By: Phil | 11-21-2017 | News
Photo credit: AR30mm |

Dr. Jane Babin Weighs In On Kratom Safety

The FDA is currently waging an all-out war on kratom. A year out from the historic win against the DEA’s attempted extra-judicial ban of the South East Asian plant, the FDA seems intent on picking up where DEA left off. Despite the concerted effort of regulatory agencies like the FDA, there are a number of extraordinarily brilliant experts who support the use of kratom and its continued availability for those who can benefit from it.

Recently, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta went so far as to posit that kratom could be vital in combatting the opiate epidemic. Addiction expert and Johns Hopkins University professor, Dr. Jack Henningfield is yet another authority who has made an analytical defense of kratom’s safety. I had a chance recently to contact Dr. Jane Babin. Dr. Babin has a double doctorate in law and molecular biology and has spent 20 years as a patent lawyer in the bio-tech field. Since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced stricter guidelines related to opiate and opioid prescription, Dr. Babin became interested in kratom as an alternative.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="">@SGottliebFDA</a> my father is 70 years old and served 4 tours in Vietnam in the 82nd airborne. He uses kratom to manage his pain and PTSD. He is the only one of all his friends not medicated half to death.</p>&mdash; Laura Jones (@lauradianne2380) <a href="">November 16, 2017</a></blockquote>

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Last year she wrote an impassioned and impeccably researched defense of kratom addressed to the DEA. More recently, she was involved in writing up a report <a href="">debunking two recent deaths</a> supposedly attributed to kratom. The FDA is now claiming 36 deaths due to kratom. This is up from the previously <a href="">debunked figure of 15 deaths</a>. However, the FDA is somewhat reticent in sharing their data. When a Reuters reporter requested more information about the supposed 36 deaths, the FDA referred them to the Freedom of Information Act.

One of Dr. Babin’s concerns related to the attribution of death to kratom is the fact that so many other things are overlooked. In one of the last two cases, there were multiple exacerbating situations that could have singularly led to death. Taken together, a contraindicated drug combination and other conditions were likely to result in death, but since kratom was found in the coroner’s report kratom was assumed the culprit. That’s the equivalent of finding a heroin addict dead, needle still hanging from a vein and glass of lemonade in the other hand. At this point would you be prepared to assume the lethality of lemonade?

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"I just don't necessarily believe it," Dr. Babin noted. I asked Dr. Babin if kratom is technically an opiate or opioid as well. The question isn’t as clear-cut as you might think. Technically caffeine and cheese have some opiate binding potentials, but depending on how you define “opiate or opioid” they still probably wouldn’t even get an honorable mention to the category. What’s more important than the binding itself, according to Dr. Babin, are the downstream effects. Naloxone, the wonder drug that prevents opiate overdoses is technically an opioid.

Kratom does not possess many of the dangers of traditional opiates and opioids that make them such a public health concern. Addictive potential is comparable to coffee and no respiratory depression or toxicity dangers have been currently noted. Dr. Babin wants to make sure we don’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater, which would potentially take away what is, by all accounts, very safe.”

As for addictive and dangerous, sugar kills millions and caffeine was the subject of a recent research study that analyzed 50 recent deaths due to caffeine overdose. Bacon has been shown to be addictive and the more you eat, the more you crave. Meanwhile, kratom is in possession of multiple health benefits.

Dr. Babin reviewed and endorsed Dr. Henningfield’s 8-factor analysis of kratom which ruled the plant as having a low addictive potential and favorable safety profile especially in comparison with opiates and opioids currently in use. Dr. Babin has previously taken the DEA and FDA to task for relying on contradictory opinions and ignoring some of the current scientific findings.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">You literally created the opiate epidemic then want to take away a plant that HELPS with it? And we are supposed to believe the FDA has our best interest at heart. Still waiting on your 8 factor and proof of those alleged 36 deaths by the way. <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#kratom</a></p>&mdash; Nina (@Neenahh1) <a href="">November 14, 2017</a></blockquote>

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At this point, Dr. Babin is advocating for kratom’s approval as a dietary supplement. This may not be easy or inexpensive though, but could still be our best bet. “With the caveat that there is a lot of opposition to it. It's something they don't want to approve no matter how safe it's proven to be.”

Cooperation between vendors, importers and advocacy groups like American Kratom Association and Botanical Education Alliance is something that may be helpful at this point.

