Kratom was involved in less than 1% of the more than 27,000 fatal ODs documented in the new study, the researchers stressed.But they noted that some postmortem examinations might have missed the presence of kratom, so “these data might underestimate the number of kratom-positive deaths.”What can’t be denied is that kratom — bought legally throughout the United States — is increasingly in the mix for drug addicts, one emergency medicine physician said.

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“While kratom accounted for just under 1% of overdose deaths in the study, what’s most concerning is that nearly 80% of persons who died from kratom had a history of substance misuse,” noted Dr. Robert Glatter, who practices emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

For example, 65% of people with fatal overdoses in which kratom was involved had also taken the often deadly opioid fentanyl, the CDC team said, while heroin was in the mix in about 33% of cases.

Prescription opioids, such as OxyContin or Vicodin, were also often found, the researchers said.

According to Glatter, people often turn to kratom — made from the leaf of a Southeast Asian plant — to ease pain. However, almost 90% of people who overdosed from kratom in the new study were not currently being treated by a doctor for pain.