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What does “kratom-associated death” really mean?

The FDA and DEA have recently been engaged in a campaign of intellectually-dishonest publicity with regard to kratom, attempting to convince the public that it is highly dangerous. To this end they have presented a list of 44 deaths in a 6 year period that they say are associated with the plant. A detailed review of these deaths reveal that in virtually every case there were other drugs in the body that are known, by themselves, to be potentially lethal.

Yet lethal toxicity has not been demonstrated in kratom itself.  And while one death is too many, these 44 dubious kratom-associated deaths do not appear to be a very large public health threat when compared to the more than 300,000 deaths attributable to other drugs in the same 6 year period.

During the same period prescription benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Klonipin, etc) alone took the lives of nearly 46,000 Americans.While it might be possible to kill yourself with kratom, in its unrefined form it is quite unlikely to kill you.

I have personally heard a medical examiner state that if any amount of a drug is found at autopsy, then that death is considered to be “associated” with that drug. The mere fact that the patient had kratom in their system, or even that family members stated that they used kratom, makes them “kratom-associated” deaths.

By the same reasoning, they are also presumably innumerable “salt-associated”, and probably even “water-associated” deaths.

The only clear caution that can be taken from all this: Kratom may have interactions with other drugs that could make them toxic at lower levels.  Thousands of drugs are known to affect the metabolism of other drugs, including many herbal medicines.  Don’t mix kratom with other drugs, particularly drugs such as alcohol, opiates or benzodiazepines, since the combination could be more dangerous than the individual substances.