West Palm Beach Bar Uses Opium Substitute in Drinks; Couple Sues

Categories: Broward News

Mitragyna speciosa plant, which is used to make kratom. (via Wikipedia)
A Jupiter couple is suing the Purple Lotus Kava Bar in West Palm Beach because they claim they've gotten addicted to their specialty drinks. The reason they're addicted, they say, is because of a special ingredient in the drinks called kratom, which is actually an opium substitute.

Mmmmm opium...

Kratom is from the coffee family and is used in places like Southeast Asia for medicinal purposes, as well as mood enhancers and health problems.

Erica Siegel, 39, began hitting up the Purple Lotus two years ago and started pounding down drinks called the Komodo and the Head Mod.

The bar is located near Erica's husband Michael's office, so he soon joined her. They made the Purple Lotus their drinking hangout. But soon, they realized they began to get addicted to the drinks, their attorney says.

Their attorney says the couple is looking to warn others about the bar and its kratom-laced drinks. They're also seeking to get back the thousands of dollars they spent at the joint for the past two years.

Although the DEA is keeping a close eye on kratom and its effects, the stuff is not illegal. While there have been a growing number of people seeking treatment for addiction to it, it's not considered a controlled substance. So what the bar is doing is fine.

The bar's owner, Jim Scianno, calls it an alternative health drink:

"It's just an alternative, something healthy and safe to take the edge off," he said. "It's the nemesis of coffee."

While caffeine cranks you up, he said, kratom and its sister compound, kava, promote relaxation. Kava is a shrub native to islands in the South Pacific, while kratom is a tree that grows in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia. But their chemical compounds and effects are the same.

"I don't see anything toxic about it," Scianno said. "I'm not seeing emergency rooms fill up."

Scianno says he wants to avoid putting up signs warning people that kratom might be addictive, but he has posted a warning on the bar's Facebook page. The warning is basically something someone should heed with any alcoholic beverage: Take it easy.

Having too much kratom drinks can cause stupor, nausea, and loss of muscle control.

(Sounds fun, actually!)

"If too much Kava has been drunk and you feel uneasy, please don't drive," Scianno writes on the Facebook page.

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Doesn't look like one of the claimants is doing too well. Maybe the controlled substance she was in possession of was, hmm, an opiate? Might that cause, well, opiate withdrawals?

Erica Siegal was arrested for:







Please amend your article to fix the following: "Kava is a shrub native to islands in the South Pacific, while kratom is a tree that grows in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia. But their chemical compounds and effects are the same."

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is 4 taxonomic ranks separated from Kava (Piper methysticum). They are not even in the same taxonomic order, which would be akin to putting humans in the same category as dolphins. Furthermore, the chemical compounds are completely distinct (not even molecularly similar) and the pharmacologic mechanisms of action of the compounds are completely different, without even one pharmacological similarity. A cursory internet search will confirm all this for you and make your article slightly more accurate and worthy of being called "journalism". 

Back in the good ole' days, there were people called called "fact checkers". I would advise you start to employ some, or start have them doing their job because this is blatantly dishonest. 


Actually the man who posted below me is possibly right.  Science already knows it is less habit-forming than its cousin coffee; and I use the term habit forming as addictive is a fiscal word in which rehabs and addictionoligists (who do much good in the world) see dollar marks on a "new drug" that looks like it is going to be BIG BIG BIG!

Problem is, the rehabs jumped the gun before the initial studies came in (first big one from Ole Miss that kratom appears to be a medicinal herb (not a drug) that can wean people off of any major drug from cocaine to heroine (and all the legal opiates that md's gladly prescribe) that kill a large volume of those taking them.

Nobody has ever died of kratom. Nobody has ever overdosed from kratom. 

Now the recovery community is hemming and hawing of why it mixed kratom (a perfectly safe medical herb that has been used in SE Asia for thousands of years with no deaths, no increase in crime and no overdoses in with bath salts, drugs, synthetic marijuana; all of which are mostly likely very dangerous, and kratom has no business being in the same article or sentence with them.  Kratom is closer to coffee or St John's Worth than it is is opiates.  Sorry doctors and orther "Experts".  Do your research, not what makes the wallet feel bigger.  Cant find any?  Big study done this year at Ole Miss. Google it.  And for hundreds of years in S.E. Asia.  It's safe stuff and not even close to being a drug.

