“they heard your voices.”
We all know that when something new comes along, whether it be a scientific theory, a new technology, or a type of medication, fear and uncertainty are always present regarding it. While there is nothing new about Kratom as it has been used for centuries in Thailand and in neighboring lands, this miracle plant has only become known in mainstream Western culture in recent decades. Because of this, clouds of suspicion have unfortunately gathered over it.
Those clouds burst in a downpour of panic with the first deaths attributed to Kratom. To date, there have been forty-four deaths linked to Kratom in the United States. Because of this, the FDA has been called upon to move the herb to a Schedule I classification alongside heroin and cocaine, effectively banning it and stigmatizing it as deadly and addictive with little or no accepted medical use.
However, the reason for this sudden panic is not what it seems. While I do not wish to diminish these tragic deaths in any way, I would first of all like to add some perspective: industry figures put the total number of Kratom users in the country at around five million. Meanwhile, over 70,000 deaths were attributed to opioids in 2017, and over 10,000 deaths were attributed to Benzodiazepines such as Xanax. Aspirin and other over-the-counter drugs with blood-thinning properties are linked to roughly 3000 deaths a year.
It must be noted that anytime Mitragynine, the most active alkaloid in Kratom, was found in the system of the deceased, the death was categorized as being caused by Kratom. One of these deaths, for instance, was a drowning and another was ruled a suicide.
Walking The Walk
The American Kratom Association, or AKA, has recently called upon the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services to recall the scheduling recommendation and direct the FDA to reevaluate the science on Kratom. After a two-month review of the available data, the National Institute on Drug Abuse issued a statement:
“…Most Kratom deaths appear to have resulted from adulterated products (other substances mixed in with the kratom) or from the user taking other drugs with Kratom. These substances include alcohol, benzodiazepines, opioids, and over-the-counter medications…”Huffington Post
Nevertheless, the House passed the Stop Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act, or SITSA, which would give Justice Department authority to place Kratom into a Schedule I category with little reliance on science.
However, thanks to the efforts of the Kratom community who contacted their Senators in droves, the Senate has held off on including SITSA in other opioid legislation. They were surprised at how many constituents contacted them about Kratom, and they heard your voices.