Denver family warns others about dangers of legal herbal stimulant

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DENVER -- It's an herbal stimulant that you can buy online or in smoke shops around Colorado. But one Denver family wants you to know that Kratom could kill you.

It killed their son, husband and father, they said.

Guy Garcia was only 36 when he collapsed at his parent’s home and never regained consciousness.

His family said he showed no signs of being sick.

They later learned he had been taking a drug that’s perfectly legal.  Now, they said they want to warn others.

"He was a loving, loving man is who he was,” said Guy’s wife, Carrie Garcia. "He always had a smile on his face, constantly had a smile on his face, which we don't get to see anymore, sadly."

That smile was forever wiped away Dec. 14 because of an overdose of Kratom.

The drug, made from the leaves of a tree in Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and other areas of Southeast Asia, acts as both a stimulant and sedative, depending on dosage.

"He was sitting in that chair, working at the computer and he had the most horrendous grand mal seizure I have ever seen," said his Guy’s mom, Joy Atencio.

Guy would never recover — doctors declared him brain dead four days later.

"That was the end of his life and we know that it was the Kratom, and that's what the death certificate says," said Atencio.

His death certificate listed “apparent acute mitragynine toxicity” as cause of death.  Mitragynine is the chemical compound, commonly known as Kratom.

Carrie said her husband had used the drug in pill and powder form for two years to help combat anxiety.

He told his mom he became addicted after just three weeks.

"Everybody is all sweetness and light about this drug," said Atencio.

She said she is so frustrated that people make claim after claim online that Kratom is not harmful, not addictive and no big deal.

"I recommend this as a legal high," said one man about Kratom on YouTube.

"It's no big deal. I tell you, it is a big deal to me," said Atencio.

They said they want to bring awareness to others that a legal herbal stimulant has forever changed their lives.

"He was a healthy individual," said Carrie. "To know in such a short time that he was here, that a drug that is not regulated, that's glorified on the Internet, took his life."

Kratom is on the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s watch list of Drugs and Chemicals of Concern in 2013.

Only Indiana and Ohio have banned its sale.

Guy’s family said they will now push for a law to have it declared illegal in Colorado as well.



  • Erin Hicks

    I am so, so sorry for this family’s loss. It is a terrible time when a loved one dies, no matter the cause.

    The truth is that kratom, the plain leaf that is dried and then ground into powder, is not dangerous and would not be this gentleman’s cause of death.

    Concentrated forms of kratom such as extracts have the potential to be dangerous. And, of course, unethical vendors mix their plain powder kratom with opiates, opioids and research chemicals and *that* practice has caused more than a few deaths. But the unenhanced form of plain leaf powdered kratom is not, in any shape, form or fashion, harmful. It is just not. No amount of medical examiners writing words on official forms will change that fact.

    When a death is attributed to kratom, we always learn, without exception, that the type of kratom used was not the simply ground up leaf. The truth always comes out that the product was laced with something else or that other substances were present in the person’s system.

    I understand that the family feels that someone must be held accountable for their loved one’s death. If the parties involved are genuinely seeking the truth, kratom will not be that scape goat. Look to the vendor the gentleman purchased his kratom products from. Look at the gentleman’s order history – was he purchasing *only* pure dried leaf that was ground into powder? Or is there evidence that he was using enhanced products that are known for being laced with dangerous substances?

    If anyone is attempting to blame kratom for this terrible loss… there’s going to have to be more transparency here. I’m very sorry for this, Family of the Deceased. I cannot simply take your word for it that a plant that’s been used safely for at least hundreds of years has taken the life of your dear family member. The research just does not back up the medical examiner’s claims. I am sorry.

  • def1tones

    I have been using plain leaf kratom for the past 6 years without any problems. Except once. I suffered a grand mal seizure in may of 2010 after consuming kratom on top of a medication I was on at the time, Xanax. I hit the floor in a restaurant and woke up in an ambulance not knowing where I was or what happened. I do not know if the kratom was to blame or the combination with Xanax. However, I do know that I have taken kratom weekly since then without combining it with anything and I have not suffered and ill effects. It saved me from a serious addiction that most certainly would have killed me. Kratom saved my life and got me clean. But now I’m paranoid that maybe at high doses it can cause people to seize. The day I seized I had consumed a ridiculously large amount. Now I just stick to a few teaspoons. So I can’t conclusively say that it causes seizures alone but I had one once when combining it with Xanax. Which was really irresponsible. Another important thing to mention is that the vendor I ordered from shut down not long after I had the seizure. Without kratom I would still be suffering through addiction to narcotics and I would have no life. I am really sorry for your loss and my heart goes out to your family.

  • Tim Bergerman

    This story is a lie. I am begging the readers to understand something: pharmaceutical companies are going HARD against kratom right now. One major company is investing millions into extraction techniques to remove the primary alkaloids in the kratom leaf. This powerful (and more dangerous) new drug will be hitting pharmacies in the next 2 years and will be branded as an anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and pain relieving drug. It will take a few more years to be brought to the U.S., but this is looked at as a potential multi-billiion dollar per year industry. The investors and companies involved in this are the same ones who own CBS. I know the news stories are across the major networks, but the people who know they have a major home-run investment need to first get the plain leaf banned here in the US. So, to “Carrie Davis”, I say to you: Please use your common sense and make the ethical decision here. Please come clean with your made up lies.

    Research: primary alkaloids in kratom – these are not new to us kratom users, but it is new to the pharmaceutical companies and they intend to capitalize on it. We will be seeing those long 2 minute commercials about some middle-aged guy who used to have pain and was also sad. Now he’s vacationing with his wife and enjoying a beautiful life due to 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine. I can just see the brand name: Mitra-G. 10 years later we will see the generic FINALLY become available so people don’t have to pay $100+ for their month’s supply.

    People, enjoy this safe wonderful leaf while we still can. It will become illegal due to these false stories. And when it is re-introduced it will be as a super-potent, ultra-addictive, bonafide drug called Mitra-G. And Mitra-G is highly unlikely to contain the stems and veins which are important in warding off tolerance as well as building a dependency. Just watch.

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