“…science and facts are of the utmost importance.”
When it comes to one’s health or, say, the health of millions, science and facts are of the utmost importance. In the case of medicine, myths and fear-mongering can be detrimental, even fatal, to the well-being of those they concern. As I am sure you have heard, there has been a push for at least two years by the FDA to move Kratom to a Schedule I classification, effectively banning it and stigmatizing it in the worst possible way for years to come. To this end, foes of Kratom rely on myths and misinterpreted data.
Kratom is currently categorized as a dietary supplement by the FDA. For decades, the average user of kratom have been well-educated and employed. Despite this and the fact that this herb has never been associated with criminality, misconceptions remain, mostly rooted in fear of the unknown.
Myth Vs. Reality
- Myth: Kratom is an opioid.
- Reality: Heroin and its cousins Fentanyl, Oxycodone, and the like are highly addictive because they are opioid agonists. These drugs bind fully to the opioid receptors in the brain. Kratom, however, is only a partial agonist, meaning that its effects are milder than that of heroin or prescription opiates. Since kratom does not depress the central nervous system in the way that opioid agonists do, risk of fatal overdose is extremely low.
- Myth: Kratom is addictive.
- Reality: Consumers of kratom can become dependent on the plant in much the same way that one becomes dependent on their morning cup of coffee: they might rely on it in order to get up and get going. This is not anywhere in the same ballpark as addiction to methamphetamine, cocaine, or heroin. Withdrawals after long-term use of kratom are similar to that of quitting caffeine. This lack of addictive potentiality is partially because, unlike most substances with the potential for abuse, increasing the dosage of kratom does not lead to more euphoric effects. Taking more does make you higher.
- Myth: Kratom is responsible for dozens of deaths.
- Reality: There have been no documented fatalities that can be blamed entirely on kratom. None. Publicly available data shows that most of the reported fatalities were found to have multiple substances including xanax, barbiturates, and amphetamines in their system at the time of death. Others had medical conditions that likely contributed to their deaths. To place this in perspective, millions use kratom safely every year, while there are over 100 deaths caused by opiates every day in the US.
- Myth: The kratom industry has no safety protocols or production standards.
- Reality: Kratom is actually already regulated by the FDA. The Kratom Trade Association (KTA) makes it a priority to provide consumers with safe and effective products. Members of the KTA are required to adhere to testing protocols that exceed Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) guidelines. The KTA supports age restrictions and labeling guidelines for responsible use.
On Wednesday, October 10th, 2018, representatives of the Kratom Trade Association held a briefing on Capitol Hill with experts from the Botanical Education Alliance, Drug Policy Alliance, and other organizations. Michael Werner, a federal regulatory policy advisor for the KTA, stated his organization’s wish to work with legislators to find common-sense solutions based on facts to protect the people’s right to manage their health in whichever way works best for them.
Included in these solutions are labelling requirements and responsible manufacturing processes. Werner is an expert with nearly 30 years of experience in marketing standards for healthcare.
The KTA is dedicated to the safe, responsible use of the kratom botanical in the US and will be instrumental in developing quality standards for the industry. KTA plans to support more research into all issues regarding kratom, as well as educate policy-makers and the public in order to dispel misconceptions and falsehoods regarding the leaf.