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What is kratom?
Mitragyna Speciosa, also known as Kratom, is a large tree in the Rubiaceae family native to Southeast Asia in the Indochina and Malesia floristic regions. It was first documented by Pieter Korthals, a Dutch colonial botanist. The leaf of the tree contains mirtragynine and was traditionally used for its ethnobotanical and medicinal properties. The leaves of kratom have been used by the indigenous people as a stimulant in low doses, a sedative in large doses, an anti-diarrheal and pain killer. It is said that Kratom affects the human brain similarly to an opiate although there is no conclusive clinical data proving how the alkaloids works in relation to the human brain.
Kratom contains more than 25 alkaloids including mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These alkaloids act as mu-opioid receptor antagonist. The three most abundant indoles are mitragynine (9-methoxy-corynantheidine) which is responsible for 1/2 of the alkaloid content, paynanthine, and speciogynine. The two most abundant oxindoles are mitraphylline and speciofoline. Other alkaloids present include ajmalicine, corynanthedine, mitraversine, rhychophylline, and stipulatine. Mitragynine is believed, but has not been proven to be, the primary active alkaloid in Mitragyna Speciosa.
Is Kratom Legal?
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is uncontrolled in the United States with the exception of Indiana and Vermont . This means all parts of the plant and its extracts are legal to cultivate, buy, possess, and distribute (sell, trade or give) without a license or prescription. If sold as a supplement, sales must conform to U.S. supplement laws. If sold for consumption as a food or drug, sales are regulated by the FDA.
In 2012 Indiana banned the chemicals Mirtagynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, but the legal definition does not appear to cover the plant kratom. In 2012, Vermont issued a an emergency order to ban several new designer chemicals which included 7-hydroxymitragynine (one of the active alkaloids in kratom), effectively banning kratom in Vermont.
Laws change quite often and ignorance of the law does not excuse criminal conduct (Ignorantia juris non excusat)., so be sure that kratom is legal where you live before using it.
How safe is Kratom?
When taken by itself (not mixing it with other substances), the greatest risk when taking Kratom may be falling asleep while engaged in hazardous activities. Like any other substance that may be mind altering or affect your cognitive abilities, do not drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of Kratom. Always use common sense. Due to the lack of medical studies regarding the use of Kratom in relation to pregnancy, pregnant women should not take any drug or medication except at the medical advice from their physician. It is not known whether it could cause birth defects or fetal death. Once again, always use common sense regarding anything that you put in your body.
Is Kratom habit forming?
Although a small number of individuals have become dependent on Kratom (primarily in Thailand), Kratom is not habit forming when used in moderation and responsibly. When used in moderation, not daily, there is no documented risk of dependency. It is important not to get into the habit of using Kratom, or any supplement, on a daily basis. Like many stimulants [e.g. alcohol, coffee, tobacco, etc.], when used daily for a prolonged period of time, could become habit forming. You know your body better than any physician and must be diligent regarding self control. If you have a predisposition for addiction, you must treat everything with moderate behavior including the use of Kratom.
What are the effects of Kratom?
Kratom is quite unique, in that, in low to moderate doses will commonly be stimulating and in large doses has a more sedative effect. Often, the individual will experience an analgesic effect caused by the alkaloids contained in Kratom and the manner in which the brain receptors are affected. The level of effect, like any other supplement, depends on many factors including body weight, physiological makeup, tolerance level and so on.
As a stimulant, used in low to moderate doses, the individual will experience an analgesic effect along with physical energy, alertness, increased libido, euphoria, sociability, improved mindset or mood, focus and overall improved demeanor. In some cases when taken in large doses, an individual may experience edginess similar to being over-caffeinated.
An a sedative, used in higher doses, an individual will experience an analgesic effect along with euphoria, a lower sensitivity to pain, both physically and emotionally, relaxation, anti-depression and anti-anxiety. Used in excess, it may result in a prolonged sleep.
What are the active components of Kratom?
The important active alkaloids in Kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These alkaloids are responsible for pain relieving, sedative, euphoric, and stimulating effects.
Are there any reported health issues caused by Kratom?
