Amid surge in popularity, some call for ban on legal supplement Kratom

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jay Humfeld is one the many people who describe the legal herbal Kratom as a life-saver.

“I used to take Adderall, and I’m completely off Adderall. I don’t need Adderall anymore,” said Humfeld, a co-owner of Hemp Haven in the city’s Crossroads Arts District. “I can stay focused. I can stay alert. I can do my job.”

Kratom comes from a leaf in Southeast Asia and has been used as an energy and mood-booster in tea for hundreds of years.

These days, Kratom is highly popular -- and widely available -- for people looking to treat anxiety or to transition off opioids. It’s sold in either tea, powder, or pill form.

“When I take it, I do feel better and more productive,” Humfeld said. “I’m more flexible and able to get through my day.”

But not everyone is so enthusiastic about Kratom.

Six states have banned the supplement, and this week St. Charles County leaders, near St. Louis, proposed a ban on Kratom.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control also have issued warnings about the potential dangers of consuming the unregulated herb.

Although Kratom is widely available at CBD stores, and even some gas stations, across the metro, not all vendors are comfortable selling the product.

“I don’t have enough evidence and research to know exactly what it does to the body years from now,” said Lea Henry, owner of CBD Plus in the city’s Waldo neighborhood.

Henry believes Kratom could be the solution for many people, but feels there’s still too much we don’t know about the supplement. She’s also concerned that Kratom is so widely available.

“There are good products of it out there, but some of those other products have other chemicals in it that will give you a bad reaction,” Henry said.

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