By: Philip | 11-30-2017 | Science
Photo credit: Yanawut Suntornkij | Dreamstime

Addiction and Abuse Expert Warns Against Banning Kratom

Earlier today the American Kratom Association held a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Dave Herman, the chair of the AKA hosted the event. Dr. Jack Henningfield was featured as a keynote speaker. Dr. Henningfield is a world-renowned authority on addiction and abuse and currently is vice president of Research, Health Policy, and Abuse Liability at Pinney Associates. Dr. Henningfield has served as chief of the Clinical Pharmacology Research Branch of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Currently he is a professor of Behavioral Biology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, one of the foremost medical schools in the nation. Previously, Dr. Henningfield had written up an 8-factor analysis on the safety, abuse and addictive potential as well as potential for public health hazard that kratom possibly posed. Also speaking at the event was Marc Haddow, legislative director of the AKA.

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Dr. Henningfield's impeccable credentials and work history puts him in a unique position to speak on the safety of kratom. As he points out, the consumers are generally middle-aged (in their 30's, 40's and 50's) and, in contrast to opioids, find it to support overall well-being. Some even use it for conditions like chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, finding it improves their productivity, energy levels, alertness, and focus. In other words, to enhance a clear state of mind. There are many reasons people use opiates and opioids but mental clarity is generally not one, for obvious reasons.

In Dr. Henningfield's opening statement, he notes how "junk science" is at the base of the FDA's kratom scare. Even compared to over-the-counter drugs, dietary ingredients, and supplements, kratom is exceptionally safe according to the results of research, lab trials and anecdotal and traditional usage. The plant has been used safely for hundreds of years and in a 2015 study regarding calls to poison control centers regarding legal substances, 30,000 calls were pooled. Not one instance involving kratom made the list. Nothing is 100% safe, but compared to antidepressants, antihistamines, acetaminophen, alcohol, tobacco, laundry pods and a host of other legal products, the potential for danger seems highly over-blown.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Pick on a plant when energy drinks are KNOWN to kill? <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Iamkratom</a><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Philip (@kafkaguy) <a href="">November 29, 2017</a></blockquote>

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Dr. Henningfield also points out how in the course of studying drugs known to be dangerous you have fatalities. Kratom has been tested for decades in laboratory conditions. Not one instance of death can be traced to kratom alone. Not once in the scientific literature, despite trials involving injecting mitragynine to attempt to induce respiratory depression or otherwise lethal response. In other words, scientists couldn't kill a rodent weighing a few ounces with kratom no matter how hard they tried. With alcohol, sedatives, and opiates you see animal fatalities in laboratory conditions due to respiratory depression. Give a little furry creature amphetamines or cocaine and you can induce a stroke or heart attack. Scientists have yet to induce lethality with the active contents of mitragynine even by injecting ludicrous amounts directly into numerous laboratory animals.

90 people die per day from opiates and opioids. As a result, the CDC and federal government are urging people to move away from opiate usage and kratom is, for many, a great way to do that. Dr. Henningfield and other speakers repeatedly noted how consumers of kratom who have found it life-changing are terrified of a ban. Terrified of potentially being forced into criminality, gaining kratom from the black market. Terrified of being forced back to opiates and opioids for their pain. November 14, the FDA equated kratom with narcotic opioids and warned against a potentially deadly risk. Dr. Hennningfield argues that the FDA is dead wrong. The fear is that they are so gravely mistaken people may die as a result of their error.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#kratom</a> psychosis? More like Reefer Madness, if you ask me. <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#IamKratom</a><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Philip (@kafkaguy) <a href="">November 29, 2017</a></blockquote>

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Dr. Henningfield announced he will be sharing more details from his data soon. Global and national data, he argues, confirms the safety of kratom. Kratom is not causing a public health crisis, but banning it could worsen the public health crisis we are in the midst of. During the age of the black plague, superstition held that the Black Death was caused by witches. As a result, cats were killed en masse as "familiars" of the witches that were causing the plague. Killing the cats created an even greater infestation of the rats that were carrying the disease. Banning kratom during the opiate epidemic is as scientifically based as that of the cat-killers of the Dark Ages. Banning it might very well have the same result.

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5 Comment/s
Anonymous No. 13022 2017-11-30 : 13:41

Great article. It is spot on.

Chelsea No. 13072 2017-12-01 : 03:10

I wish this was the kind of information the public saw! This article is on point!

Brian No. 13121 2017-12-01 : 20:43

Their stance on this plant is not rational when the safety of the Kratom is examined.

Cathi No. 13123 2017-12-01 : 21:23

KRATOM is already keeping people alive. Addicts voluntarily get clean with the use of a herb. A nonopioid herb. Voluntarily!!!

Please help these addicts get clean, have their families and friends and start being responsible for themselves and their families.

addictioneducation No. 13201 2017-12-03 : 05:59

Good article! Do we still have ways to do to prevent opioid addiction?

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