Over the counter and Pharmaceutical

Kratom has been dominating the news lately. The argument is whether or not to keep it a legal food supplement or move it into a scheduled category of narcotics. We don’t seem to be hearing anything in regards to a compromise. A compromise which satisfies all parties concerned.

What we’re seeing now is knee jerk reaction which is not uncommon to food supplements. Many may be unaware of how many household items have gone through this. For example, Ginko Biloba had its challenges. Most vitamin supplements that we all buy weekly at the local market have had challenges. Don’t believe what you hear, verify my last statement by going here.

There are 2 sides to every debate, in regards to Kratom it can be quite confusing. On one side, you have those who seem to be regurgitating misinformation instead of doing their own research and writing about it. On the other side, you have responsible professionals with journalistic integrity, covering a story from an unbiased stand point. This is something that we see every day. A story begins in a small town with huge viewership potential, it’s covered by a local news source which gets a call from a state or national source and the next thing you know, you have a national news story which has been aggregated through the chain, straight to your favorite mobile app. The real challenge is filtering through real, fake and copied or trimmed down news, which is made available to us, in many cases, through a Social Media post.

My grandfather taught my Father something very important which he, in turn, passed to me. If someone tells you something, confirm that information by a second and third source before speaking about it. Otherwise, you’re simply perpetuating bad information which is unacceptable.

There has been some extremely strong wording against Kratom recently, which tells us several things. There are many one sided views concerning this natural supplement. There have been claims of deaths ranging from 15 – 36 over the last 7 years. Let’s put this into some perspective. Numbers without supporting autopsies is rather trivial. Let’s take a look at deaths attributed to aspirin each year. Studies by the CDC indicate as many as 88,000 deaths are attributed to alcohol with 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) in alcohol related deaths each year. I think we can safely remove this argument from the table.

There are several alkaloids found in the leaf of the Mitragyna Speciosa (Kratom) tree. These alkaloids are not naturally found to be at a dangerous level. Unlike Opiates, Kratom does not negatively impact the human respiratory system. Kratom is not found to be addictive. In its natural state, ground or crushed leaf, an overdose would be impossible due to the amount of leaf matter one would have to ingest orally. The human body would simply expel this leaf matter (vomit), before the body could digest it.

That being said, if you were to scientifically synthesize some of these alkaloids in a laboratory environment, you could bring the effects to dangerously high levels.

Here is where a compromise makes the most sense. A simple question needs to be asked, “Can we have an, over the counter, version of Kratom as a natural food supplement, in addition to a Pharmaceutical Version that would require a prescription”. The simple answer is, “Of course there can be”.

There are other products that we can look to for precedent, such as Ibuprofen which comes in an over the counter version, which we all know and use. It also comes in a 900mg pharmaceutical version, which requires a prescription.

We have to be mindful not to forget the importance of keeping the consumer and general public safe. Like everything in life, moderation is the key. People will often do the wrong thing, even if knowing the consequences, but that should play no part in this debate

Another, undeniably, important question that needs to be at the top of this debate is, “Does Kratom improve your quality of life?”, and if so, “Why?”.

Most recently there was an independent 8 Point Study on Mitragyna Speciosa (Kratom) conducted by Jack Henningfield, PhD of Pinney Associates. Again, this was an independent report, but in 2013 there were similar studies conducted by a Christopher R. McCurdy PhD University of Mississippi and Edward W. Boyer, MD University of Massachusetts with very similar findings. Several other links can be found at the bottom of this article referring to facts and medical findings.


An important thing to remember is that the FDA’s roll is to keep the public safe. For the, over the counter, food supplement version, there would have to be some checks and balances. The industry itself would need to improve their processes and help to raise the bar so that other companies either follow suite or no longer sell Kratom. This, in addition, to well defined FDA guidelines would and should be acceptable to all concerned. There’s a responsibility to the consumer on the part of the Companies that sell Kratom to do so responsibly and safely.

As with any food supplement there could be no medical advice given. There should be a level of quality control, and corporate responsibility that should be without question for all companies. As Americans, we are held to higher standard whether we like it or not and all US companies should be raising the bar.

A final point to be added here is the amount of US tax dollars that have been attributed to this issue is unfortunate. Let’s get those funds going towards more important issues that impact the greater good of this great country.


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