Matt Dana was known around Tupper Lake, NY, as a promising young police sergeant who worked hard to root out narcotics dealers. So it came as a shock to friends and co-workers when he died suddenly this summer and an autopsy attributed it to an overdose.
It wasn’t from drugs, but from kratom, an herbal supplement sold online and in convenience stores, gas stations and smoke shops, the Associated Press reports.
Made from the leaf of a Southeast Asian plant, kratom (pronounced KRAY-tuhm) is touted as an energizer, potent pain reliever, and tool to wean people with addictions off heroin and other opioids.
Advocates of kratom dispute the coroner’s finding that it caused Dana’s death from hemorrhagic pulmonary edema, when there is blood and other fluid in the lungs.
Franklin County Coroner Shawn Stuart said that the only substance in Dana’s system was a high level of kratom and that his only physical ailment was the edema. Stuart said Dana had been making the powdered Red Vein Maeng Da strain of kratom into a paste and eating it.