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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

10-24-13 | By

What Exactly is Kratom?

The Truth about Kratom

Researchers in the United States are studying the potential of an herb native to Southeast Asia that would help those addicted to opiates kick their habit without the side effects associated with withdrawal.  The herb kratom is part of the coffee family and is used to relieve pain and improve mood and is seen as an opiate substitute.  In Thailand, the herb is mixed with cough syrup and sold commercially as “4×100”, which is a popular beverage in that country.  Despite the promise and potential it holds for those addicted to opiates, kratom is illegal in countries such as Thailand, Australia and Myanmar (Burma).


Kratom Concerns in the United States

According to an article published in Scientific America last month, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration has labelled kratom as a drug of interest because of the potential for abuse.  In the state of Indiana, the consumption of the herb has been banned outright.  The DEA states that kratom has no legitimate medical purposes, but in internet searches there are numerous companies that sell the herb and its’ properties are well known in the alternative medicine and drug communities. Most often, kratom is touted as a way to combat fatigue, pain and even an antidote to treat addiction to heroin.

In an article in U.S. News published in March, emergency rooms in hospitals across the United States are starting to see patients being admitted due to getting sick from taking the herb.  Kratom is also being sold in head shops and seems to be following a similar trajectory that bath salts and spice took in regards to being a popular recreational and designer drug.  Some sellers of this herb label it as incense, claiming that it is not to be sold for human consumption, but yet require that people be over 18 years of age to buy the product.

What Kratom Does

According to a news report written by Chris Ingalls at King5 news in Seattle, Washington, kratom acts as a stimulant when taken in low doses but when taken in higher doses, however, there are inverse sedative effects.  With chronic high usage, such side effects as hallucinations, delusions, listlessness, tremors, nausea and aggression have been noted.  There have been no fatalities known from use of the herb and is legal currently in the United States.

What is Being Researched

Researchers are currently studying the ability of the herb to help addicts wean themselves off of drugs such as heroin and cocaine.  There have been some studies that show that the herb has compounds that may offer an alternative to methadone.  In Thailand, officials are looking into legalizing kratom in the hopes of dealing with that country’s growing methamphetamine epidemic.  Kratom has been banned in that country for 70 years.

The future legal status of kratom in the United States is unknown.  With more research into the properties and side effects of the herb, it may follow both bath salts and spice as being made illegal substances in this country.

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