A Jupiter couple is suing the Purple Lotus Kava Bar in West Palm Beach because they claim they've gotten addicted to its 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.
Kratom is from the coffee family and is used in places like Southeast Asia for medicinal purposes and as a mood enhancer.
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.
The couple is looking to warn others about the bar and its kratom-laced drinks, heir attorney says t. 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. Though there has been a growing number of people seeking treatment for addiction to it, it's not considered a controlled substance.
The bar's owner, Jim Scianno, told the Palm Beach Post his drinks are "just an alternative, something healthy and safe to take the edge off. It's the nemesis of coffee."
While caffeine cranks you up, he says, kratom and 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.
"I don't see anything toxic about it," Scianno says. "I'm not seeing emergency rooms fill up."
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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 many kratom drinks can cause stupor, nausea, and loss of muscle control.
"If... you feel uneasy, please don't drive," Scianno prudently writes on the Facebook page.
Although the DEA is keeping a close eye on kratom and its effects, the stuff is not illegal.