Kratom is a plant that grows naturally in Southeast Asia. It has been estimated that between 3 million and 5 million Americans regularly use kratom as an alternative to prescription pain medicines. Kratom is supposed to act on the same receptors in the brain that opioids affect. It has been used for centuries for pain management, and well as to help with fatigue, diarrhea, and coughing. Many people use kratom to help with opioid withdrawals. A recent report concluded that 91 fatal overdoses in the United States from July 2016 to December 2017 were caused by kratom. The new report has led to Kratom being scrutinized by the FDA.
Proponents of kratom have argued that the report was misleading, and that kratom is being unfairly attacked by big pharma and the FDA. They claim that there are numerous scientific studies that show kratom to be safe. They claim that other drugs such as fentanyl and cocaine were also listed as the causes of death in several of the fatal overdoses from the report.
The American Kratom Association believes that the FDA has ulterior motives, and have created a petition calling for President Donald Trump to appoint a new FDA commissioner that will listen to the science behind kratom. With the FDA’s current track record of approving deadly, fatal drugs, while at the same time banning proven, safe natural remedies, it’s hard to dismiss the validity in the American Kratom Association’s beliefs.
Is kratom safe? The science appears to say yes. Does it need to be regulated? Probably so. Even the American Kratom Association says there are tainted kratom products on the market. However, they claim that most of these tainted products are a result of the stricter regulations that the FDA is trying to impose on kratom. At the end of the day, 27,338 overdose deaths were reported during the time frame in question. Out of those, only 91 were linked to kratom. That accounts for less than 1% of fatal overdoses during that time. Fatal opioid overdoses were much higher, just saying.