Can the kratom plant help fix the opioid crisis?
Christopher McCurdy, president-elect of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, believes that kratom has the potential to work for patients and even help solve the opioid crisis.
“There’s a huge wealth of anecdotal evidence, and some scientific, that there is definite medical potential for this plant. If it’s not in the treatment of mild and moderate pain, it’s definitely in the treatment of potential opioid withdrawal,” said McCurdy, a medicinal chemist at the University of Florida and director of the UF Translational Drug Development Core. He is one of few scientists in the country who’s examined kratom closely. He believes that the success of the plant may lie in its two principal alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These chemicals can bond to the body’s opioid receptors and act very much like opioids do, providing some pain relief and causing a release of dopamine, but at a much more toned-down level than prescription pills or heroin. Users say there are mild, if any, withdrawal symptoms [when used with proper dosing protocols as described here].