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CDC Report Shows That Practically All "Kratom Related" Deaths Are Actually Due To Heroin And Other Heavy Drugs

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a blog post in May 2019 which explicitly states “More than 90 deaths in the United States have been caused by kratom between July 2016 and December 2017, according to a CDC report”. This is a good example of a news outlet jumping to a drastic and misleading conclusion about Kratom via misinterpreting data. Indeed, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) report referenced in the JAMA blog post does not say that Kratom caused 90 deaths, rather Kratom was present in the blood of 90 people who died, while practically all of these victims were also taking heavy drugs.

The CDC report analyzed 27,338 overdose deaths between July 2016 and December 2017, and 152 (0.56%) of these overdose deaths tested positive for Kratom, while the coroner ruled that one of the causes of death for 91 of these cases was Kratom. However, 84 of these 91 victims had heavy drugs in their system besides Kratom.

51 of the cases had Fentanyl in their system, which is a sign of illicit Heroin use since Fentanyl is commonly found in cut Heroin, and is a common cause of overdose death. Further, 23 of the cases had Heroin in their system. It seems extremely nonsensical that a coroner would even list Kratom as a cause of death if a victim had Heroin or Fentanyl in their system, since Heroin and Fentanyl are well-known as the most lethal drugs which exist, since they cause extreme respiratory depression.

24 of the cases had benzodiazepines in their system, and benzodiazepines are known to cause respiratory depression as well. 22 of the cases had prescription synthetic opioids in their system, which are also well-known for respiratory depression. 11 cases had alcohol in their system, which is known for causing overdose deaths due to respiratory depression, especially when combined with synthetic opioids and benzodiazepines. Finally, 15 cases had cocaine in their system, which is well-known for causing heart attacks.

All in all, only 7 cases tested positive for Kratom without other drugs being found, and the CDC admits that the presence of additional substances cannot be ruled out in these cases. Indeed, many dangerous ‘research chemical’ drugs still cannot be tested for, and also the common drug of abuse cough syrup (DXM) is not tested for in this study either, and these last 7 cases could very well be due to drugs which the CDC simply did not test for in this study. Also, the last 7 cases could be due to other medical conditions.

Ultimately, the CDC did not say that any of these deaths were directly caused by Kratom. Yet, the JAMA incorrectly states that Kratom caused 90 deaths based on this data, likely in an attempt to generate anti-Kratom hype.

Indeed, there has yet to be an overdose death anywhere in the world that has been scientifically proven to be due to Kratom.

On the contrary, Kratom could be saving untold numbers of lives, since it gives drug dependent individuals and pain management patients a relatively safe alternative to synthetic opioids. As explained in a previous article on The Kratom Herald, Kratom is an atypical opioid, meaning it brings about effective pain relief but has a very low addiction, withdrawal, and overdose risk relative to synthetic opioids since it is essentially incapable of recruiting beta-arrestin-2, and it is a delta-opioid antagonist.

Most importantly, Kratom causes little, if any, respiratory depression due to the lack of beta-arrestin-2 recruitment, so overdose deaths from the lungs shutting down simply does not happen with Kratom. In the CDC report it is clear that almost all of the deaths were due to the lungs shutting down from heroin, fentanyl, synthetic opioids, benzodiazepines, or alcohol.

Therefore, readers should always be highly skeptical of sensationalist news articles which say Kratom is deadly, since those sort of articles misinterpret the data to reach that incorrect conclusion.