Because kratom products remain unregulated in most regions of the world, contamination poses a threat to kratom users. Bacterial and heavy metal contaminants found in some kratom products can put users at risk and cause adverse health effects.
This month, one research team set out to assess the quality of what Chicagoan kratom users might be consuming. They purchased a variety of kratom products from Chicago storefronts, including powders and extracts. Then, the team tested each product for bacteria, heavy metals, mitragynine, and adulterants.
Thankfully, the researchers found that none of the tested products were fortified with other drugs, such as opioids or benzodiazepines. In addition, none of the products contained enhanced levels of 7-hydroxymitragynine, a potent kratom alkaloid.
However, all but one of the products did contain elevated levels of heavy metals and bacteria. That product was from OPMS, a kratom product manufacturer that claims to lab-test their products on their website. As of this writing, OPMS is also an AKA GMP Qualified Vendor.
Like fruits and vegetables, kratom is a natural product that almost always contains some amount of heavy metals and minerals. But of the heavy metals present in the tested kratom products, the researchers identified lead as being the "most problematic."
The US EPA has identified many adverse effects of lead exposure in adults. They include brain and kidney damage, decreased nervous system function, weakness in fingers, wrists, and/or ankles, and anemia. As a result, The United States FDA recommends that adults consume no more than 12.5 µg (micrograms) of lead per day.
The highest concentration of lead in the tested kratom products was 0.58 μg/g. A kratom user consuming 22 grams or more of that powder would exceed the FDA's recommended daily lead exposure. However, most kratom users would consider 22 grams of kratom powder a high dose, even if spread throughout the day.
The authors also identified the elevated levels of nickel found in some of the tested kratom products as problematic for health, especially for heavy users. But unlike lead, the daily allowable oral intake of nickel is much higher, at 220 µg/day. As a result, the researchers concluded that "it is unlikely that even consumers who use high doses of kratom of >15 g raw leaf product per day would exceed allowable intake levels." The researchers made similar conclusions about other metals found in the kratom products, such as chromium, arsenic, and cadmium.
As for the source of heavy metals in kratom products, the authors theorized that the contamination might originate in Indonesia, where the majority of kratom is grown and exported. "The volcanic soil in many parts of Indonesia are known to contain high levels of metals, particularly Ni (nickel)," they wrote. "In addition, Pb (lead) pollution is a widespread problem in many regions of Indonesia. Further studies to examine the metal content of kratom samples from different geographic regions certainly seem warranted."
Given the prevalence of contamination in the tested kratom products, the authors concluded that "these findings highlight the need for more stringent standards for the production and sale of kratom products." Thankfully, you can reduce the risk of encountering contaminants by purchasing your kratom products from AKA GMP Qualified and trusted vendors.