Coroner warns of Kratom dangers

Monroe County Coroner Bob Hill issued a warning about the dangers of Kratom following the first lethal overdose related to the product in the county earlier this year.

A 34-year-old Columbia man died from an overdose of Kratom on March 27, Hill said. There were no other substances found in the toxicology report, Hill stressed, but the deceased did have arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), a plant native to Southeast Asia, contains the alkaloid mitragynine, which can produce stimulant effects in low doses and opioid-like effects at higher doses, Hill said.

Kratom products come in many forms including powders, pills, gums and candies. Despite being legal to purchase and consume, in both Missouri and Illinois, this substance has proven fatal.

Hill said recent warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Agency highlight the potential for this substance to result in dependence, poisoning and potentially lethal overdose. 

“I really want to push back against the perception that since it’s legal and easily accessible, Kratom is harmless,” Hill said. “Kratom can be addictive and deadly, especially for those with a history of substance abuse. We’ve already had one overdose in the county; that’s one death too many.” 

Kratom can be purchased at stores in the St. Louis region as well as online. In the St. Louis area, more than 20 recent overdose deaths have been attributed at least in part to Kratom toxicity, Hill said. 

As concern builds regarding the harmful effects of this substance, some municipalities, including St. Charles County in Missouri, are exploring Kratom bans. Others, such as Jerseyville and Alton, have already enacted bans. 

Kratom is currently banned in six states with legislation pending in two others.

“Citizens of Monroe County are strongly urged to not use/discontinue use of Kratom products and warn their children of the potential dangers of these easily-obtained products,” Hill said.

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