Kratom – Wonder Drug or Potential Health Threat?

Posted: October 16, 2013 in Law, Research
Tags: , , , , ,

This week, researchers from Harvard are warning that a workout supplement, marketed under the brand name Craze, may contain DMAA, a potentially harmful synthetic methamphetamine-like substance. An attorney for the maker of Craze has denied those allegations, but questions remain about the product’s safety in light of the reported Harvard findings.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /

At the same time, use of another naturally-occurring stimulant, Mitragyna speciosa, more commonly known as kratom, has raised hardly any concerns at all, despite its unknown long-term effects and the fact that it’s currently being used by millions in the U.S.

Kratom is a plant indigenous to Southeast Asia and is a member of the coffee family.  It’s readily available for sale on the internet, and a reported 40 million people currently use it for a variety of ills, including to mitigate opioid withdrawal. It’s apparently not illegal in the U.S. to use or possess, but it’s also not FDA approved, nor is it well studied or understood at this point.

The DEA lists it as a “drug of concern,” and has also noted its use in the illegal manufacture of synthetic heroin.

It is currently outlawed in Thailand and several other countries around the world, but some are arguing that it should be legalized and used to treat substance abuse disorders, especially withdrawal symptoms.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

According to a 2013 case study published by the National Institutes of Health about a 43-year-old man who used kratom to on his own to manage his issues with pain and opioid withdrawal:

One striking finding of this report is the extent to which kratom attenuates potentially severe opioid withdrawal, yet cessation of kratom administration itself appears to be associated with modest abstinence symptoms.

The report also notes, however, that the risks and outcomes of long-term use are still largely unknown.

According to the Kratom Association, many of the risks and downsides of kratom have been overblown or misreported in the media, including its safety, its addictive properties, and its potential for legitimate medical use.

As in the NIH study above, the Kratom Association highlights the drug’s potential for treating substance abuse in particular:

Kratom is an exceptional aid for overcoming addiction. For many people, it still is the only thing that has ever truly worked. From alcohol to prescription drugs or heroin, countless people have used kratom to rid themselves of their addictions and regain control of their lives. It contains for example the compound rhynchophylline, also found in cat’s claw that possesses NMDA antagonistic qualities, which are proven to disrupt addiction and habituation.

What are your thoughts? Have you used either Craze or kratom? How should these substances be handled in terms of medical treatment or use as supplements?

Leave a comment and share your perspective!

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  1. George says:

    I’ve been on doctor prescribed pain meds for over 12 years. I’ve tried and tried, and tried again to get away from the opiates all together. Spent 4 years on suboxone. I tried many times to get off that! Nothing until kratom came to play!! It saved my life!!! Not taking anythin for months now! Why! Kratom!!! A ground up leaf saved my life!! Not doctors or their drugs. You do not get high from kratom!! It binds to the same receptors in your brain that opiates do. It allieviates the pain and sickness from withdrawal.


  2. DigitalDoom says:

    Why on God’s green earth did this article get published? And on a so called ” law/justice” blog to boot.

    Has this whole nation gone insane with trying to create new ways to make every citizen guilty of some type of crime? Every day more worthless legislation is proposed to make more things illegal….things like Coffee relatives (ie. Kratom).

    We all had better get a grip on the gravity of the growing situation in the USA or I fear we will soon find it’s sneaked in and gripped us all….like an Anaconda!


    • The people who fall into this kind of trap (as “journalists”;) usually do it out of ignorance. The world is no longer in the Good Ol’ Boy Network” but the playing field is leveled. The “Average Joe” can get on the Internet and find the real truth; not stop at one or two fearmonger articles like this.

      And the only real research in the USA thus far gives kratom a glowing report (Ole Miss phamamacology school).

      We’ve got a LOT of big problems in America that need attention immediately. Going after kratom is just another “wag the dog” so the real issue might go unnoticed. “Nothing to see here folks, move along to where we saved your lives from that horrible drug kratom which by the way is not a drug but a plant leaf which has never killed one person nor has anyone overdosed on it; nor has it caused any crime, etc”.

