The Food and Drug Administration has launched the latest volley in their attack on the South East Asian plant, kratom. Kratom, a botanical substance from the same family as the coffee bush, has been used for hundreds of years as an indigenous folk medicine and in recent years has become a popular supplement for a variety of conditions from chronic pain, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, anxiety, PTSD, depression and more. A recent agency analysis from the FDA has officially classified the plant as an opioid due to some binding properties. What the FDA is not taking into account is the fact that coffee, dairy products and even exercise also result in some opiate binding. As molecular biologist Dr. Jane Babin pointed out, it's not just what a compound binds to that is important but the "downstream" effects, i.e. what happens after a compound binds to some receptor in the brain.
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Scott Gottlieb, the current FDA commissioner, has been railing against kratom for some time. Somewhat ironic considering he fought for the rights of Fentanyl makers to produce more of the drug (more deadly and addictive than street heroin) after the company was found to be illegally marketing it. Gottlieb warns "there is no reliable evidence to support the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid use disorder and significant safety issues exist." Meanwhile, the former head of the National Institute of Drug Abuse and world-renowned authority on drug abuse and addiction, Dr. Jack Henningfield finds the <a href="https://thegoldwater.com/news/12994-Addiction-and-Abuse-Expert-Warns-Against-Banning-Kratom">FDA's position to be based on "junk science"</a> and points out several studies that suggest kratom has far-ranging applications and multiple benefits. Ironically, the claims that Gottlieb is making run contrary to existing studies as has been pointed out by numerous pharmacologists, scientists and researchers like Dr. Christopher McCurdy who has been researching the plant for years.
The Drug Enforcement Administration was considering a ban already after a historic victory for kratom consumers and advocates last year in the face of an imminent Federal ban via scheduling. Columbia University associate research scientist at Columbia University has pointed out errors in the FDA's research as well:
<blockquote>"They said these compounds are predicted to turn on those opioid receptors; that's already known," Kruegel said. "I don't understand what that's contributing to the field … It's almost like going back to an earlier stage of scientific discovery."</blockquote>
Kruegel also points out a Schedule 1 ban would impede any scientific research on the plant as well. The American Kratom Association has also spoken out against the FDA's latest statement.
"Our scientists will review the statement, but there are clear mistakes based on pre-existing confirmation bias on the part of the FDA," the AKA wrote in a statement.
FDA has claimed 44 deaths related to kratom use since 2011. This is up from the claim of 36 just months ago. The 36 deaths figure, however, has been <a href="https://thegoldwater.com/news/11986-FDA-Falsely-Claims-36-Deaths-Related-to-Kratom">debunked by scientists</a> and confirmed by expert forensic toxicologists. This despite the fact that in laboratory conditions even small animals couldn't be killed with any amount of the active constituents of the plant. Considering the fact that a sufficient amount of salt will induce a stroke, this effectively makes the plant "safer than salt" and considering the antioxidant, immunostimulant and other nutritive properties, certainly healthier across the board. The claims of deaths due to kratom don't take into account potentially deadly interactions based on other pharmaceutical substances found in the bodies of the deceased. If you see someone with a smoking gun in one hand, massive bleeding from a head wound and a cup of lemonade in the other hand, would your first conclusion be that lemonade is lethal?
The same agency that recently cleared the use of Oxycontin, or "Hillbilly heroin" as it is referred to in some areas where it is highly abused, for preteens is pulling out all the stops to ban this plant. Meanwhile, the same man demonizing a plant that helps millions is partially responsible for the current opioid epidemic for his part in beefing up the supply of Fentanyl years back.
According to the latest federal data, 42,249 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016.