FDA Finds High Levels of Heavy Metals in Kratom Samples

The FDA, which has already issued numerous warnings on the plant-based supplement kratom, said it found “disturbingly high levels of heavy metals” in kratom products it tested. The agency noted it found levels of lead and nickel in some of the samples tested at levels not considered safe for human consumption.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement that while one-time use of kratom was not likely to lead to heavy-metal poisoning, repeated use could.

FDA scientists tested 26 different kratom products. Although not legally marketed in the US, kratom has grown in popularity due to its purported pain-relieving effects, despite the FDA’s caution that the herb has opioid-like qualities. Anecdotal reports also indicate kratom is being used for depression and opioid withdrawal.

“To date, there have been no adequate and well-controlled scientific studies involving the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid use withdrawal or other diseases in humans,” Gottlieb noted.

Over the summer, the FDA reported of outbreaks of salmonella connected to kratom products. And earlier this year, the FDA warned kratom could be potentially addictive and linked 44 deaths to kratom use.


Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is an associate editor at BioCentury, which provides news and information about the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Prior to joining BioCentury in 2019, Jonathan worked for MedShadow as content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.


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