Despite local man's death, kratom users feel herb is safe

Federal officials tried to regulate the herbal substance, but changed its mind after a public backlash.

GULFPORT, Fla. — Some have never heard of the herbal supplement called Kratom.  But at the Low Tide Kava Bar in Gulfport, it’s flowing in the form of Kratom Tea.
 
“It’s a great social lubricant without getting the drunk feeling of alcohol,” said Low Tide General Manager Matt Wright.
 
The leaf from southeast Asia is dried and powdered and served in a drink form sweetened with lemon.  Customers consider it perfectly safe despite the first-ever death of a Bay area man who overdosed taking an extract version of the herbal supplement.
 
“It’s all about moderation,” said customer Wendy Woods.  “You just have to be careful and know what you’re ingesting.”
 
According to an autopsy report, 27-year-old Christopher Waldron died July 7.  The cause of death: intoxication by Kratom. 
 
The medical examiner reported finding a high level of the supplement in his blood along with a muscle relaxant.   A thyroid issue was also mentioned.
 
Waldron’s mother tells 10News the packaging that the herbal supplement her son took came in had no instructions for safe dosage.
 
“What we tell everybody, don’t just take Kratom that you buy off the internet or in a head shop,” said Wright.   Get it from someone that knows what’s going into it.”  
 
Last year, the DEA listed Kratom as a “drug of concern” and considered making it illegal but later decided to hold off until the Food and Drug Administration had more time to study the substance to determine its possible medicinal value versus the potential for abuse.
 
The FDA won’t say when their analysis of Kratom will be complete. 
 
For now, customers at Low Tide will continue to enjoy Kratom’s effects, confident when used responsibly it can be perfectly safe.
 
“I would love to see more studies coming out,” said Wright.  “I want to be able to prove to people that it is as safe as I know it can be as long as you don’t abuse it.”
 
 

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