Kratom (taxonomical name mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Indonesia. A relative of coffee, it has been used for its medicinal properties for hundreds of years. In recent years, it has seen its popularity as both an alternative to opioids/opiates and a recreational drug, most notably in its native Southeast Asian countries and the United States. Kratom's main active ingredients are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which act as agonists to the mu-opioid receptors in the brain. This gives them effects similar to other mu-opioid agonists such as morphine and codeine, providing pain relief, sedation, euphoria, and a reduction of anxiety. Side effects are minimal, the most common being nausea. Kratom is commonly available in the form of finely ground powder, but whole and chopped leaf is also available. There are many strains of kratom which typically fall under three main varieties - red vein, white vein, and green vein. It can be brewed into a tea, put in food, or simply swallowed with water in what is known as the "toss and wash" method. Many companies have sprung up in recent years, mostly online, selling kratom and its extracts, a clear case of the free market in action fulfilling the demand for this potentially life-enhancing drug.
Kratom has shown great promise as a safer alternative to prescription opioids, and there are many testimonies of people using it to ween themselves off of drugs such as heroin, suboxone, oxycontin, methadone, and even alcohol. In 2016, legal prescription opioids killed 42,600 people in the United States. An opioid addicted baby is born every 30 minutes. It has been estimated that there are 2.1 million Americans struggling with prescription opioid addiction, and 467,000 Americans addicted to heroin. There are thousands of anecdotal testimonies from people who have claimed that kratom helped them get off these strong opioids and get clean. Despite this, the Federal government is reluctant to participate in studies researching this. In fact, the DEA considered adding kratom and its active alkaloids to Schedule 1 of the United States Controlled Substances Act, meaning that according to them, kratom has no medical benefits, and a high potential for abuse. The FDA has also warned that kratom is "dangerous" and should be avoided at all costs, and that people should use their approved drugs such as oxycontin, suboxone, methadone, and even fentanyl instead. This is a view that is vehemently opposed by kratom advocates, and private researchers who have been studying kratom as a potential treatment for opioid addiction, pain management, and its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. The FDA recently claimed that there has been 44 deaths "associated" with kratom, while conveniently leaving out the fact that all of these victims had other drugs in their systems, including tramadol and fentanyl.
The fact that kratom has received so much demonization from the federal government comes as no surprise to kratom's advocates and true believers. The pharmaceutical industry has a huge influence on politicians and government bureaucracies through lobbying and backdoor deals. Current FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has been involved with the pharmaceutical industry in various positions, most notably as an employee of Tolero Pharmaceuticals, Daiichi Sankyo Inc, and GlaxoSmithKline. And even with all of this said, the fact of the matter is that the Federal government of the United States has no right or power granted by the Constitution to regulate ANY substances whatsoever. The United States Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional, as is the existence of the DEA and FDA. Kratom is one of the safest drugs out there, and should be completely legal along with cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, and every other drug. It should be left to the consumer to decide what drugs they should or should not take, not a nanny state that claims to have our best interests at heart. With the medical benefits of kratom totally clear to anyone who has knowledge on the plant, the use of kratom should be encouraged to those who are fighting with opioid addictions, chronic pain, anxiety and other mood disorders, even PTSD. Big Pharma sees kratom as a threat to their bottom line, and that is why they are trying to put up a fight, using slander, half-truths, and outright lies in order to push their agenda for purely monetary gain.