NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - You've heard a lot of talk about the new designer drugs like K2, Bath Salts and Spice. The government has banned many of these new substances. The latest - Kratom - has many concerned.
After getting a call from a worried mother, the CBS 11 I-Team went undercover to discover this latest substance on store shelves right here in north Texas. The mom told CBS 11 that her daughter was addicted to Kratom.
Kratom is the latest rage to hit some local smoke shops in a trend that has enraged federal agents - and parents - who are aware of the dangers.
Daniel Fabricant, Director of the FDA's Division of Dietary Supplement Programs expressed major concerns about Kratom. He said the agency is taking action, and warning people of the potential dangers. Yet, the I-Team found it very easy to find in smoke shops in North Texas - and around the country.
Kennedale mom, Patty Smith said she thought her daughter was having unusual mood swings. "This tells me someone has a problem," said Smith. But it wasn't until she discovered 80 empty bottles that she said she realized her daughter had a serious problem. "I'm sure this isn't all, but this is about $16 hundred worth of product in this bag."
Smith went on to say her daughter was taking two to three bottles of Kratom every day before they had a family intervention and took their daughter for medical help. "Ultimately I was afraid it was going to kill her, or ruin her health completely," said Smith. "I was afraid in some way this could eventually kill her."
Kratom comes from a leafy tree in Thailand where it is illegal and considered an alternative to opium. But it is shipped to the United States and touted as an herbal remedy and natural painkiller.
Some packaging even says "not for human consumption." When the CBS 11 I-Team asked a smoke shop clerk about the warning, the clerk couldn't explain the labeling.
Critics say the government's recent ban of designer drugs like K2 and Spice has increased the demand for Kratom online via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and inside smoke shops where the I-Team had no trouble finding it while undercover in four North Texas stores. One clerk recommended, "The liquid is one of the best sellers and one of my personal favorites."
According to the FDA, it has major concerns because Kratom is "not approved or controlled as a drug" but it is being marketed as a "pain reliever" as the I-Team discovered in this investigation. "It say [sic] it enhance mood, prolong sex, relieve pain," according to one clerk.
CBS 11 teamed up with other CBS stations across the country and learned Kratom is widely available and advertised as a drug. Sales clerks also repeatedly claimed it was not addicting and that it "helps with aches and pains." But in January 2013, a recent report from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) found Kratom had sedative and euphoric effects that it can lead to addiction, nausea, sweating and more.
The North Texas Poison Center has linked more than a dozen reports of Kratom use to high blood pressure, high heart rate, agitation and confusion.
Boston Toxicologist Dr. Edward Boyer said he has seen seizures and liver failure following Kratom use. "We also know some of the materials we purchase on line are adulterated with other drugs. It really is buyer beware," said Boyer.
The Smith family says if you don't believe the warning- just look at their daughter. "We're blessed and our family has pretty much got it together. And when you see one of your kiddos that hasn't been so strong [sic] to overcome, it's sad."
Packaging on some bottles of Kratom says "only for use as a botanical extract" or "not for human consumption." According to the DEA, this is the manufacturer's way of complying with the law if it does become illegal.
Federal agents say they are seizing Kratom shipments at the borders and testing it. The biggest concern is that Kratom is not regulated and nobody knows what is really in the product. There have been reports of Kratom being laced with hydrocodone and other drugs.
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