DECATUR-The DEA is warning against a substance they say is dangerous. It's a plant used in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years as a painkiller, called Kratom. The so-called "herbal remedy" is gaining popularity because it's cheap and legal. But in the past few years the number of calls to the Illinois Poison Control Center for Kratom abuse or use has risen and the DEA is warning people not to take it.
Kratom comes from a leaf in Thailand. It's a psychoactive drug compared to opium.
"It is a mild stimulant, but in higher doses, it actually acts like a sedative or analgesic,"says DEA Agent Patrick O'Dea.
You can eat it, drink it, smoke it, or sniff it. Marketed as a safe herbal supplement for pain and depression among other things it gets you high.
A simple Google search yields dozens of sellers. The I-TEAM bought kratom pills online for just over 15 dollars with shipping.
And the I-TEAM was able to find Kratom at head shops in Central Illinois.
DEA Agent Patrick O'Dea says it's a drug of concern.
"It is one of a number of drugs that we are increasingly encountering right now," O'Dea says. "That we don't know enough about, and the person who may be using this won't know enough about it either."
O'Dea says the main concern is addiction, but also the user doesn't know how the psychoactive drug will hit them.
The drug isn't regulated, but it's on the DEA's watch list.
"These are poisons that are being peddled out there and you really shouldn't take them because you really don't know enough about them," O'Dea says.
Indiana is the only state to have banned Kratom, though indirectly, through their ban on synthetic drug compounds. There have been efforts to ban Kratom in at least four other states.
There is an avocacy group called the Kratom Association fighting to keep it legal. They refute the claim that the herb is dangerous or habit forming and instead say it has value as an alternative to pharmaceutical painkillers or anti-depressants.
Some people have contacted WAND saying Kratom has helped them, and they hope it doesn't become illegal.