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Coroner: ‘huge’ levels of Kratom in blood indicate cause of overdose death

Kratom – a plant-based drug lauded for helping curb opioid addiction and relieving pain – is believed to be the root cause of an overdose death in Peoria.

“The level of Kratom in (the victim’s) system was three to four times higher than the rerference range given from our forensic lab that causes fatality,” County Coroner Jamie Harwood explained.

Harwood spoke at length about his findings, in which he says the 39-year-old man’s toxicology report says he had benzodiazepine (for example, Xanax or Valium) and an excessive amount of Kratom in his blood.

“The reference range is 20-600 nanograms per milliliter,” Harwood explained. “This gentleman had 2,300 nanograms per milliliter. That’s huge.”

Kratom is legal but isn’t regulated by the FDA, so there’s some risk of not knowing the quality of what is bought.

Still, proponents say it helps with opioid or alcohol dependency, migraines, and chronic pain.

“I don’t care what people do,” quipped Harwood, “but what I do care about is public safety. And I want people being safe.”

That’s what Donna Cordes of Lacon wants, too.

In January, she lost her son Spencer to a combination of Fentanyl and Kratom. Though it’s not known how big a roll Kratom played in his death, she wants those who use it to be safe.

“You don’t know that you could unknowingly mix it with something and it could be fatal,” she said. “If this interview just saves one life, then I’ll be happy. And I know it would make Spencer happy, too.”

Mason Dowling

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