Is Kratom The New Marijuana?

While the war against opioids rages on, chronic pain patients are struggling to find a suitable alternative to manage their condition. As a chronic pain sufferer myself, I am always concerned about any action taken by state governments and the FDA to limit access to medication. 

Kratom is a tree from Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain compounds that have psychotropic effects. Two compounds in kratom leaves, mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxymitragynine, interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing sedation, pleasure, and decreased pain, especially when users consume large amounts of the plant. The FDA has identified Kratom as an opioid like substance with similar properties, creating a wave of regulatory actions that impact both industry and patients.

Some states are banning Kratom by classifying it as a Schedule I controlled substance, like in Ohio. Unfortunately, it may be years or even decades before enough research is conducted to prove the medical benefits of Kratom for chronic pain. Ideally, the FDA would hear the patient voice about the potential clinical benefits and investigate further. Unfortunately, as we have seen with cannabis, this is not the case.

Actions to ban Kratom and limit research initiatives hurts patients. Congress passed major opioid legislation this week that was signed into law, again showing that our government knows we desperately need to do something about the opioid crisis in our country. Limiting access to alternatives like Marijuana and Kratom is counter productive. Instead, we should be actively researching the medicinal benefits to help pain patients. They do not deserve to suffer and have their medication taken from them.

Until the FDA recognizes the potential benefits, Kratom will end up in the same battle as marijuana.