A few years ago, Kratom captured the public consciousness of Americans. Kratom is legal in most of the US territory, and recent time this herbal medicine has attracted close attention.
People suffering from chronic pain and disorders associated with opioid use have used kratom as a natural alternative to drug opioids or illegal fentanyl and heroin. Meanwhile, regulators tried to restrict access to this substance. The Food and Drug Administration has announced that another poorly studied opioid has appeared on the market and can be purchased without a prescription. The department believed that Kratom negatively affects the statistics of overdoses of opioids, which annually take tens of thousands of lives.
According to some estimates, millions of Americans regularly use kratom, while there is no solid evidence that the substance provokes an increase in mortality from overdoses in the United States. Thus, although Kratom is a threat, it can also be beneficial.
Let’s start with the origin of the drug.
Traditional ways to use kratom
Kratom or Mitragyna speciosa is an evergreen tropical tree that grows in several countries in Southeast Asia: Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Myanmar. For hundreds of years, locals have used it as a light stimulant, painkiller and a way to get rid of addiction to opioids.
Tea brewed from the kratom leaves helped farmers and hard workers cope with fatigue and pain. And for those who are addicted to opium or other opioid drugs, Kratom has become one way to reduce addiction to addictive substances.
Is kratom effective in treating opioid-related disorders?
As is the case with any folk remedy, forums are teeming with reviews of people who declare their refusal to use heroin or prescription opioids after taking kratom capsules or kratom tea.
But what does science say?
A group of researchers attempted to answer some of the most important questions about this plant in an article published May 16, 2019 in the journal International Journal of Drug Policy.
In short, they observed conflicting results. According to unofficial reports, kratom is an effective way to reduce opioid dependence, but “its effects have not been studied in controlled clinical trials in accordance with the requirements of regulatory authorities (for example, the FDA) to draw conclusions about the safety and effectiveness of the drug for the treatment of [disorders related to the use of opioids ] or other indications. ”
Despite the lack of large-scale research, scientists cite several small scientific papers that offer kratom as an effective treatment for disorders associated with the use of opioids. For example, a small study conducted in 2009 among Malaysians found that regular use of kratom helps reduce withdrawal symptoms from other drugs.
According to the authors of the study, several factors forced patients suffering from chronic pain to seek an alternative to traditional methods. One such factor is the opioid prescribing guidelines developed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which urges doctors to limit their long-term use of opioids. Such an approach, experts admitted, negatively affected the well-being of patients who were deprived of access to opioid prescriptions.
“The results of observations of kratom consumers in the United States are consistent with case reports and descriptions of the traditional use of this plant in Southeast Asia, suggesting that kratom can indeed replace the more dangerous classic opioids as an anesthetic and should be studied in well-controlled clinical studies, ”the authors of the article write.
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