By Paul Kemp and Susan Ash
The traditional Southeast Asian herbal remedy kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) has recently been the feature of dozens of media hit-pieces across the country due to misguided attempts by a few states (and one recent success in Alabama) to ban it and/or make it a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Why try and ban it? Because lawmakers are mistaking it as the new, dangerous synthetic drug the media is falsely portraying it to be, believing the hype about its abuse potential, and panicking.
The American Kratom Association (AKA), a non-profit group of consumers who do not benefit from the sale of kratom in any way, would like to address this mis-characterization of a unique herb that tens of thousands of Americans prefer as a natural, herbal alternative to help relieve a variety of common maladies, including addiction.
The most recent hit-piece picked up all over the country, States ban kratom supplement over abuse worries, has Melissa Brown of the Associated Press claiming “it could be as addictive as heroin,” backed by nothing but opinions from the drug recovery business, which stands to lose a lot from what we believe to be a better means toward recovery with higher success rates than either abstinence-based or medication-managed recovery programs. Ms. Brown’s claims are not backed by research and science, however.
According to AKA Founder, Susan Ash, “Making kratom Schedule 1 would put this plant, neither new nor synthetic and in the same family as coffee with a similar history of safe use, in a category of drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines - drugs with the highest potential for abuse and no medicinal value - when Kratom is safely improving and changing lives, especially those affected by addiction and other chronic conditions, every day.” Here are just a few examples of those lives being changed: www.americankratom.org/success_stories.
No scientific study in kratom’s hundreds of years of history of use conclusively indicates kratom is any more dangerous than coffee, many studies point to its medicinal value, and at least 4 patents have been filed on the plant’s primary constituents in hopes of turning them into safer prescription alternatives to current drugs on the market. This patent, proving the benefits of kratom as a safe, never fatal therapy for treating opioid addiction, tells the remarkable story the AP article neglected to reveal: Methods for Treating Withdrawal from Addictive Compounds
The rise in the popularity of kratom is due in large part to its success in 1) serving as an effective natural option to help relieve pain, anxiety, depression, etc. in people who have never experienced addiction and 2) helping those who have unwittingly become addicted to opioids and even heroin, after beginning with legitimate doctor’s prescriptions, stop abusing these drugs. Kratom’s success as a DIY method for relief from a variety of common issues/ailments and as opioid addiction therapy (in the midst of our country's opioid epidemic) threatens the burgeoning pharmaceutical and recovery/rehab industries. Of course these industries want lawmakers to believe it's dangerous; kratom is a direct threat to their bottom line since no one can patent a plant.
One of the many additional benefits of kratom is that countless veterans say it is the only thing that has let them get back to living normal lives, free of PTSD. A similar scenario will no doubt contribute to more military veterans’ suicides if more states such as North Carolina, currently considering legislation, criminalize the sale, use, and possession of this herb.
“I myself have suffered from moderate PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder after several deployments to Iraq. So far Kratom seems to totally alleviate those symptoms.
“At first I thought this must be too good to be true, but the more I read, the more I am impressed with the benefits and safety of the plant.” -- Nick, U.S. Army vet
A former kratom vendor in Alabama, which made kratom a Schedule 1 controlled substance on May 10th, recently shared with AKA, “I had a friend and a customer that came in every day to buy Kratom. It helped him stay off opiates and other drugs. Then they banned Kratom and now he died from opiate overdose. It really hurts my heart that he tried so hard to stay off the pills and his addiction took his life.” AKA predicts there will be more deaths, as those who have been using Kratom to successfully keep pain, depression, addiction, PTSD and other things at bay, will lose the one thing they have found to safely work. These people will be forced back on prescription drugs that were either ineffective for them or caused too many undesirable side effects, or will be forced back into addiction.
Regarding the proposed ban on kratom in North Carolina, AKA’s Ash said, “ We hope North Carolina doesn't make the same mistake Alabama recently did. We ask our supporters to please keep up the effective emailing and phone call campaign.”
The American Kratom Association was formed to organize and represent a community of responsible consumers, provide the general public with clarification surrounding matters of health and wellness where kratom could play an important role, educate lawmakers and regulators and support scientific research efforts.