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Plant Used to Treat Pain, Depression Now Labeled as Opioid

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

A plant grown in Asia that’s used by Americans to treat pain, depression, and anxiety, is now being classified as an opioid by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA is now saying that kratom contains opioid properties. The plant is not currently regulated, and the FDA is concerned about the plant's potential for abuse, addiction, and death. Currently, kratom is legal under federal law.

A Charlottesville herbalist says more research needs to be done before a definitive conclusion is made about the herb.

“We're not saying that just because it's a plant and it's natural that it's safe,” says Kathleen Maier, owner of Sacred Plant Traditions. “That's far from the truth. And yet the medicine is in the dose, so I think kratom might have a really good place in skilled practitioner medical hands."

Molly Miller - a Charlottesville woman who was reported missing in December and later found dead in her home - died of an accidental kratom overdose, according to her mother.

Doctors say a major concern about kratom is that people do not understand how much to take, which makes accidental overdoses far too common.

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