Does Kratom Save Lives?

Mitragyna speciosa (kratom) leaves

 

The debate in Washington regarding the risks, and health benefits and safety of kratom continues to intensify. Kratom proponents tout kratom as a safer and less addictive alternative to opioids for the management of pain and opioid addiction. The anti-kratom faction who is in bed with big pharma, argues that kratom, itself, is a dangerous and addictive drug that ought to be banned. Given the widespread use of kratom and the extensive media attention it is receiving, it is important for physicians, scientists and policy makers to be knowledgeable about the subject. The purpose of this commentary is to update readers about recent developments and controversies in this rapidly evolving area. All of the authors are engaged in various aspects of kratom research and it is our intention to provide a fair and balanced report and conclusion that can form the basis for informed decisions on kratom policy. Our conclusions from these analyses are:  User reports and results of preclinical studies in animals strongly suggest that kratom and its main compound alkaloid, mitragynine may have useful activity in alleviating pain and managing symptoms of opioid withdrawal, even though well-controlled clinical trials have yet to be done.  Even though kratom lacks many of the toxicities of classic opioids, there are legitimate concerns about the safety and lack of quality control of purported “kratom” products that are being sold in the US. (c) The issues regarding the safety and efficacy of kratom and its mitragynine constituent can only be resolved by additional university research. Classification of the Mitragyna alkaloids as Schedule I controlled substances would substantially impede this important clinical research on kratom.

“As a long time user I think banning it is a terrible idea. After 5 surgeries on one of my knees the doctors were more than happy to keep prescribing me all different kinds of Medicine. But when I found this plant it truly was a game-changer. I can take a little in the morning and a little in the afternoon and get through the day almost pain free. The people who take it responsibly should not have to suffer because of the people using it for all the wrong reasons. And yes I understand it can be a danger just like many other pain-killing chemicals but there’s nothing worse then when a few bad apples have to make everyone else’s lives harder. I buy my kratom from a reliable source I do have a problem with it being sold in gas stations across the u.s. more research and I agree more regulation needs to be done but Banning it is not the answer.”

“Kratom has completely improved my way of life. I have chronic pain, 4 kids and 2 jobs. It’s so tempting to try and buy painkillers illegally because some days I just can’t get going. Kratom has helped me to get through the days and play with my kids without a pill high (unless I mean to take a euphoric amount), my focus has improved, I’m eating better, less depressed….
I do worry about becoming addicted, not to a high, but to being able to be normal and then finding out it’s dangerous. The worst side effect so far has been extreme sweating. My bowel movements are normal now too. Thanks for covering this! You are so understanding sounding for a dr. All my doctors treat me like a drug addict.”

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