In any subject, knowledge is the key to making informed decisions. Regardless of what the subject is, educating oneself is a critical component of understanding. Unfortunately, too many people skip this important step before making decisions that may impact others. In many cases, the loudest voice is the one that receives the attention, even though that voice is not backed by subject expertise or knowledge.
This is currently the case with kratom, and regulatory agencies proposing restrictions, limits, and outright bans on the importation and retail of natural botanical products derived from the Mitragyna speciosa plant. Despite a very obvious lack of information and understanding of the plant, its constituents, and its uses, these agencies like the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Food and Drug Administration have forged ahead with proposed bans.
The critical information is out there, though, and these agencies would benefit from gaining a better understanding of the properties of kratom and its source plant material before embarking on such negative proposals.
Education and Scientific Findings on Kratom
Prior to proposing a ban on the importation and sale of M. speciosa and kratom, the product derived from this natural plant, it was clear that the DEA and FDA did not do their homework. The herbal community has had a solid understanding of the plant and its uses, while scientific studies have also been conducted that point to substantiated benefits of kratom use.
Instead of learning that:
- The kratom product does not have a chemical composition to cause overdose deaths on its own;
- Scientific research into kratom and its effects have been stifled by regulatory agencies;
- Documented benefits are clearly demonstrated by the research studies that HAVE been conducted,
The agencies still proposed limits, restrictions, and bans on importation and distribution of kratom products.
In an article published in Scientific American in September, 2013, the article’s author discussed efforts around the world to legalize kratom and to expand its use for such treatments as helping addicts overcome challenges from drug withdrawal. The article, “Should Kratom Use Be Legal?” by Larry Greenemeier, illustrates scientific understanding of kratom as researchers continue to delve into its properties and its potential uses.
The current understanding is this:
Although the pharmacology and toxicology of kratom are not yet clearly understood, kratom has demonstrated several important health benefits like:
- Reducing cravings for opioids in addicts recovering from addictions to substances like heroin and morphine.
- Helping treat some of the symptoms of depression.
- Possessing analgesic (pain fighting) properties without the risk of respiratory depression, which common opioid painkillers cannot claim.
- Funding for critical scientific study is hampered by specious claims on the part of a wide number of regulatory and investigative agencies, who have painted kratom with the same false “substance of concern” brush.
The Future of Kratom
Thanks to organized lobbying efforts by advocacy groups like Kratom United, the American Kratom Association, and the American Coalition of Free Citizens, the herbal community is being heard loud and clear. Kratom enjoys immense public support, as the DEA found out when it opened a public comment period after proposing a ban on the substance. Even the medical and healthcare communities have come out in support of continued kratom availability. A little education goes a long way, and the efforts of herbal enthusiasts, healthcare professionals, and powerful lobbying groups will continue to help protect kratom from future unwarranted ban proposals.