HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - On July 7th, Christopher Waldron became a statistic he never wanted. The 27-year-old's death is the first ever confirmed from using the herbal supplement Kratom in Hillsborough County.
The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy report lists the cause of death as “intoxication by Mitragynine (Kratom)."
The toxicology report shows that Waldron’s levels for Mitragynine were 1.8 mg/L. That level, according to the toxicologist was extremely high compared to levels they’ve seen.
Associated Medical Examiner Leszek Chrostowski told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska if Waldron didn’t take Kratom, "the guy should be alive.”
“He didn't want to die, he didn't want to die,” Laura Lamon said.
Lamon said her son struggled with an addiction to prescription painkillers for more than a decade. When she got the phone call from Tampa Police that her son might have died from an overdose; she assumed it was from a prescription painkiller.
“I was shocked, I thought it would for sure be opiates, for sure. I had no idea about this,” Lamon said.
Lamon said she found two empty packets of Optimized Plant Meditated Solutions (O.P.M.S.) Gold. On the front of the packet is the name of the supplement, Mitragyna Speciosa Botanical Extract. The back of the package says the product contains Mitragyna Speciosa Leaf Extract and that it contains 60mg of Mitragynine.There are no instructions on the packet, just a warning that says “only for use as a botanical specimen. Manufacturer of this product takes no responsibility for the misuse of this product.” Then it gives a link to their website for another disclaimer.
If it were properly labeled than he would've had a chance, you know, to say OK I shouldn’t take this amount,” Lamon said. “Again, I don't know how much he took, but it was enough to kill him.”
Many people might be wondering what Kratom is. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “ Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a plant consumed throughout the world for its stimulant effects and as an opioid substitute (1). It is typically brewed into a tea, chewed, smoked, or ingested in capsules (2). It is also known as Thang, Kakuam, Thom, Ketum, and Biak (3). The Drug Enforcement Administration includes Kratom on its Drugs of Concern list (substances that are not currently regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, but that pose risks to persons who abuse them).”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there have been hundreds of cases of Kratom exposure reported to poison centers. During a study period from January 2010–December 2015. the CDC said the “U.S. poison centers received 660 calls about reported exposure to Kratom.”
Lamon said her son started using Kratom to beat his opioid addiction. Waldron’s autopsy report showed he had no narcotics in his system, something Lamon said she was proud to see; that he was trying to beat his addiction.
“He was extremely open about his addiction. He talked to me, he wanted to be better, he was embarrassed about it. He was sad, he wanted to kick drugs. He hated it and said it just got a hold of me, we talked about it all the time,” Lamon said. “I was glad that he was being truthful and at the end he really was clean.”
We reached out to the distributors and the company that produces O.P.M.S Gold, that is the product Lamon said she found in her son’s room. We reached out for comment, but have not heard back.