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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."
I have read many of the research studies done on Kratom (aka, Mitragyna speciosa) and much of what these "watchdog" agencies claim doesn't jibe with what I've read in the published science. Sometimes, as in the issue of whether or not Kratom causes "respiratory depression", none of the published reports agree with what the FDA/DEA say.
Other of the DEA's fanciful claims I have debunked: HERE and HERE.
"Direct Kratom overdoses from the life-threatening respiratory depression that usually occurs with opioid overdoses have not been reported", says Oliver Grundmann, clinical associate professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Florida, who recently reviewed the research on Kratom for the International Journal of Legal Medicine." from VICE.
Much negative press is painting Kratom, the humble leaf of a tree related to the coffee plant, as the next big threat to our young people. This appears, on closer inspection, to be the usual case of "the pot calling the kettle black". Any thinking person will realize that legally prescribed drugs are the HUGE problem the FDA and DEA are trying to contain by making opioid narcotics harder to get -- even for those with legitimate prescriptions and chronic pain.
Kratom use is not a significant problem for Emergency Rooms and drug rehab centers. Poison control centers report nearly no Kratom-related calls (Meanwhile high-quality heroin floods the country from Afghanistan, Mexico, despite all the money we pay for drug interdiction. Puzzling indeed!)
Kratom is helping the FDA and DEA get people off narcotics, both legal and illegal, but all the media wants to report is the danger Kratom poses to our innocent young people who are looking for a "legal high".
Think about it: Chronic pain patients may have been taking oxycodone, hydrocodone, or morphine for 10 or 15 years. How are they supposed to live without pain relief? Pill mills for a time picked up the slack, but now they have been shut down.
Kratom is merely picking up the slack and people who have been bedridden, out of work for months and years, due to the side-effects of the opioid medications, Lyrica, antidepressants, gabapentin and others, are now returning to work, taking care of their kids, and feeling much better. Shouldn't this be a cause for celebration?
There has been only reluctant mention of this happy phenomenon by news reporters -- and usually with some hint of doubt in their voice.
Meanwhile, a casual observer might wonder if the DEA is actually trying to promote the use of Kratom by young people? Maybe they want kids to get violently nauseated as a warning to stay away from all legal highs. I have even seen DEA agents mention that some Kratom users SNORT the powdered herb! Loose talk like this, on the part of the DEA, will no doubt cause a few naive young people to try this.
I heard from someone I know who was raided by DEA that DEA agents were so unfamiliar with Kratom that they seriously thought people smoke it! Perhaps they are confusing Kratom with Spice, an herbal mixture laced with synthetic cannabinoids.
And yet, the language and description of side-effects given by the DEA and FDA often sound attractive to the young people who are looking for an affordable legal way to get "high" -- as crazy as the notion of a "high" sounds to those of us who prefer Kratom because it doesn't get us high. (Many people who use Kratom daily, would never think of using marijuana for pain, etc., even though medical marijuana might be available to them). Most Kratom consumers just want pain relief, relief from anxiety, depression, and fatigue -- not the brain fog and confusion of drugs.
This is a very puzzling situation. Can the DEA be so un-hip to think they aren't alerting kids to possible good times to be had with Kratom when they sternly report (with a straight face, even) of hallucinations being a major, apparently common side-effect of Kratom use?
Kratom is nothing like what the kids really want, so the DEA's strategy may be a little like "Aversion Therapy" -- a way to trick them into consuming too much of a substance that is well-known NOT to cause fatal respiratory depression or otherwise serious side-effects -- but merely makes them violently nauseous, have a headache, and swear never to touch the stuff again.
How else could the media -- who are just reading from the DEA/FDA's talking points -- get it so consistently, outrageously wrong (unless it's on-purpose)?
Dropping hints that Kratom causes respiratory depression, heroin-like effects, cocaine-like effects, hallucinations, delusions, and the rest are very appealing to those who are looking for those sensations. Even talk about severe withdrawal symptoms leaves one segment of the audience thinking that Kratom is just like their opioids-of-choice, but cheap and legal.
Except it isn't. Kratom really doesn't lend itself to getting "high", though some people will try, anyway.
The consumers of Kratom that the FDA/DEA seem to be purposely ignoring are the medicinal users.
I suppose acknowledging that people are using Kratom to get themselves free of addictive and toxic pain-relievers, antidepressants, muscle relaxers, and benzodiazepines, would give credence to the fact that there may be some actual medicinal uses for this unapproved New Dietary Ingredient (NDI). They aren't willing to concede that yet. They must be convinced with additional scientific research, proving the safety and efficacy of this plant.
Now, every excuse in the book is being thrown at this humble herb to keep those who prefer it to chemical drugs from having it. Why? Looking at the death statistics for the past ten years, FDA-approved drugs are killing far more people than illicit drugs, so what's the advantage there?
An article in the New York Times tells us that former heroin addicts are now becoming addicted to this new foreign substance, Kratom, intimating it must be bad for the rest of us. The argument that, because those with addictive tendencies are likely to abuse Kratom, too, says nothing about the millions of medicinal Kratom users who manage to use the plant without becoming addicted.
Are we planning to ban opioid painkillers, too, because a small percentage of those to whom they are prescribed become addicted to them, as well? That is a ridiculous argument. Didn't our country try banning alcohol many years ago to protect the many from the abuses of the few? How did that work out?
We are told that Kratom causes -- in those who use it in extreme quantities, or perhaps in combination with other drugs -- extreme behavioral changes. Isn't that the nature of addiction to anything?
These same people were using pharmaceutical drugs previously; drugs which, if you read the side-effect list, also may cause addiction, "feeling high", delusions, hallucinations, and often death by respiratory depression. So, if these legal prescription drugs are FDA-approved and are being abused by a small percentage of the public -- even under a doctor's supervision -- why aren't the Media and our government watchdog agencies alarmed about them?
In many cases, as we saw above with respiratory depression, the FDA/DEA are accusing Kratom of causing symptoms that either have never been found or are extremely rare. And yet, they make it sound like everyone will eventually have these symptoms -- quite unlike the side-effect warnings on prescription drugs, where risks are downplayed.
Remember, it was the easily obtainable prescription drugs that were the seed of the addiction epidemic in the first place. Don't Blame Kratom!
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