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Herbal supplement for pain causes concern – WOWK

IRONTON, Ohio (WOWK) – An herbal supplement known as Kratom is on health officials radar. The supplement has been in the news recently because it’s not regulated, but there’s a threat to pregnant mothers that hasn’t been seen until recently. 

Ron James is an investigator with Child Protective Services in Ironton, Ohio. He said he couldn’t believe it last week he got a case of a newborn showing symptoms of irritability, sneezing, and twitching. 

“I looked at it and thought, ‘Wow, what is this?'” James said. “Most people are unaware that it can be dangerous, especially for babies in the womb.” 

James revealed the mother, nor the baby, tested positive for anything. James explained after talking to the mother and doing some research, he figured out what was causing those symptoms. It’s Kratom, an herbal supplement, used to treat pain as well as anxiety. 

Kratom is legal. It’s often sold at herbal supplement stores, gas stations, and tobacco and liquor stores. The herbal supplement is not regulated by the FDA, and experts warn it’s difficult to know exactly what is being bought.  

Sara Murray is a nurse at Cabell Huntington Hospital. She works in the Neonatal Therapeutic Unit where babies are treated for neonatal abstinence syndrome. Murray explained why people often take an herbal supplement like Kratom. 

“Pregnant women want their baby to be safe and if they’re taking an opiate they may think it’s not safe and should use something else,” Murray said. “It would be great if it were safe but you just can’t guarantee that.” 

James said the mother and involved in his case are getting treatment and doing well. Murray added if there are pregnant women in the area having a difficult time dealing with dependency on Kratom, to call their office for help. 

13 News also reached out to Lily’s Place, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, and Cabell County Emergency Services and none have had a Kratom-related case.