Why Does the FDA Want a Kratom Ban? Politics As Usual

The legal status of kratom is hanging by thread.

With government agencies pushing for a kratom ban, proponents are scrambling for ways to keep it legal for users to buy or possess.

Kratom is the subject of a lot of scrutiny by those who stand to lose money and those who don’t understand its medicinal purpose and benefits.

Keep reading to learn more about kratom and how politics threatens the availability of a highly beneficial medicinal herb.

What is Kratom

Kratom is an herbal supplement that comes from the Mitragyna Speciosa tree in Southeast Asia. It’s a relative of the coffee plant and has been used medicinally in the region for more than 200 years.

The leaves of the plant are chewed, brewed into a tea, or dried and crushed and, it can even be smoked. In the United States, it’s sold in powdered form or in capsules. Some websites also sell live Mitrangyna Speciosa plants, which provide an unlimited supply of kratom.

Different strains are classified by the color of the stem and veins that run through the leaf–red, green, white. There is also a yellow strain that results from a drying technique that turns white veins yellow.

What is it Used For Today

When Kratom made its way to the U.S. people realized the abundance of health benefits it provides.

Users can reap the benefits of kratom which is commercially available from vendors online and in local head shops.

The list of kratom uses continues to grow, but the following are what most kratom users treat:

  • Social anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Opioid addiction
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Mood elevation

No one should have to suffer through chronic pain. Pharmaceutical companies cash in on people’s pain by making opioid pain meds and encouraging doctors to prescribe them.

Kratom users have sought out a more natural, herbal remedy. Certain strains are ideal for pain management and relief, and users have touted its effectiveness compared to prescription drugs they used previously.

With chronic pain and prescription, use comes a high potential for opioid addiction. Kratom users trying to kick an addiction to opioids laud its benefits for helping them transition from prescription meds. and helping to taper off of them without devastating withdrawal symptoms.

Other users who experience mental disorders like anxiety and depression benefit from the mood-elevating effects of kratom.

Why is it so Controversial

Kratom has the potential to replace opioids, anti-anxiety meds and other types of prescription medications. As a result, pharmaceutical companies risk losing billions as users choose to forgo addictive prescriptions for a more natural and affordable option.

Experts believe big pharma is pushing the FDA for a kratom ban to protect their profits. Pharmaceutical companies hold a lot of influence over politics and the medical profession, and the FDA won’t do anything to go against them.

Another potential problem with kratom and its unregulated nature is that users can buy it from any vendor that sells it. Policymakers say purchasing kratom is potentially dangerous because consumers don’t know how much kratom is in the products they buy or if whether they contain any at all.

The FDA doesn’t regulate herbal supplements, which is what kratom is. As such, unscrupulous vendors could potentially add other ingredients to their product and market it as kratom.

Kratom research is limited, and only anecdotal evidence is available on its benefits. So, the FDA used a computer-generated model to study kratom’s chemical structure and evaluate its potential for abuse.

What Does the DEA Say

In 2016, when the DEA received backlash from the public and Congress, backed off its kratom ban idea and handed it off to the FDA. Now, the DEA has resumed its initiative to ban kratom. If the ban goes into effect, the herb will join marijuana, heroin, and LSD as a schedule 1 drug, meaning it has no legitimate medical use.

Once a substance is listed as schedule 1, it becomes difficult to research because of it’s illegal status. This scheduling limits access to the substance and the government agencies don’t fund studies for them.

The DEA issued a written statement saying it believes kratom is “harmful and dangerous” yet it hasn’t done its due diligence to rigorously test the validity of these its claims. Rather than using the herb itself, the agency relied on the FDA’s computer-generated model to study kratom, which led it to declare it an imminent hazard to public safety.

Kratom users credit the herb with helping them manage their chronic pain and helping them wean off prescriptions opiates. One woman told NPR that she’d still be taking opiates if it wasn’t for kratom.

What Does the FDA Say

FDA has not evaluated Kratom for any uses but has labeled the herb as an opioid due to the country’s current opioid epidemic. However, kratom is not an opioid as it isn’t derived from opium, is not related to the poppy and is not synthesized to mimic the effects of an opioid.

Kratom contains the opioid activity agonist mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which act on opioid receptors in the body to produce sedative and euphoric effects.

And kratom has yet to display the same damaging effects of true opioids like heroin and prescription opioids, specifically respiratory depression. Because kratom is potentially addictive, the FDA feels it must take preemptive measures to curb new products that could hook users.

The FDA cites 44 deaths it claims were caused by kratom to bolster its assertion that the herbal supplement is dangerous and should be banned. However, these claims have not been proven as kratom was combined with opiates or other substances in the majority of cases. Whereas legal opioid painkillers cause hundreds of deaths every day.

What You Can Do Before a Kratom Ban

The kratom ban could come at any time. The DEA is trying to fast-track its efforts to get kratom off the market, but you still have time.

If you want to try kratom before the DEA puts it on the banned substances list or you want to stock up on your supply before it becomes nearly impossible, visit our shop.

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