Depending on the information you come across, Kratom is either a hazardous, addictive substance with little medical use and adverse effects, or is it an accessible gateway out of undiagnosed and untreated chronic conditions. How can the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), healthcare experts, and millions of daily Kratom consumers all hold contradicting viewpoints on the same herb? Before answering these questions, it is necessary to understand Kratom and its position in the supplement community.  

What is Kratom?

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a Southeast Asian tropical tree with energizing, revitalizing, and elevating effects. Other than that, it also has opiate-like characteristics that cause sleepiness and euphoria. Kratom has numerous active compounds, making it impossible to categorize as a single class of stimulant or opiate.

Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine, the two major compounds, exhibit potent action at the primary opioid receptor, the “mu” receptor. Kratom’s most typical route of consumption is orally, either as a tea or as a capsule, with additional sweetness to mask its unpleasant bitterness. But for people who want to have a more potent dose, it is also available via extracts and tinctures. Keep in mind that higher and more concentrated doses might lead to a sedative effect. 

Kratom is obtainable in petrol stations and paraphernalia stores across the United States, except for a few regions where it faces bans. Many individuals buy this supplement online, where it is advertised as “for soap-making and aromatherapy,” to evade the FDA’s 2014 ban on importing or producing Kratom as a dietary supplement.

False allegations against Kratom?

There is little to no regulation or accurate information on Kratom’s growth, processing, packaging, or labeling in the United States. As a result, it adds to the already high level of ambiguity about its health hazards. 

Concerns regarding Salmonella contamination of Kratom-containing products prompted the FDA to issue a mandatory recall in 2018. Following that incident, the DEA placed this supplement on the list of concerns. However, it can’t impose complete bans on this botanical as there is no actual proof of Kratom’s impediments. 

The CDC also claims that between 2016 and 2017, there were approximately 91 deaths that had associations with Kratom. But it is noteworthy that just because a substance has associations to a death case, it might not even be the real problem. And sure enough, the victims had other substances in their system in almost every single alleged incident. It shows that Kratom isn’t the one to blame, but instead, it is a case of poly-substance intake. As a result, it is impossible to solely point the finger at this supplement, which is why you shouldn’t read too much into the CDC’s claims. 

Why do people use Kratom?

Although the DEA claims that Kratom has no medicinal uses or advantages, it has a long history in Asia for curing coughs, diarrhea, chronic pain, and increasing energy and sexual drive. In recent years, there has been an increase in the usage of Kratom in the United States. Many individuals are self-treating chronic pain and looking for alternatives to prescribed medicines.

Despite a strong community of advocates and countless anecdotal reports of efficacy, these Kratom-based therapy methods have not undergone scientific research. Due to this, dietary authorities and healthcare practitioners have their concerns over its safety. But just because there is not enough evidence of its benefits doesn’t mean that those benefits do not exist. It only means that there is more information based on personal experience instead of scientific analysis. 

Anyone who wants to get their hands on Kratom products in the US might face some problems. But the ironic thing is that these problems are not with the supplement itself. Since the DEA is the only one that has its doubts, it has sent out threats to make Kratom a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This classification would put the botanical in the same category as heroin and methamphetamine. Nevertheless, it is not fair to ruin the herb’s reputation purely based on speculations. 

Kratom’s alkaloids: Good or Bad?

Mitragyna has approximately 25 distinct alkaloids, which are responsible for its therapeutic effects. The two most well-known alkaloids are MG and 7-MG. MG accounts for roughly 60% of overall alkaloids, with 7-MG responsible for about 2%. The other alkaloids are even less well understood. Since Kratom doesn’t have a set regulation for any of these alkaloids, the percentages might differ from one product to another.

There are four kinds of opioid receptors in our bodies: delta, kappa, mu, and nor. Both MG and 7-MG are agonists for mu-opioid receptors. It does not, however, make Kratom an opioid. The Controlled Substances Act clearly states that opioids are compounds that have “an addiction-forming or addiction-sustaining vulnerability comparable to morphine. Anyone that ever consumed Kratom knows that it is an exclusion from that. 

Moving forward with Kratom

There are certain things that the community itself can do to make this supplement’s consumption safer and more effective. 

Regulation

It would be safer if consumers knew how much they were consuming and that it was contaminant-free.

Education

Consumers who are well-informed about Kratom’s risks and rewards are considerably less susceptible to deceptive statements from the media and authorities.

Research

We should know if Kratom has advantages for addiction or chronic pain. Moreover, we must identify the hazards of this supplement so that consumers are better informed.

Final thoughts

Kratom is a considerably controversial herb. The FDA says it has links to fatalities and has even pushed to classify it as a Schedule I substance. Many publications say that Kratom is a dangerous natural opioid, according to unreliable online resources. 

It was found by the smoke and head shop business, rather than being offered as a herbal medication in health food shops or by practitioners. It’s possible that being sold in this market contributed to the perception that it’s a dangerous herb.

Innumerable Kratom consumers are on the opposite side of the debate, advocating for it as a life-changing herbal remedy. Both sides fill the internet with information supporting their viewpoints, making it harder to find accurate information. Keeping everything in mind, Kratom is undoubtedly a safe substance that went under fire only because of its origin in the US. 

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