Tag Archives: kratom

DEA Delays Kratom Ban, More Senators Object To Process And ‘Unintended Consequences’

This is an update to my first post about kratom, dated August 30, 2016.  A follow-up by David Kroll on Forbes, shows that the DEA is listening to some of our representatives in government who are listening to their constituents.

kratom plant

Mr. Kroll states:

I was on the phone today [September 30, 2016] with DEA spokesperson Russ Baer when the clock struck 5:00 pm on the East Coast without a final order from the agency making two chemicals from kratom Schedule I controlled substances. Baer said that the plan to place the plant alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, onto the most restrictive classification of drugs of abuse and public health risk is still in progress and “will come sooner rather than later.”

The alkaloids have been known for over a decade to possess some modest opioid actions but their potential benefit for patients with chronic pain and substance dependence was overlooked in the notice of intent to place the botanical chemicals in the same class as heroin, LSD and mescaline.

Meanwhile today, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a two-page letter to DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg calling for the agency to delay this scheduling order. The Senators objected to the emergency, temporary scheduling order that could be enacted within 30 days without “a robust process of stakeholder input and discussion of medical, public safety and scientific considerations.”

In the intervening 30 days, kratom advocates and researchers have voiced concern that the botanical dietary supplement does indeed have legitimate medical uses, although not as an FDA-approved botanical drug. Most vocal on the scientific side have been researchers at Columbia University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The teams have independently and collaboratively published two papers on kratom-derived chemicals and their potentially beneficial constellation of complex actions on human opioid receptors.

Columbia associate research scientist, Andrew Kruegel, PhD, was specifically cited in the Booker-Gillibrand-Wyden letter to DEA as he led an 11-scientist letter of objection to kratom scheduling that was submitted to congressional representatives on September 2. Kruegel is also first author on a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society in May showing the alkaloids in kratom act on opioid receptor signal transmission entirely differently [from] strong opioids such as morphine, fentanyl and oxycodone, posing less risk of respiratory depression.

This is the first time that Congressional elected officials have come out of their respective “closets” and are taking a stand against the strong-arm DEA when they have proof that the “plant” does have medical properties which are not as risky as the opioids.  In doing so, these Senators, in taking this heroic, progressive stand, are, in essence, thumbing their noses at Big Pharma and the FDA; telling them there is scientific evidence proving the benefits of kratom, and there is another way other than opioids, to help patients who are suffering with pain.

There is a big “however,” because Russ Baer, spokesperson for the DEA, still believes kratom’s inclusion on Schedule I “will come sooner rather than later.”

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The DEA Is At War With Chronically Ill Patients – Again

An article on Forbes.com, written by David Kroll, caught my attention.

kratom plant

The Kratom Plant

First, it was and still is, Cannabis.  Now, it’s another plant.  A natural medicine – not artificially-produced, addictive, pain killers and human killers, known as “opioids,” by Big Pharma.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has filed a notice of intent (PDF) to place the southeast Asian plant called kratom to the most restrictive classification of the Controlled Substances Act. The plant, Mitragyna speciosa, and its two primary constituents, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, will be temporarily placed onto Schedule I on September 30, according to a filing by the DEA today.

Mr. Kroll also states:

Various forms of kratom and teas made from the plant’s leaves are sold in cafes and on the internet. Their primary effect is to provide a short-lived peaceful and calm feeling that is described as pleasant. Consistent with this effect being opioid-like, anecdotal reports indicate that some users have used kratom to successfully recover from physical and psychological dependence on prescription opioids and heroin. Comments on my last report on kratom have also indicated the successful use of teas made from the plant in managing chronic pain without the side effects and addictive potential of prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine.

Research has shown why kratom might be a useful and safer alternative to prescription opioids:  its inherent alkaloids, metabolite and an oxidation product in the plant, minimize the opioid receptors in the body.  If the opioid receptors in the body’s cells were not reduced by not consuming kratom, you would have normal body’s “tolerance and dose escalation commonly seen with prescription opioids.”

Thank the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Its main goal is to protect public health and safety through the control and prevention of disease, injury, and disability) for “protecting public health” in this case; (as in the case of Cannabis – Marijuana) as well.

Last month, the CDC came out with a report that kratom “can be abused and that poison control centers have received over 660 calls between 2010 and 2015 regarding kratom intoxication.”  The report stated the plant kratom, had a “stimulant effect” and was “an opioid substitute.”  Opioids are suppressants.  How can kratom be an “opioid substitute” when it has a “stimulant effect”?  How can a plant be an opioid substitute when it actually lessens the effect of an opioid?  The plant lessens the dependency on opioids.

No scientific testing was done.  The DEA has acted only on CDC’s reports of use of kratom which showed:

  • Medical outcomes associated with kratom exposure were reported as: minor (minimal signs or symptoms, which resolved rapidly with no residual disability) for 162 (24.5%) exposures;
  • Moderate (non-life threatening, with no residual disability, but requiring some form of treatment) for 275 (41.7%) exposures; and
  • Major (life-threatening signs or symptoms, with some residual disability) for 49 (7.4%) exposures;
  • For 173 (26.2%) exposure calls, no effects were reported, or poison center staff members were unable to follow up again regarding effects.
  • One death was reported in a person who was exposed to the medications paroxetine (an antidepressant) and lamotrigine (an anticonvulsant and mood stabilizer) in addition to kratom.

The Drug Enforcement Administration includes kratom on its Drugs of Concern list (substances that are not currently regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, but that pose risks to persons who abuse them), and the National Institute of Drug Abuse has identified kratom as an emerging drug of abuse.

Among calls reporting use of kratom in combination with other substances (multiple exposures), the most commonly reported other substances were ethanol, other botanicals, benzodiazepines, narcotics, and acetaminophen.

Aspirin is a drug that could be abused; Tylenol (acetaminophen), Naproxen and Ibuprofen are drugs that could be abused.  Anything taken in huge doses, which are now “safe drugs” could turn into abusive drugs.  If a person’s intent is to inflict harm, it can be accomplished.

The last sentences of the CDC report are:

Kratom use appears to be increasing in the United States, and the reported medical outcomes and health effects suggest an emerging public health threat. Members of the public and health care providers should be aware that the use of kratom can lead to severe adverse effects, especially when consumed in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

The CDC report was based on 660 reports between 2010 and 2015 across the 50 states; more than half of which showed no harm or very little harm to those who consumed kratom.  I believe this is going “a little” overboard.

It is plain to me that the DEA and CDC are doing everything they can, to protect Big Pharma, even when it makes sense to only the DEA and CDC, for which we, with our tax dollars, are paying through the nose.  Again.  Yet.  Still.

Source:  Article by Forbes contributor, David Kroll

[Image of Kratom plant from Forbes.com]

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