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Educating the Public on Kratom

Mar 11th 2019

These articles are written by reporters for Westword in Denver CO. They are reporting on the data currently available out there about Kratom. Laughing Lion Herbs, it's affiliates, owners, employees, and associate companies in no way endorse the consumption of kratom nor make any claims about the effects that kratom has medical or otherwise. We disclaim that the opinions in these posts are not necessarily those of our company, staff, or associates. 

In recent years, kratom has exploded in popularity. It’s gaining traction with consumers in the health and wellness community, and it’s also making a lot of media headlines. Some researchers are doing their part to learn and share the truth about kratom, while other parties are more interested in pushing an agenda or getting views.

The potential implications of this plant make it important to understand what kratom really is as well as what it isn’t. Before you can responsibly educate the public about kratom, it’s important to have a good understanding yourself.

Educating Your Customers About Kratom

The most important step to teaching the public about kratom is to exercise great care and caution. Keep up to date with the most recent and reliable scientific research, and do not make any unfounded or unresearched claims. Doing so could be detrimental to the effort to keep kratom legal for those who count on it. Much worse, spreading misinformation about such an important and sensitive subject is bad for the general public.

Luckily, some of the best institutions in the world are hard at work to learn and share more information about kratom. Some of the most respected sources leading the charge include Ph.D.-certified scientists from the following:

  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Pinney Associates
  • University of Rochester Medical Center
  • University of Florida College of Pharmacy and Department of Medicinal Chemistry

Kratom Trade Association offers a compilation of studies about kratom. This is a great starting point for any business or organization that wants to publish well-sourced claims about kratom and its effects.

Will the DEA Ban Kratom?

As long ago as 2016, the DEA said it intended to classify the active compounds in kratom as Schedule One substances. So far, there has been no such classification, which is great for kratom users and vendors alike. Part of the reason there was no official ruling in 2016 is because a large grassroots community of kratom enthusiasts generated backlash against a prohibition.

Kratom consumers have been known to use the plant both recreationally and with medicinal intent. The potential benefits of kratom are still partially unknown, but even a few years ago there was strong anecdotal evidence to support health and wellness benefits. Peaceful crowds demonstrated in front of the White House, concerned citizens contacted Congress, and a petition earned well over 100,000 signatures in support of legal kratom.

In response to this overwhelming support, the DEA quickly announced that they would suspend any scheduling of Kratom. More recently, though, representatives of the DEA have said that a ruling is imminent, but there is little to indicate which way the legislation will go. Some sources seem resigned to the possibility that their favorite health and wellness plant will be outlawed, while others are much more helpful.

Beyond the public opinion of American citizens, there are two key factors that could weigh on the DEA’s decision:

  1. The War on Drugs - The United States is several decades into the war on drugs started by resigned president Richard Nixon. Public opinion and studies of social science have, at many times, chalked the effort up as a failure. The US government has spent trillions on drug enforcement, the country has developed both an opioid crisis and America’s prison population is the largest in the world. Many American prisoners are incarcerated because of nonviolent drug offenses.
  2. Big Pharmaceutical Lobbyists - The prescription painkiller industry generates tens of billions of dollars in sales every year, and their lobby groups want to keep it that way. Kratom is perceived as a threat to markets for drugs like Methadone and Suboxone. Kratom is relatively inexpensive, and its consumers often claim this plant is a safer, more natural alternative to synthesized pharmaceutical drugs. The big pharma lobby would much prefer to keep patients buying their prescribed treatments for pain and addiction.

Kratom VS. the Opioid Crisis

Much of the community support for kratom claims that the plant can work as a substitute for opioid-withdrawal drugs as well as opioids themselves. Certain compounds found in kratom bind to kappa opioid receptors in the brain. That said, this plant is not a close chemical relative of the opium poppy. Biologically, it’s actually in the Rubiaceae family with coffee.

There are some fears that kratom could contribute to the opioid problem in the United States, but leading scientists beg to differ. Some of them wrote an open letter to the White House and DEA in February of 2018. The signatures on this letter include well-respected research scientists, chemists, and thought leaders in psychiatry and behavioral science.

The entire letter is a valuable tool for educating the public on kratom. The following quote is especially relevant to the relationship between kratom and the current opioid problem in the United States:

We believe strongly that the current body of credible research on the actual effects of kratom demonstrates that it is not dangerously addictive, nor is it similar to “narcotics like opioids” with respect to “addiction” and “death” as stated by the FDA in its November 14th Kratom Advisory. Equally important, four surveys indicate that kratom is presently serving as a lifeline away from strong, often dangerous opioids for many of the several million Americans who use kratom.’

Explaining the Benefits of Kratom

As a kratom vendor, it’s important to explain the benefits kratom can produce. After all, your business depends on your ability to accurately convey what this plant is capable of. There is a wide variety of anecdotal evidence online, but it can be hard to validate such claims. Instead, look to quotes like the following, and make the sources available.

There are plenty of study results available that can be used to educate the public about kratom. Relying on published materials from established scientific organizations ensures a degree of accuracy, lends credibility to claims, and provides some level of legal protection for vendors who share the information.

Here are two examples of quotes from notable research that speak to the benefits of kratom:

  • “Findings indicate kratom’s potential as a harm reduction tool, most notably as a substitute for opioids among people who are addicted. Kratom also enhances mood and relieves anxiety among many users. For many, kratom’s negative mental health effects – primarily withdrawal symptoms – appear to be mild relative to those of opioids.” Source Study
  • “Kratom leaves and extracts have been used for centuries in Southeast Asia and elsewhere to manage pain and other disorders and, by mid-twentieth century, to manage opioid withdrawal. Kratom has some opioid effects but low respiratory depression and abuse potential compared to opioids of abuse.”... “There has been no documented threat to public health that would appear to warrant emergency scheduling of the products and placement in Schedule I of the CSA carries risks of creating serious public health problems.” Source Study

The stated results above are from studies published by scientists with impressive credentials. It is important to note that this qualitative and quantitative research and relies on self-reported information. There is still a need for controlled trials on kratom, which is one of the reasons many medical professionals want to keep it legal until we have better data.

How to Help Customers Find the Best Kratom for Them

Kratom customers often choose their favorite strain(s) depending on what they want from their kratom. To learn more about educating the public about kratom and sourcing the best product for various consumers, contact us today.