Yesterday, Business Insider posted an article entitled “A ruling is imminent on the legality of a controversial drug that’s used to treat addiction – but some have called it a ‘dangerous opioid’”. The sensationalist title is bad enough, but the article goes on to say “One thing missing from the debate about kratom: hard science on how it works.”
This is the kind of misinformation that we’ve long been attempting to combat on this blog.
Let’s get right down to it, lest we waste any time going over what Business Insider already did in their woefully short and inadequate coverage. Yes, kratom has drawn criticism from bureaucrats and government bodies because it has been misused by those looking to kick their opioid habits and yes, there have been some fatalities related to kratom use.
In the past, the FDA has reported 44 deaths attributed to kratom use; of those 44 deaths nearly all of them involved individuals who were either on numerous substances at the time of their demise or individuals who suffered from preexisting conditions.
Setting aside this very small number of kratom-related casualties—since more than 46 people died from prescription painkiller overdoses per day in 2016 alone—the real problem with mainstream media coverage on kratom is that it focuses solely on the opioid crisis and neglects to mention the multitude of reasons why thousands of American citizens turn to kratom as an herbal supplement.
Pharmacokinetic studies of kratom’s active alkaloid mitragynine have found that it possesses anti-depressant and anxiolytic properties. As such, it has been implemented in cases where individuals suffering from anxiety or mood disorders wanted to manage their symptoms without resorting to prescription medications.
In one such study, 10 healthy male subjects were administered kratom in a controlled environment and completed the study without adverse reactions. This study also found that kratom could be developed medically as a substitute to traditional prescription pain killers, although that could be seen as conjecture.
Nevertheless, the point stands that kratom has plenty of hard science behind it if one bothers to do their due diligence. An additional study investigating the antioxidant and anticancer functions of mitragynine and its analogues in vitro found that it demonstrated antioxidant value and determined that it could be promising in those areas as a chemopreventive compound.
Kratom leaf extract’s antidiarrheal effect has also been noted by the scientific community which explains why many with conditions like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) have burned kratom to reduce their symptoms or assuage stomach issues.
Kratom possesses a host of potential effects and benefits, carrying anti-inflammatory, antitussive, antipyretic and euphoric properties, making it a unique and versatile Ayurvedic herb. Its purported ability to relieve cough, diarrhea, depression, chronic pain, insomnia and more clearly makes it a threat to Big Pharma.
Lo, the war on kratom is waged and the mainstream press goes along with it. That’s what we’re facing down here when sites like Business Insider present kratom in the light that they do. In the last few years, the Mitragyna speciosa (read: kratom) plant has become the most maligned naturally-occuring herb since marijuana, a fact which is fitting given their mutual capacity for putting users in a good mood and with side effects that are minimal when held up against their pharmaceutical counterparts.
To put that into perspective, consider this: Kratom’s known side effects include any or all of the following:
At larger doses it may also cause trouble breathing, seizure or liver damage. And we’re not one to obfuscate the truth, so yes, chronic kratom use can result in kratom tolerance and kratom addiction.
Now, let’s compare that to one of the pharmaceutical industry’s bestselling prescription pain meds, Oxycontin. This synthetic opioid can cause all of the following side effects:
As anyone can plainly see, prescription drugs like Oxycontin carry far more potential health risks than Mitragyna speciosa and its key alkaloids. The overdose death rates in the United States are staggering with the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) noting a 22-fold increase in the total number of fatalities from 2002 to 2017.
In 2018, synthetic opioids (primarily illegal Fentanyl) were involved in 50% of opioid-related deaths. That’s 19,413, to be exact and that number is only growing as more and more people develop long-term addictions to short-term pain treatments.
If there’s one thing that Business Insider’s article, and many articles just like it, fail to consider is how the people who use kratom feel about it. One can look on countless forums and find innumerable testimonials from persons who are passionate about the herb that alleviated their problems and helped them to reclaim their lives.
In Reddit post after Reddit post, users have said that kratom saved their lives. One person talks about the deep depression that dogged them for a number of years and how kratom helped them feel motivated, optimistic and excited again.
They write, “I still have the occasional bad day, and sometimes struggle with insecurity and fear of my future. But even at its worst, a day when I fall into depression is still 90% better than it used to be before kratom, and I always recover after two or three days at most.”
Posts like these illustrate something that pharmaceutical lobbyists are pushing hard to bury—the simple fact that kratom has done more harm than good when we look at the bigger picture. Fortunately, there are organizations like the American Kratom Association who are giving voice to these individuals and making sure that politicians are educated about the real scientific data behind kratom before a kratom ban can be enforced.
To learn more about what you can do to keep kratom legal, visit their website here.
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