There are very few reports regarding negative health effects due to Kratom and the circumstances reported were in conjunction with additional illegal substances combined, so there is no conclusive data showing Kratom as the cause for any negative effects. Health problems are unlikely unless one is consuming large quantities of Kratom every day. In Thailand, where many of the indigenous population use kratom daily, those dependent on it can develop weight loss and have physical withdrawal symptoms when quitting abruptly. If any, the withdrawal symptoms may include muscle aches, irritability, crying, runny nose, diarrhea, and muscle jerking. Health problems are unlikely to occur in occasional Kratom users. Like any drug or medicine, moderation is the key and individual’s reactions may vary. It is uncommon, but an individual could possibly experience an allergic or other unusual reaction to Kratom, even if used responsibly. More commonly, when using an excessive amount, an individual’s body would simply reject the substance, thus as a natural physiological reaction, may experience emesis (Vomiting) as the body's way of preservation.
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What is the effect of the new Alabama law banning kratom sales, possession, and consumption? We decided to ask residents who, up until May 10th had legal access to this helpful herb. This is what they told us.
In no other profession does the client have so little say in the choice of how satisfied he or she is, than in the services provided by a medical doctor and covered by health insurance. This fact was further emphasized when the state of Alabama further limited the choices of their citizens by making it a felony to possess or sell the popular medicinal herb kratom.
Many Alabama residents tried to express the importance of this herb for the unique relief it offers them, but the promoters of this harsh law were in a rush to pass the law and they made certain that other viewpoints went unheard.
Read more: The Impact of Alabama's Kratom Ban Harms Many Voters
The folks running the show in Alabama had a very successful technique for ignoring any science we brought to the table. We should call it, "Don't confuse us with the facts!" Kratom advocates were treated like liars, called "druggies", and were assumed to be lying to preserve access to their "fix".
Promoters of the ban in Alabama SB226 said nothing about the well-researched Florida Department of Law Enforcement report on the actual impact of Kratom on Florida in terms of law enforcement and public health. The impact was essentially zero.
Those pushing this bad bill just kept hammering away at their fear-mongering points: It hits the opioid receptors; children are abusing "Kratom"(but they meant Vivazen) and staggering around, acting crazy; they claimed there was someone in the hospital dying from Kratom -- all anecdotal evidence and hearsay, which would not be given any credence in a court of law.
Read more: Kratom - Let's Hope North Carolina Values Freedom More than Alabama
There is a lesson to be learned from the successes the American Kratom Association, together with its members and its partners, have accomplished recently. The lesson is that, by using coordinated educational campaigns to show lawmakers the benefits that Kratom is providing people in their state, we are able to keep Kratom legal almost every time. This is a simple process of presenting scientific facts and clearing up misrepresentations about this botanical. It is changing minds and the direction of our national conversation about Kratom.
This year, our work again started in Florida, where Representative Kristin Jacobs filed the same bill she was forced to withdraw last year. Ironically, a report that she requested from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) at the end of last year's session came back with some very supportive conclusions for Kratom and was provided to all the members of the Florida legislature.
Read more: The Power of Kratom Supporters Working Together
Kratom, that mysterious herb that evening news reporters urge us to fear, is actually doing a better job at ending opioid drug addiction than pricey drug rehab stays ever could. Why is there so much blind opposition to what is clearly American ingenuity at work?
The Answer Is Obvious: Money! Conventional Drug Rehab is Big Business with 40-60% Return Customers.
In the USA, painkiller addiction usually starts with a visit to the doctor. Addiction should be no surprise when we have so many painful conditions for which the medical profession has no cures. Primarily, doctors rely on pain relieving opioid drugs to ease the symptoms. Many patients manage to walk the fine line of dependence and avoid addiction, but others, for a variety of reasons, do not succeed at this tightrope act.
The widespread use of Kratom is merely a populist response to a massive problem that is not being addressed in a user-friendly fashion. We have no clear idea of how much Kratom use is medicinal and how much is recreational, but the medicinal users are more in need of a voice. They have a compelling story that is not being told -- and they stand to lose a lot, as a result, if Kratom is banned.
Read more: Kratom - A Creative Solution to America's Addiction Epidemic
Why is there a double standard in the treatment of Kratom by the media vs. the way they treat FDA-approved prescription and OTC drugs?
There is an unearned assumption that FDA-approved products are safer, but the reality is that they're not. Far more deaths, liver failures, and other injuries are caused by OTC (Over the Counter) and prescription drugs each year than are caused by natural herbs.
In actuality, the media has lost most of its budget for investigative reporting, so what they generally tend to do is copy off the FDA/DEA talking points, craft them into a news report, and call it good. As a result, they all tend to sound very similar.
The question arises, "Where do the FDA and DEA get their facts?" That's a good question. The answer is, "It's hard to tell."
Read more: Why the FDA Double Standard on Kratom?
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