Herbal opioid Kratom 'gives me my life back,' believer claims

Inside a little tin box, Nicolle Monelle keeps, with baggies of crushed leaves, all varieties of the Kratom plant. She claims a half teaspoon, with a swig of coconut water has given her a life again. She takes it two or three times a day, perhaps more if necessary.

When the Fox 9 Investigators went undercover to head shops, herbal and nutrition stores, we found Kratom for sale with big promises, but little real information about the herbal opioid.

Doctors at the Hennepin County Medical Center have had about 20 calls come into the poison control center, some apparently addicted to this plant from southeast Asia that hits the same opioid brain receptor as morphine. Doctors said it can be addictive, just like vicodin or oxycodone.

Monelle, however, who's been using Kratom for four months, says it's given her relief from chronic migraines and a slew of prescription pills.

There are cautionary stories, too. Like Ian Mautner of south Florida, and John Eden of Atlanta, two young men who became addicted to Kratom. Their parents say it led to their suicides.

The American Kratom association, a group that wants to keep the plant legal, wonders if their Kratom was laced with other drugs.

"They may be getting a hold of something that's not Kratom, something synthetic," a spokesperson said over the phone.

"That is something industry needs to address, I admit that."

No solid research exists on Kratom or how it may interact with other drugs. It's medicine by anecdote, but instead of believing in doctors, Monelle plans on putting her trust in her tin box.

"It gives me my life back," she said.

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