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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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I need to talk to Kratom vendors, large and small today. I must warn vendors and importers that the FDA in some regions has been seizing Kratom from very conscientious vendors who have merely posted a link to one of my articles on their web site.
When I call these vendors conscientious, I refer to their reading of the FDA rules and regulations and, in some cases, even hiring the top consultants to help them do their business the way the FDA will allow. This doesn't seem to be enough to please the FDA.
The problem is an extension of the FDA's efforts to restrict the freedom of speech on vendors. This makes it hard for vendors to properly educate their customers, especially newbies who can't understand why there is no dosing information, etc., on your web sites where you sell the herb. This, of course, is protecting the monopoly that has been granted to the pharmaceutical industry.
Read more: A Warning to Vendors
Appalachia (Kentucky in particular) has an addiction problem. The lack of jobs and abundance of opioids have teamed up to create the nation's highest rate of acute Hepatitis C infection. Now the state seems to be gearing up to ban Kratom.
It is the fear of terrible withdrawal experience that often leads addicts to find any way to continue using opiates rather than quit them, which many would love to do. Kratom makes it possible to quit opiates with virtually no withdrawal and at little expense.
Paradoxically, Kratom Is Nature's Solution to Kentucky's Addiction Epidemic
Kratom has been used for centuries in Southeast Asia, where it grows both wild and cultivated, to ease the withdrawal from opium and heroin. Oddly, the government of Thailand banned the Kratom trees in 1943 because Kratom was reducing the opium addiction there, thus cutting the Thai government's tax revenue.
Once again, Kratom cuts into someone's revenue and an emotional plea goes out across the airwaves, "Save our children from this foreign peril!"
Read more: Will Kentucky Mistake a Gift Horse for a Trojan Horse?
Something I noticed this morning that makes no sense is this: The DEA, FDA, and lawmakers do not look at the vast majority of Kratom consumers, who cause no trouble at all and are virtually invisible from an enforcement standpoint. These people, who I conservatively estimate number 3 million, use the herb for pain, overcoming addiction to far more dangerous drugs, and for a variety of other health reasons.
Instead, lawmakers and regulatory agencies focus on the relatively small number of those who abuse and over-use Kratom -- often in combination with other drugs and chemicals. When these folks have a problem, lawmakers blame the herb itself -- not the fact that it is being misused by this small segment of multi-drug abusers.
Nevertheless, the DEA and the FDA approach Kratom as if it is an unregulated "drug" and must prove itself innocent, at great cost to those who wish to sell it. This cost, if it is forced on the vendors and importers of Kratom, must be passed along to the consumers, which will make Kratom unaffordable for many who need it the most -- the disabled medical consumers, for whom nothing works as well.
I will argue that treating this miraculous herb as if it is a threat to our health until proven otherwise is a baseless accusation. It is the wrong way to look at this situation.
Read more: Let's End the War On Human Nature
Does Kratom Cause Suicide or Prevent It?
The last time Kratom was accused of causing another young man in his 20s to commit suicide, there were other legally prescribed drugs involved. Two of them had suicide warnings, listed among the side-effects. A coroner, who reviewed the medical literature on Kratom, declared that Kratom was not at fault.
Now, Kratom is again accused, but this time, the media is rushing to pass judgement -- even before the medical examiner has completed the toxicology report.
Most of the people who are familiar with Kratom would probably laugh at the notion that this herb, which has known antidepressant activity, could be suggested as the cause of a young man's recent suicide. This is the second suicide where a mother has blamed her son's death on his addiction to Kratom -- another questionable topic I'll take up in a future blog.
Read more: Kratom Accused of Causing Another Suicide
The 12-Step organizations that handle -- or should I say try to handle -- alcoholics and drug addicts with an amazing lack of success are forgetting their roots. They are, as you probably know, almost universally down on Kratom -- although this is slowly beginning to change among the more open-minded business owners.
One of the most vocal anti-Kratom forces is the recovery community which mistakes former drug addicts' use of Kratom as a form of backsliding.
In drug-facilitated recovery centers and walk-in clinics, Kratom is hated for the same reason -- and yet, they place their patients on drugs like suboxone and methadone, that are much harder to quit than heroin itself.
What Kind of "Recovery" Is That?
Read more: Kratom and the Future of Drug Rehab Centers
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