      I’m surprised people even still try this to enable their thin veneer agenda. We can expect it from Big Pharma; just like they did with pot to make sure they didn’t lose a fortune; but there was no Internet then, and it was difficult for the average joe to know pot was not only harmless but quite health enhancing.

      The studies in S.E Asia and there have been many, show the same about kratom; heart health, anti-tumor, lowers blood pressure, and like pot, dissolves any and all pain caused by chemo.

      America is not this dumb. We should learn from history so as not to repeat it to appease a few of the 1% who will get even richer by kratom being illegal.


  3. Good. Get Craze off the street and keep it off before it kills or hurts someone (if it hasn’t already) But why in heaven’s name would an institution as astute as Harvard throw an organic (proven safe…it’s never killed anyone nor has anyone ovrerdosed on kratom) mix it in a study that has nothing to do with Craze. If the maniacs who make Craze decided to throw Kratom in the mix, it’s probably the safest (and only safe thing in the chem-mix). There’s LOTs of long-term studies; google “Kratom studies S.E. Asia). Also quit with the “Reefer Madness” fear bites. And why you’re at it, why not google “Ole Miss Kratom” which is the only major U.S. study on kratom yet. And I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but it was so positive, it is calling for more studies. Appears to have the potential to save more lives than rehabs. Do you work in a rehab? Is that the issue here? Kratom is safe? Kratom is not the chemial man-made drug “Craze”. It isn’t even a drug. It is a medicinal plant as is marijuana (but most likely safer if that is possible). I think its great that you are making us aware of chemically made poisons like craze that could kill our children. But when you throw Kratom in the “article mix”, you actually take away any credence of the true problem, Craze. BTW Kratom not only saved my life, but also my quality of life. Due to chronic severe pain I had one option according to the medical community. Deadly opiate prescription drugs. I haven’t touched them in a year, nor have I had (for the most part) any pain. I’ve not had to up my dosage of kratom since the very first day I took it. I’ve quit kratom for a week and its cousin coffee for a week. I found coffee much more intense and uncomfortable. Please, research carefully before doing this kind of thing. Thank you. Lives are being saved due to kratom, and the worst thing we can do is stop that from happening.


    • Ed Hoy says:

      I have had a VERY similar experience with Kratom. It has literally saved my life. Thank you for speaking truth about this unadulterated plant.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are quite welcome Ed and good luck to you. I am so glad you were blessed to find kratom. Today Indiana (one of two U.S. states that had outlawed kratom reversed that decision and it is now legal again, thank God.

        And I assume for the same reason they keep it legal in 48 other states, so that people who suffer from severe chronic pain, and the only medical alternative is heavy opiate drugs, the state governments are smart enough to realize it is up to us, adults (I’m 59) to make an extremely important (life or death) choice. Most of us choose life, and a very high quality of it.

        Drugs do not offer that. They offer a slow strange horrible kind of death. Thank you Indiana for re-thinking such a vital decision that saves a lot of lives. Meanwhile we’ll pray for the people of Tn who are suffering excruciating pain, and the pain of political power grabs that make no sense and keep them trapped in that kind of pain.

        We’ve seen this movie before (with marijuana); which reminds me a bit of kratom (except kratom does not offer the eurphoria which is fine with me as I only take it for analgesic purposes), in 1935 when America’s 1st drug czar wanted to make a name for himself. At the time science knew marijuana was safe, but this czar who called it “locoweed” claimed Mexican men were smuggling it into the U.S. and raping and kidnapping our women. Within a month, it was scheduled as a drug along with heroin and cocaine (same class). How did that work out for us America?

        I think educated America has learned an extremely important lesson. The others are doomed to repeat it. Even if kratom were dangerous, outlawing it is not the answer. Did some not learn that either? Whew


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