Submitted by David Beaver

Lately there has been a great deal of buzz surrounding various controversy medicines from foreign systems like Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese to homeopathic and herbal remedies, and of course the practice of medicine, which employs the use of what the federal government sees as "illicit substances. This has become a rising and even more, eye catching trend with the rise of medicinal marijuana in states where it has become legal as well as in the face of the opioid epidemic that has many in the medical and political community on high alert.


Opioid deaths are indeed on the rise and while many have arisen from the abuse and ultimately overdose of heroin, an even larger portion can be claimed by legal prescription opioids. These include methadone, which has been used to help ween opioid actives off of more serious drugs as well as various prescription painkillers as well as elements used in common anesthesia methods. According to the Center for Disease control from the periods of 2000-2015 alone, 500,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses, and 91 die a day from opioid overdoses. Noting the sales to doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies have quadrupled from 1999-2010 they acknowledge that prescription opioids are a driving factor in these increases of opioid-related deaths.


Due to this disturbing trend, the authorities are on high alert for anything resembling drugs that share traits with their prescription counterparts, including the safer opioid alternative kratom. Kratom has been used to treat addiction and dependence on more serious opioids as well as in soothing the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. It has also been used in the treatment of severe pain and in alleviating the horrors associated with PTSD in U.S war veterans. According to University of Mississippi kratom researcher, Chris McCurdy, whose research has been discussed in Forbes Magazine, despite the great deal of fear that has been aimed at kratom due to the opioid epidemic, the opioid content of kratom is much lower than both its illegal and prescription alternatives in opioid content and its opioids are far less potent . Kratom is a natural plant that grows in the wild and is available to patients in leaf form or more potently as an extract. Some people have taken it in capsule or form or have brewed it into a tea. In the state of Pennsylvania, however, it is currently only legal to burn as an incense and is not labeled for internal use. While not as effective, this method has been shown to work in some patients as well.



According to McCurdy, there has been a great deal of research surrounding its use as an opioid cessation method or alternative through the country of Malaysia.


There are some risks of forming a dependence on kratom but they are much lower than their prescription alternatives and the overdose ratio is also much lower. Between the years 2014-2016 there have been 15 deaths reported that were alleged to be associated with kratom, bearing in mind that 91 Americans die each day from their prescription counterparts.


Despite all of this the DEA recently tried to reclassify kratom as a Stage 1 Narcotic, which would all but shut down both its use and a great deal of research surrounding it. The DEA has tried to do so before and failed just as it has this time, but it is a never-ending struggle. The kratom community is a growing and active one, and recently defeated this attempt by the DEA who admitted that there had not yet been enough research or consideration of public concern when attempting to execute this measure.



Perhaps it is just one more example of the government's many attempts to snuff out alternative medicine, which does not always do more good than harm.