ST. LOUIS ( -- People say it can relieve anxiety and pain, even give you a boost of energy, but others say it can kill you.

Kratom is legal in Missouri and Illinois and it's being sold in an increasing number of places around St. Louis.

In Franklin County, Nick Stosz’s wife bought into the Kratom craze. Stosz says his wife Julie purchased it for the same reason so many others do.

“She had a friend that told her about this stuff called Kratom...she was feeling a lot of pain and everything,” Stosz said.

Sometimes it's sold as a capsule, sometimes it's sold as a powder. Julie purchased the powder and mixed on a regular basis with her orange juice.

“Within a week she had good results and was able to sleep, able to relax, it really calmed her down," Stosz said.

But after using it several times a day for several months, everything changed on the morning of February 7, 2019; Stosz found his 49-year-old wife unconscious on the family room floor.

“That was actually the day I was supposed to go back to work. I found her,” Stosz described.

He was baffled until the medical examiner showed him the autopsy report.

“When they told me she died of Kratom poisoning, I lost my mind. The one thing we thought was giving her some kind of quality of life back is the thing that killed her," he said.

The cause of her death on the report is listed as Mitragynne intoxication. Mitragyna is commonly known as Kratom.

The product is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, the agency warns consumers "not to use" it.

The FDA is aware of 47 deaths that may be Kratom-related while the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) refers to it as a substance of concern.

Because it's not regulated, dosing instructions aren't provided.

A News 4 producer visited several stores undercover around St. Louis to inquire about this unregulated product.

At one store he was advised to experiment on how much to take until he found his “sweet spot”.

At another, he was given handwritten instructions on how much to take.

The canisters Julie Stosz purchased read "customer is held accountable for any actions or choices as a result of use or misuse of this product."

David Palatnik owns nearly a dozen CBD Kratom stores in the St. Louis area.

Julie Stosz did not purchase her Kratom from one of Palatnik’s stores.

He says Kratom is not dangerous and he takes it daily.

“You can't overdose on Kratom, you might feel nauseous, but you can't overdose on Kratom. That is proven scientifically (by the) The American Kratom Association and the University of Florida," he told News 4.

News 4 contacted the University of Florida pharmacist that conducted the Kratom study Palatnik was talking about.

The study was actually a survey of 8,000 Kratom users and the drug's impact.

News 4 asked Dr. Oliver Grundmann if the study scientifically ruled out that a person can’t overdose on Kratom. He responded, “No, no, basically a survey can’t prove something like that because a survey only evaluates only what users are using Kratom for.”

Dr. Michael Mullins is a Washington University physician that specializes in toxicology.

He told News 4 he does not think Kratom “is a safe product and I would recommend not buying it...I would not use or recommend for my patients."

Two years after Julie's death, Nick Stosz said, “My whole goal is to see it pulled off shelves (I’m) beyond infuriated, this thing that was supposed to help her, killed her.”

Stosz is now on a mission to warn others about the dangers of the product that's banned in six states.

Closer to home, Alton and Jerseyville, Illinois prohibits the sale of Kratom.

According to the office of the regional medical examiner, which covers Franklin, Jefferson and St. Charles Counties in Missouri, there have been eight Kratom-related deaths, including Julie's since 2017.

The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office stated "we started seeing Kratom-related deaths in May of last year."

In Missouri, there is a push to regulate Kratom, something store owners like Palatnik agree with.

The Kratom Consumer Protection Act would prohibit sellers from mixing Kratom with any dangerous non-Kratom substance, but the bill will not require physician oversight.

Medical experts aren't even sure how much it would take for someone to overdose.

News 4 reached out to the manufacturer of the Kratom Julie Stosz was taking and have yet to to hear back.

Stosz has since hired an attorney.

As for Palatnik, he says business is good. He continues to expand his stores and just opened inside the St. Louis Galleria.

Copyright 2019 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All Rights Reserved

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