We live in a strange reality where ailing humans are being banned from using helpful plants. Although marijuana has been liberated in many states, other beneficial plant medicines like kratom are being increasingly prohibited.
As more and more states begin to legalize marijuana, Big Pharma profits are declining. Many have speculated that cannabis was originally banned to protect corporate interests. Perhaps the same motivation is behind the surge in legislation to ban kratom.
Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a plant in the coffee family indigenous to Southeast Asia. It functions in a similar manner to opiates with similar medicinal effects. It has been shown to alleviate chronic pain and anxiety, as well as aid in overcoming addiction and depression.
A Columbia University study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society from June of this year concludes that kratom “has been shown to exhibit antidepressant activity” and will “hold promise in the treatment of mood disorders.”
The study explains:
The plant material is typically consumed as a tea or chewed directly. At low doses, kratom is primarily used for its stimulating effects. At higher doses, opioid-like effects predominate, and the plant has been used as a general analgesic and as a substitute for opium or to treat opium withdrawal symptoms. Other medicinal applications are also known, including use as a treatment for fever, cough, diarrhea, and depression.
According to Vaults of Erowid, a hub for psychoactive knowledge, kratom is considered a subtle and short-acting sedative with few negative side effects and no reported overdose deaths.
Although kratom triggers opioid receptors, American Kratom Organization says that it is not a drug, an opiate, or a synthetic substance.
“Naturally occurring Kratom is a safe herbal supplement that’s more akin to tea and coffee than any other substances,” states American Kratom Organization’s fact page.
There are several different strains of kratom, each with varying effects. Most strains have euphoric effects, but they differ in that some offer more energy versus some that offer more relaxation. Additionally certain strains have stronger pain-relieving effects than others.
Kratom powder is ground from the leaves of the herb and usually taken in warm water as a tea. Users report that it can have mild side effects and withdrawal symptoms similar to consuming too much caffeine.
Although it is a mild substance with clear medicinal uses, lawmakers feel compelled to prohibit this natural substance while continuing to support the legality of far more dangerous substances like alcohol or countless pharmaceuticals.
Arkansas is the most recent state to ban kratom, while North Carolina and New York are the most recent states to introduce legislation to add it to their controlled substance lists.
However, at the time of this writing, it remains legal to buy kratom in 44 states.
The six states where it is banned are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin, but there are advocate groups in each state seeking to end prohibition of the plant.
Even some cities and counties like Palm Beach County in Florida attempted but failed to regulate kratom. The county regulation was to force to cafes who serve kratom tea to post warning signs that the herb can be addictive. Instead, the county delayed the regulation until a law enforcement study of kratom could be done.
The subsequent 2016 study by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found:
A review of available law enforcement and laboratory sources in Florida demonstrates that Kratom does not currently constitute a significant risk to the safety and welfare of Florida residents. According to the Florida Department of Health (DOH), no pervasive health issues have been attributed to the ingestion of Kratom products in Florida. [emphasis added]
Even power-hungry government officials can’t argue with those conclusions. It seems the failed war on drugs, especially against another helpful plant, cannabis, has given lawmakers pause in adding new natural herbs to the banned substances list.