Kratom is a Southeast Asian tree with a long history of use in traditional medicine. In the region, the plant’s leaves are widely consumed for pain relief, treatment of opioid addiction and other uses.
Though its efficacy and safety are unproven, kratom use has spread to the U.S. and Europe. Now, researchers report in ACS Central Science that a metabolite of a kratom alkaloid could be responsible for the treatment’s therapeutic effects.
Currently, kratom is legal and available in the U.S. as a gray-market product, but it has an uncertain regulatory future. In the meantime, scientists are investigating the substance’s physiological effects.
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