Walter C. Prozialeck, PhD, a professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL, has analyzed about 100 studies on kratom up until 2016 and now consults with other kratom researchers.
He says unscientific reports suggest kratom is less addictive than opioids, but he says many companies in the U.S. advertise it as a legal high. Several Southeast Asian countries have outlawed it.
“By any measure, kratom would be less harmful and less addictive than something like heroin. If you look at the evidence, you have to conclude that,” Prozialeck says. “But kratom can induce a state of physical dependence.”
“It is probably addictive, but its addictive equivalent is something like coffee, which isn’t surprising because the leaf is in the coffee family,” says Christopher R. McCurdy, PhD, a professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
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