Science

Experts are concerned that kratom will become the next marijuana

*[will governments continue to] deny the entourage effect of whole plant botanicals, ban home-grown plants, force consumers to pay for synthetic pills, or go into the black market if they are low-income and/or have no health insurance coverage, increase profits for the treatment industrial complex

A ban wouldn’t just impact the estimated 3 to 5 million Americans who use kratom, sometimes in lieu of prescription meds. A 2016 article in Scientific American  warned that efforts to ban the plant could also have a chilling effect on kratom research (and research on related pain killers). It appears this is already happening … “Many years ago, citizens were robbed of the opportunity to understand medical benefits of cannabis and psychedelics for political reasons,” Marc Swogger adds. “It’s 2018, and there’s no reason something similar should happen with kratom.”​ 

Tonic spoke with seven kratom researchers and most agreed that the FDA is right to be preoccupied by a substance we don’t know much about. But they also unanimously expressed concern for the agency’s aggressive approach, saying too much government pressure will cripple scientific research on the plant.

Marc Swogger is an associate psychiatry professor at University of Rochester Medical Center who studies substance use and describes the kratom conflict as a civil liberties issue. He co-authored a systematic review of all kratom literature related to mental health from 1960 to 2017. He examined 13 studies with a combined sample size of 28,745, and found “no indication that kratom use carries significant mental health risks beyond the possible development of kratom dependence, which is generally mild compared to that of opioids.”

*Christopher McCurdy shut down his research. McCurdy is a medicinal chemistry professor at the University of Florida who has been studying kratom for more than a decade. He sees vast potential in the plant for treating addiction and pain, but his main goal is to first unlock kratom’s pharmacology.

*CPH Biotech, a Las Vegas-based start-up specializing in kratom research, was set to begin clinical trials. “Our private funder backed out after the FDA notice was released, so we have had to put our human study on hold until such time that we secure further funding,” a company spokesperson writes in an email. “We did complete a successful animal study.”

Andrew Kruegel, a medicinal chemist at Columbia University… has written a number of papers characterizing the pharmacology of kratom’s active alkaloids using cell and animal models. Last year, he was approached by a team at Johns Hopkins University to conduct the first controlled human trial exploring the safety, abuse potential, and effectiveness of kratom for pain relief. “We were starting to prepare an NIH [National Institutes of Health] grant submission to request funding for this work,” Kruegel explains. “But unfortunately, the Hopkins team decided not to proceed due to the regulatory uncertainty, as the trial would be very challenging to run if kratom or its active compounds were placed in Schedule I. 

Original Article (Tonic Vice):
 Experts Are Concerned that Kratom Will Become the Next Marijuana
Artwork Fair Use: Public Domain

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