"There should be standardization across the industry and cooperation amongst vendors and importers," Dr. Babin urges.

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7 Comment/s
DEER No. 12360 2017-11-21 : 04:34

Banning kratom would have bad consequences for people who use it as an alternative for powerful pain meds.

    I believe it will cause more heroin overdoses.  Former addicts who are managing the disease with kratom tea would most likely use opiates again.

  Im happy to see an article like this, i think people should learn the truth about this leaf. Its not a synthetic drug, its not close to heroin.

 Comparable to coffee, many people have used the leaf to take the edge off from drug withdrawls, and kratom tea can stop heroin cravings.  

I think the fda has the wrong info about this plant. :-/  Misinformation is making the plant seem like the next deadly designer drug,

        It's not.

 News stories are spreading misinformation and have no idea, "Propaganda"

 In reality kratom is saving lives.

 I like to hope this ban isn't just about pharmaceutical companies losing a little money for their addiction treatments.  Please get the facts people.

 Thanks for the article.

Kratom leaf, helps so many people.

John Paulsen No. 12361 2017-11-21 : 04:53

With the help of kratom i have been able to get my life back on track. I have a full time job. I've gone back to school. Without kratom i would still be lost.

Anonymous No. 12382 2017-11-21 : 10:40

I'll say it again…

This is a double edge sword.

OK let us say it is a non-addictive alternative opiates pain killers.

That does not negate the fact Emergency Medical Staff & Fire Dept Teams are running 100's of Overdose calls a night across America, because some idiot OD' on Kratom. All because it was used as a recreational drug and not a medication substitute.

The issue is safety, public use, knowledge of of use, and purity.

MK No. 12410 2017-11-21 : 20:39

Anonymous No. 12382, firstly, what is your source on this statistic – that resources are being wasted on "100s" of supposed nightly emergency calls to firefighters and EMTs? I honestly would like to see that evidence.

Secondly, even if that turns out to be the case, it would pale in comparison to the number of calls due to the use of an array of other ostensibly safe and legal substances. But by all means! We need more legislation in order to completely eliminate frivolous calls for help from some "idiots!" Never mind the fact that this action would result in thousands *more* not-so-frivolous calls, which end with some "idiot" dead from heroin or pills. Double edged sword, indeed…

Thirdly, when and where have you said this before? ("I'll say it again…"). Are you on some extended internet crusade to save the world from the "idiots" who choose to use kratom, recreationally or otherwise? What exactly is your motivation to fight against people who seek to maintain legal access to this plant, to the point where you grasp at such straws?

Public use? Purity? You sound utterly uneducated about kratom, but don't let that stop you from public bloviation. Your comment makes it appear as though you are well practiced at it.

James Scianno No. 12493 2017-11-23 : 03:31

Been using Kratom 10 years now. I’m almost 50 years old. This natural plant or tea, as I imbibe it, is gentle and effective for me. Both my parents succumbed to FDA approved opioids. They are GONE. When I read Dr. Gottliebs words I realize how ignorant(or disingenuous) he is. I saw what opioids did to my parents. To conflate and compare Kratom with FDA opioids is pure nonsense. The fix is in. This is well beyond the leaf. This is a liberty issue and clearly reveals itself as “soft tyranny”. The FDA is lying. There, I said it. Outrageous. Disgusting.

Brian Hunsinger No. 12524 2017-11-23 : 15:39

I've had 2 fusions in my cervical spine and have had moderate pain for over 16 years. I was prescribed Tramadol and Neurontin which did wonders in making my life better. I was in very little pain for the five years I took them until my doctor wanted to check my kidney and liver function due to the duration I had been taking them. Long story short, I tested positive for marijuana, which we had not discussed. They took away my tramadol and the next five months were horrible. I would not sleep for days at a time due to pain and muscle spasms. A co-worker told me about Kratom and I tried it. My life has been given back, no more restless arms and legs, and significant decrease in neck pain. I have used Kratom for 18 months and have nothing but praise for it.

Ron Fredrickson No. 12910 2017-11-28 : 20:47

At this point, Dr. Babin is advocating for kratom’s approval as a dietary supplement. This may not be easy or inexpensive though, but could still be our best bet. “With the caveat that there is a lot of opposition to it. It's something they don't want to approve no matter how safe it's proven to be.”

I thought that DSHEA of 1994 eliminated the need for approval of "dietary supplements".

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