ederal Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently released a statement expressing concerns over the dangerous public health effects of the herb commonly known as kratom, the dried and ground leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree native to parts of Southeastern Asia. The herb is currently legal and sold as a dietary supplement and is usually consumed in powder form mixed in beverages or ingested via capsule.
Just How Harmful is This Plant?
The plant made news after the Drug Enforcement Administration announced last year its intention to move the substance to Schedule I, the most severely restricted category on the federal government's controlled substance list. It would join the ranks of heroin, lysergic, acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), and ecstasy. After public outcry generated significant pressure, the DEA backed off. Melvin Patterson, a spokesman for the DEA stated, "I have been with the DEA for 20 years and have never seen this level of public response."