A deep dive into kratom, the herb that helps with opioid withdrawal

Kratom (previously) is a widely used herb that has been very effective in treating opioid withdrawal and other chronic, hard-to-treat conditions -- it also became very controversial this year because the DEA decided, without evidence, to class it as a dangerous drug, and then changed its mind (unprecedented!) after a mass-scale petition that included interventions from members of Congress. Read the rest

127,891 people have signed a petition to keep kratom legal

Kratom is a mildly psychoactive plant that has been used in Asia for centuries to treat pain, fatigue, depression,and anxiety. In the US it has shown promise as a way to help people who are addicted to opiates. The DEA recently announced that it is going to make kratom a Schedule I drug, which will make it very difficult for researchers to study any potential medical uses it might have.

From The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association:

In Southeast Asia, kratom has long been used for the management of pain and opium withdrawal. In the West, kratom is increasingly being used by individuals for the self-management of pain or withdrawal from opioid drugs such as heroin and prescription pain relievers. It is these aspects of kratom pharmacology that have received the most scientific attention. Although to our knowledge, no well-controlled clinical studies on the effects of kratom on humans have been published, there is evidence that kratom, kratom extracts, and molecules isolated from kratom can alleviate various forms of pain in animal models.

In response to the DEA's decision, 127,891 people have signed a White House petition to keep kratom off Schedule I. The White House is now required to respond within 60 days. Read the rest

The DEA just added a promising anti-opioid addiction herb to Schedule 1, because reasons

Kratom is a herb that has been in widespread use in Southeast Asia for centuries; it is chewed for to increase stamina, induce gentle euphoria and relaxation, and it has also been used with unheard-of success to help people kick their addictions to opioid painkillers. Read the rest

Recreational drug kratom hits the same brain receptors as strong opioids

Six US states have banned the sale and use of the Kratom, a psychoactive plant-derived drug from Southeast Asia that is available online and in head shops. Researchers studying kratom have found that it affects brain receptors for strong opioids.

From C&EN:

A new study provides some data to support those states’ concerns (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, DOI: 10.1021/jacs.6b00360). A team of researchers shows for the first time that kratom’s primary constituent, mitragynine, and four related alkaloids bind to and partially activate human µ-opioid receptors (MORs), the primary targets of strong opioids in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract.

Countdown to kratom landing on the list of federally controlled substances in 3... 2... 1... Read the rest