Head shops push back after FDA announcement on 'kratom'

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Valley head shops are pushing back after an FDA announcement that an herbal supplement called kratom contains opioids. The federal agency has tied 44 deaths to the use of kratom.

Tim Martin of Herb N Legend estimates 85 percent of the customers who buy the supplement at his shop are looking for an alternative to pain medications. Others, he says, are using the supplement to kick an opioid addiction.

"I will never get tired of a mother coming in and giving me a big crying hug, thanking me for saving their children's life," says Martin.

One customer, who did not want to go on camera, said he made the switch to kratom because he was spending up to $2,000 a month on pain meds. He feels the supplement is a healthier and affordable option for pain management.

Medical experts say the herb is deadly. Dr. Frank LoVecchio with The Banner Poison and Drug Information Center says the supplement will not cure addiction, but it might create one.

"Decreased respirations, sleepiness, lethargy, maybe some nausea," says LoVecchio. 

"And if you take it for a couple days or weeks or so you'll develop a tolerance and you'll need more and more just similarly to what we see in opiates." 

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