So why are they taking victim's money and housing them for 28 days for a medicinal herb that, like, say samento (cat's claw from peru) boosts the immune system, increases quality and quantity of years, is heart healthy, lowers blood pressure, and is said to work 100 times better than St. John's Wort for depressive disorder?

Oh cause thar's gold in them thar Thai hills. Well too late again. Thailand is in the process of legalizing it because they knew it was wrong to criminalize it in 1948 since they knew it was safe, but they also knew it was interfering with their legal opium trade. 

Your typical kratom user is not your stereotype. A hyper male teen looking for action? Nope.  A man in a box in the alley? Wrong again. Most kratom users in the U.S are middle age and above professionals such as doctors, lawyers, police, plumbers, college profs, etc. They simply are too educated and too smart (if they deal with severe chronic pain) to feel they would have to live the rest of their lives on deadly opiate drugs easily prescribed by almost any doctor. 

And the tolerance threshold (for me) was zero. I take the same, a very small amount for it to work; from 4-8 grams a day for zero pain; the same amount I took, the first time I tried it.

The difference now than a year ago? Zero pain whereas last year pain so severe I couldn't get out of bed. Now I hike 3 mountains a day with my wife.  I run 6 businesses and until recently was a full time adult return-to-college student on scholarship.  Could I have even thought of anything like that before kratom?   LOL. You gotta be kidding. 

We should have learned this lesson in 1935 when a bigoted drug czar (America's first); claimed Mexican men snuck it into America (called it locoweed) and kidnapped and raped our women. Within a month the govt helped fund the film "Reefer Madness" and next thing you know, a prescribed herb that was helping millions was now an illegal Schedule one very dangerous substance in the same league with heroin and cocaine.

Are we going to let a few poor parents that should be working on helping their children work on why not to experiment with any substances at all help outlaw a perfectly safe herb (safer than coffee btw...there have been deaths from coffee), who scream into the phone they are worried about their kids and its "What you tv networks broadcast on shows...and you better post something anti-this or that or............yeah, anti-kratom, that's the ticket.  Therefore I as a parent won't have to change.

There are plenty of medicinal herbs out there more dangerous than kratom.  Much more. And they've been used for years, safely.

If someone tries kratom for the first time hoping for a "party thrill" they are in for a huge disappointment.  Unless they take massive amounts, they won't feel anything very dramatic. If they have an injury the pain will lessen a great deal.

Your headline is dismal, full of agenda, and not really even journalism.  Since when is kratom an opium substitute?  Please cite your references.  It is my primary source of pain relief and I don't even look at opiates as an option. They kill people.

Kudzu, another medicinal plant is very effective at weaning off of alcohol who are having trouble with it.  Does that make it an alcohol substitute? Rhetorical question. 

Finally, the bar owner/bartender etc should be fined or jailed.  Why?  Not because of kratom.  Because they put a medicinal herb of any kind in an alcoholic drink.   If the couple got addicted or think they did, did it ever occur to anyone that could be the problem?  Or perhaps they are addicted to alcohol and the kratom happened to be in it?  Nevertheless, there should be a penalty. Nobody should mix any medicine (that means medicinal plants or allopathic chemical medicine) with alcohol without consulting with their doctor.

Kratom is not the culprit.  The company that mixed it in alcohol is; but no more than if he/she'd mixed ginseng or echinecea in an alcoholic drink. 

I challenge anyone to find a case where straight organic kratom has killed (or even injured anyone).  I dare one to show me a case where someone has overdosed on it.  I dare someone to show me they don't have an agenda of some sort, because they do. The public needs to know that.  Like marijuana, which has also never killed anyone, the government and rehabs see gold and they're going after it.

And that's just wrong.  Very very wrong. 

Danny Morin
Danny Morin

The coke in your rum and coke is more addictive.

Tracey Moskowitz Tsang
Tracey Moskowitz Tsang

I guess all the places that serve alcohol should be sued too. What happened to people taking accountability for their own decisions???


Please nix the 2nd post and read the one above it.  Thank you MT.

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