In large doses, the drug reportedly produces a high similar to some opiates, like morphine.

Health and law enforcement officials also warn of serious side effects, and the potential for addiction.

Ken Dickinson is a pharmacist and director of marketing for Gaudenzia, a community-based treatment center that provides live-in and outpatient care for substance abuse addicts and persons with mental health issues.

Dickinson says Kratom is potentially dangerous because little is known about its long-term effects. He says users have told him, in large doses, Kratom is a potent high.

Kratom is legal to buy and sell in the United State. Several countries, including Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar have banned its sale and use.

We bought Kratom at tobacco shops in Philadelphia and Montgomery County. It's also sold on the Internet. We even found someone hawking it on Craigslist. Remember, it's perfectly legal to sell in the U.S., at least for now.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration does have Kratom on its radar screen. The drug is not considered a controlled substance. But it has made its way onto the agency's "drugs and chemicals of concern" list.

The DEA says some Kratom users have exhibited "psychotic symptoms," including hallucinations, delusion, and confusion. The agency says in high doses Kratom can lead to addiction.

Some groups don't advocate Kratom's use but believe it should remain legal.

Dickinson sees it differently. He believes the drug is potentially dangerous and, without some restrictions in place, anyone could get their hands on it.

Again, Kratom is unregulated. So anyone, at any age can buy it. The stores we visited did have signs saying you had to be 18 to shop. Same with the Internet sites.

But some packaging has an age recommendation, while others don't. And as for dosages, all the products we bought had information printed on their labels, Cole reported.

  • Send A Tip To FOX 29 Investigates

    Have a tip for Investigative Reporter Jeff Cole and the FOX 29 Investigates team? Send it now!

    * denotes required fields
    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for submitting your tip!

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Only On Fox: Arsonist On The Loose In South Jersey Town

    Only On Fox: Arsonist On The Loose In South Jersey Town

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 4:45 PM EDT2014-04-16 20:45:07 GMT
    It started with a brush fire, then another fire at the rear of this home on Monroe Street and finally a blaze that swept through this vacant home up the block, just a few feet away from where Emma Sethman
    It started with a brush fire, then another fire at the rear of this home on Monroe Street and finally a blaze that swept through this vacant home up the block, just a few feet away from where Emma Sethman
  • Beautiful Easter Sunday

    Saturday, April 19 2014 8:09 PM EDT2014-04-20 00:09:12 GMT

    NICE EASTER WEEKEND

    The first half of the holiday weekend has been great and Easter Sunday looks just as nice. Clouds thin out late tonight with temperatures falling back to the 40s.

    Initially it'll be jacket weather early Sunday morning but plenty of sunshine will warm us into the 60s by afternoon.  High temperatures will be a few degrees cooler than Saturday.

    It will be noticeably cooler and breezy at the shore with highs in the low 50s.  Quiet conditions continue into Monday.

  • Overturned Boat Victim Identified, Search Continues

    Overturned Boat Victim Identified, Search Continues

    Overturned Boat Victim Identified, Search Continues

    Saturday, April 19 2014 7:38 PM EDT2014-04-19 23:38:03 GMT
    The Coast Guard have suspended an emergency search for a man who went overboard in a boat after he went missing. New Jersey State Police have identified him as 49-year old John J. Poltonowicz.
    The Coast Guard have suspended an emergency search for a man who went overboard in a boat after he went missing. New Jersey State Police have identified him as 49-year old John J. Poltonowicz.
Powered by WorldNow

KTBC FOX 7
119 East 10th Street
Austin, TX 78701

Phone: (512) 476-7777
Fax: (512) 495-7001

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices