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Many people who suffer pain hate the side effects of opioid painkillers, and some even fear becoming addicted to the potent prescription drugs. So some are turning to a botanical substance that is now on the radar of federal health officials. "It’s a very severe pain that’s deep. It’s everywhere from the neck down,” said Andrew Troenkrasnow. He likes to be called “AZ,” and some might say that’s a small request given all that he has faced. "It’s testicular cancer, but only in my chest right there. It’s a pretty rare type of cancer. I found out about it Mardi Gras weekend last year,” he said. While working in Uptown New Orleans at Mushroom Records, the 21-year old shared his diagnosis and what he said helps with the lingering effects. "You know, a good day I might take six pills at a time, so three grams,” Troenkrasnow, aka AZ, stated. He takes Kratom powder, the Mitragyna speciosa plant native to Southeast Asia. "So I use it mostly for chronic pain related from Lyme disease and cancer,” added Troenkrasnow. "This is one brand right here, and then this is our house stuff that we do, so white, green, red. Those packs indicate the different strains,” said Christopher Hummel as he showed us some kratom products. Hummel owns Mushroom Records, which now offers a menu of kratom products for sale. Hummel said an injury led him to try kratom. "I took kratom because I was worried about sitting there for six weeks taking painkillers and having to stop. Other consumers buy it for recreational purposes. It's a stimulant, it gives you good energy. And then you get people who buy it for withdrawal symptoms,” Hummel stated. But the Food and Drug Administration said there are no FDA-approved uses for kratom, and it urges consumers not to take it.

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