Posted by James Quinn

Kratom. A cure to opioids?

By now the this controversial plant craze has made it all the way to the pages of The New York Times and has been a topic of discussions on Joe Rogan's podcast.  Kratom is a ground up plant from Southeast Asia that has been used by native populations for thousands of years.  Uses include pain relief, antidepressant, work productivity enhancer and more.  It's even taken for religious ceremonies among groups of people in Asia. Most people use it to relax and to take away anxiety.

The government has recently considered the possibility of classifying Kratom as a schedule 1 drug.  This would mean the government deems it both a high potential for abuse and as having no current accepted medical use. This comes after the Department of Health And Human Services called for a ban on the chemicals in Kratom that would make the supplement as illegal as heroin or LSD.  They specifically wrote a letter to the DEA last fall claiming that chemicals in Kratom should be classified as a schedule one substance.    

Kratom use has proved beneficial to thousands of Americans trying to come off synthetic pain killers and alcohol withdrawals.  The positive results have been overwhelming compared to side effects felt by some.  These are mostly confined to nausea/vomiting which is sometimes experienced.  The biggest issue that has been pressed in banning the plant regionally has been several deaths linked to the plant when combined with drinking or drugs/prescription medicine.  This is something to stress to anyone looking to try Kratom; never mix it with alcohol.  

Personally, I have been occasionally taking Kratom in tea form for several years and feel it makes a terrific mood enhancer.  I've never been addicted to opioids but I'm encouraged by the news that people who have had issues with oxycontin etc have found comfort in Kratom while trying to get away from dangerous substances.  I can not imagine that a country which prides itself on personal freedoms would make a natural substance completely illegal.  But then again Marijuana prohibition has been in effect federally since the 1930s; a plant that can grow on the side of the road anywhere.  But as far as major clinics the verdict is still out on the effectiveness of Kratom for curing addiction.  According to the Mayo Clinic, Kratom can lead to possible addiction itself with users feeling withdrawal symptoms similar to those of opioids.  They also cite that the plant is responsible for 36 deaths in the United States.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3670991/
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prescription-drug-abuse/in-depth/kratom-opioid-withdrawal/art-20402170