The Psychoactive Opioid Kratom Can Force a Broader Drug Legalization Debate

As the pot debate rages on, kratom, a psychoactive drug made from the leaves of a Southeast Asian tree, is quietly flooding the online recreational drug market. Its Xanax-like high, rumored side effects, and addictive potential have some state drug enforcers itching to ban it. But, as physicians at a Wisconsin hearing pointed out on Tuesday, it’s a lot less dangerous than the prescription opioids that have almost 9 million Americans in their grip. It might even offer a way to help.

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Kratom: Therapy or Threat?

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tree-like plant in the same botanical family as the coffee tree and gardenia (Rubiaceae), and is native to Southeast Asia. Other names for kratom are ketum, thang, icthang, kakuam, kraton, thom, and biak-biak. Kratom has been used for centuries in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia to combat fatigue and, empirically, to treat pain and opioid withdrawal symptoms.[1,2] It is most commonly used orally, as fresh leaves that are chewed or that have been prepared as an extract, or as dried plant material brewed as a tea or ingested in gelatin capsules. Less frequently, kratom is smoked.

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Recovering addicts, local officials warn that kratom is dangerous and addictive

CLEVELAND - Local officials and Cleveland-area residents are speaking out against kratom, an herb that they said is dangerous and highly addictive, especially for recovering drug addicts. But a lobbying group said there is a big misunderstanding about it. “It’s a tease,” said Kayley, a 22-year-old Euclid woman who said she became addicted to kratom after she got clean from heroin. “I think it’s a big way to relapse.”

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Experts Speak Out on Benefits of Kratom: Why it Would be a Mistake to Ban It

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Botanical Legal Defense (BLD), an educational and advocacy group focused on promoting and protecting the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of natural plants and herbal supplements, is concerned that Kratom is, at times, misrepresented as dangerous and without medical value. Kratom, a 100 percent natural plant and herbal supplement from Southeast Asia, has been used safely for hundreds of years as a natural analgesic, muscle relaxer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and opioid withdrawal treatment.

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With Mounting Pressure From FDA, Vivazen Removes Kratom in Product Reformulation

Vivazen, a shot-format herbal liquid supplement marketed for pain relief, has removed the controversial ingredient kratom from its formulation. The decision to do so comes out of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s continued crackdown on kratom, a botanical that’s been characterized as producing opiate-like effects and addictive properties.

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