PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Researchers are looking at a tea used in Southeast Asia as a way to wean people off of addiction to opioids.
Kratom tea has been used for years by field workers looking for relief from the pain they suffer toiling away in brutally hot conditions, according to Dr. Chris McCurdy, professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy.
"They also have realized over time that many people who have used opium have utilized kratom tea in the interim when they ran out of their opium. So, they could avoid withdrawals. And a little more into that they would use this to wean people off opium."
He adds that some people say they have used kratom to get off opioids altogether.
"There's a lot of anecdotal evidence out there that this works, and there were a lot of people suggesting they were getting their lives back on track. They have energy back. They have their families back. They have their jobs back. They are off of prescription opioids but are using kratom on a pretty regular basis."
He says animal studies show that kratom tea does lessen withdrawal symptoms, and it doesn't have the same side effects, such as constipation and respiratory depression, that are seen with the current medications used to relieve opioid withdrawal.