The herbal drug Kamini contains morphine and can quickly become addictive


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The Kamini herbal formulation has been in the new with a drug and alcohol treatment program in Brisbane reports 12 men accessed the service because they could not stop taking Kamini. A second group of 12 patients in Melbourne sought help for their opioid addiction by taking herbal medicines, which are usually illegally imported from India.

Kamini Vidrawan Ras causes addiction in people who use it regularly because it contains opium, among other plant and mineral ingredients. Opium is a refined plant product to make prescription drugs, including morphine and codeine, and illegal drugs like heroin.

Known as Kamini, Kamini balls and Indian Viagra, practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine prescribe it for male sexual problems including impotence, premature ejaculation and erection difficulties.

Ayurveda is a traditional Indian healthcare system that takes a holistic approach to illness. Herbal, mineral, and animal products, as well as diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes, are prescribed to improve well-being.

It is likely that many people taking Kamini are unaware that it contains opium and are unaware of the risks of regular use.

Varying amounts of morphine

Kamini is sold in handmade round pellet bottles which are swallowed. A similar product, Barshasha, comes in the form of a paste.

During digestion, opium breaks down into the “natural opiates” morphine, codeine and thebaine (a “paramorphine”). Kamini’s chemical tests revealed that the amount of morphine in a single tablet varies from 4% to 21% of product.

Opium and other similar drugs can cause repeated use because they stimulate the reward centers in the brain, causing intense feelings of pleasure and relaxation. These powerful effects weaken over time as a person develops a tolerance to the drug. It therefore takes more medication to achieve the same sensations.

When a person has developed a tolerance and stops taking the drug, they experience withdrawal symptoms. These can be physical, such as sweating, vomiting, and muscle cramps, as well as psychological, such as anxiety and drug cravings.

People using Kamini have describe tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. Typically starting with one tablet per day, within a few weeks usage is rapidly increased to 25-30 tablets per day or one bottle experience the same initial effect. At the price of $70-100 per bottledaily use becomes a financial burden.

A bottle of Kamini can hold up to 4,000 milligrams of morphine. This is a significant amount of a powerful drug. By comparison, people with severe cancer pain may be prescribed up to 2,000 mg of morphine per day, but most between 100mg and 250mg.

Unlikely to help someone stay awake

In addition to sexual issues, people have taken Kamini to try to stay awake at work. A 2016 SBS TV survey found that men in Southeast Asia were using Kamini to help them get through long shifts. Many worked in the transportation industry.

They reported getting Kamini from Asian grocery stores around Australia, without being prescribed or followed by an Ayurvedic medical practitioner.

The belief that Kamini will help you stay awake is likely a misinterpretation of its original reputation for improving vitality. But opium products have the opposite effects of stimulants, slowing down the nervous system rather than speeding it up.

Ayurvedic websites describing the composition and reasons for the use of Kamini note that it contains opium, the use of it should be monitored and the dose limited to half or one tablet per day due to the risks of drug addiction.

An online market worth billions

The use of herbal and natural preparations to improve well-being or as remedies for physical and mental problems is gaining popularity. Online availability facilitates access to a wide range of products.

In 2021, the global Herbal and Ayurvedic Medicines Market was valued at US$9.5 billion (A$14.8 billion) with an annual growth rate of 10%. India is the largest ayurvedic marketwith around 80% market share.

The ease of access and being derived from a plant might lead some people to think that Ayurvedic medicine products and others herbal remedies are harmless. Generally identified as dietary supplements, products like Kamini do not have to provide safety or effectiveness information to drug regulatory authorities in other countries.

Following the SBS investigation, Australia’s medicines regulatory authority, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), banned the importation and supply of Kamini. The TGA has not evaluated the quality, safety or effectiveness of Kamini products. In a statement published in 2016, the TGA said “these tablets pose a serious risk to your health and should not be taken”.

Get off Kamini

Kamini addiction can be successfully treated with medications such as buprenorphine and support tips.

Drug addiction can cause health, employment, relationship and financial problems.

If you have any problems with Kamini or any other medicine, free, confidential help and support is available from state health departments and helplines or you can call Australia Alcohol and Drug Foundation on 1300 85 85 84 for advice.

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