Is kratom safe to use?

By Nina Chhabra on April 16, 2019

Kratom is a plant from Southeast Asia.  It is available as a herbal supplement that is often used to help patients wean off of opioids, or to use in place of opioids.  This is because kratom can produce opioid-like effects. 

Although kratom is a herbal supplement, it is generally considered not safe for use.  It has been linked to the cause of overdose in at least 91 deaths in 27 states as reported by the CDC.1 Within this group of overdose, almost all individuals had tested positive for multiple substances, however, 7 individuals had tested positive for only kratom. Kratom also can have side effects similar to opioids, such as respiratory depression, nausea and vomiting, and can cause withdrawal symptoms once discontinued. Other side effects from use can include aggression, hallucinations, insomnia, and seizures.

At this time, patients should be warned to avoid the use of kratom as its effects can potentially cause harm.  Kratom also has the risk of abuse potential, and it can interact with other pain medications a patient may be taking simultaneously. The FDA has issued safety warnings and also advises against the use of kratom as a supplement.2


If you have any other questions regarding the use of kratom, send an email to

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Please note the above uses have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consumers should consult with their health care provider before taking any new medication or dietary supplement — especially pregnant or nursing mothers, children under 18, and individuals with a known medical condition.

Nina Chhabra earned her doctorate in pharmacy from St. John's University in New York. Prior to her becoming a Natural Medicines Specialist, she worked in a community pharmacy and as an inpatient pharmacist, focusing on diabetes and heart failure. She has served on the New York State Council of Health-system Pharmacists and has given continuing education lectures regarding diabetes treatment to her peers.