Will the United States ban kratom, a tropical plant that grows naturally in some southeast Asian countries, owing to its addictive properties? While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been issuing advisories against using the natural remedy for pain of late, there have been reports anticipating a ban on the opioid-type drug.
FDA Warns Against Kratom Use; Will US Ban the Drug?
Will the United States ban kratom, a tropical plant that grows naturally in some southeast
Asian countries, owing to its addictive properties? While the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has been issuing advisories against using the natural remedy for pain of late, there have
been reports anticipating a ban on the opioid-type drug.
Mitragyna speciosa, the scientific name of kratom, has been getting popular among
Americans due to its analgesic and antidepressant properties. Many people claim that the
drug helps them deal with opioid withdrawal symptoms. It is normally dispensed as a powder
that can be mixed with tea or can be taken as a diet supplement pill. Its use is still not illegal
in the country and it remains unregulated. Issuing a fresh warning against the use of kratom,
the FDA had made public its intention of cracking down on its misuse in the wake of the
already burgeoning opioid epidemic.
In a Feb.6, 2018
statement, the FDA
had said that so far
44 deaths have been
kratom. It said that
neither be used for
the management of
any medical ailment
nor as an alternative
to opioids for the
regarding the drug’s
therapeutic use. The
agency busted the
myth that being “just
a plant” doesn’t mean it’s safe. In 2012 and 2014, the FDA had issued import alerts for kratom
to stop it right at the border. Since 2014, the law enforcement officials have seized kratom
worth nearly $5.5 million.
Kratom belongs to the evergreen coffee family. Its active compounds are mitragynine and 7-
hydroxymitragynine, which act like morphine on the brain receptors.
Analysis of drug’s side effects
In 2016, the FDA wanted to list kratom as a Schedule I substance with high potential for abuse.
However, the Congress stalled the move. The recent move by FDA is again signaling towards
its intention of putting the drug under the Controlled Substances Act to restrict its access.
Since 2016, the agency scientists have been studying the computational model of the drug
and how the components of the molecule behave inside the human body. According to FDA
Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, after a thorough research, scientists discovered that out of the
25 compounds present in kratom, 22 act like opioids on the brain. This indicates the potential
side effects of the drug on its users.
Some bodies, like the American Kratom Association (AKA) from Colorado, are unhappy with
the FDA move and want consumers be allowed to make their choices. In a statement it said
that kratom is being used as a lifeline for the millions of Americans replacing strong and
potentially harmful opioids. “A ban on kratom… would put them at risk of relapse to opioid
use with the potential consequence of overdose death.” It cited a recent research published
in the journal Neuropharmacology emphasizing that additional research is warranted to
substantiate that deaths, cited by the FDA, have occurred because of kratom alone.
On Feb.8, 2018, AKA sent a letter to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who recently
took control of the Trump administration’s opioids agenda, and Robert Patterson, the acting
administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), requesting them to intervene.
The AKA letter claimed that “it is not dangerously addictive,” nor is it similar to “narcotics like
opioids” with respect to addiction and death as stated by the FDA in its November 14 kratom
Larger issue of addiction
Any drug used over a long period can lead to tolerance, dependence and addiction. If
someone has been prescribed a drug by a practitioner, it should be used strictly as per the
doctor’s advice. Once addicted, it can lead to drug-seeking behavior and a host of health
problems. For those addicted to any drug, timely treatment can help gain sobriety and live a
happy, productive and addiction-free life.
Sovereign Addiction Services is a leading substance abuse treatment provider in the U.S. with
some state-of-the-art drug rehab centers in California and other states. If you have a loved
one struggling with an addiction, you can call our 24/7 helpline (866) 327-0971 to get
connected to one of the drug rehabilitation centers inCalifornia.