It's billed as a natural remedy and is being used as alternative to dangerous and addictive opioids.

But the unregulated herbal supplement may not be as healthful as users think.

The New Jersey Poison Control Center is warning of hazards associated with kratom (pronounced crate-ahm). The FDA has also warned that the pills may contain salmonella, which can cause severe diarrhea that requires hospitalization.

Poison Control Center managing director Bruce Ruck says one of the big issues with Kratom is that "this product has never been proven to be safe or effective."

The center reports that it has dealt with several cases of Kratom abuse or overdose that resulted in severe illness or death.

"Some people who are addicted to pain meds are actually using it to try to stop themselves from using the pain meds and the narcotics. So they are using it to help themselves wean off of narcotics," Ruck said. "We are seeing several different uses for it."

The FDA also has reports of 28 salmonella cases in 20 states, including New York and Pennsylvania. And Ruck says they have had several cases of seizures and liver problems.

"Until this is proven safe and effective, we are warning people not to use it."

He says the herb is grown in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and several other countries and is shipped to the United States.

Ruck says Kratom also carries with it abuse and addiction potential.

"If you have been using this product or if you have any questions, feel free to call at the New Jersey Poison Center, part of Rutgers University. The phone number is 800 222 1222.

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