This. Is. Awesome.
After public outcry (thank you to everyone who loudly objected or made stories about this go viral) and objections from members of Congress, the DEA has withdrawn its decision to classify two chemicals produced naturally by the kratom tree as Schedule I controlled substances! However, we aren’t out of the woods yet; the DEA has opened a formal comment period for public and technical comments on the two alkaloids from kratom: mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. The Federal Register has instructions for the submission of comments made electronically or via mail, with the comment period ending on December 1, 2016.
Since the initial announcement, there has been collective outrage from users who report many benefits from the medicinal herb. So, while the DEA took the position that mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine were opioids associated with dozens of deaths and no medical use, users knew differently. Therefore, congressional representatives, kratom users, and journalists flooded the DEA with info on the health benefits of powdered kratom leaves for issues ranging from chronic pain and depression to alcohol and opioid dependence. And we NEED help with our current opioid epidemic. In fact, over 142,000 signatures were received endorsing a White House petition to reverse the impending ban on kratom.
From the article:
“Three separate actions by congressional representatives were also issued over the last month: a letter of objection to the Office of Management and Budget by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) signed by 51 members of the House of Representatives, a Dear Colleague objection led by Sen Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and a strong letter to DEA from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
At one point during the month, DEA spokesperson Melvin Patterson told me that he arrived each morning to over 200 kratom user testimonials on his voicemail.”
So again, while this temporary hold is good, we aren’t out of the woods yet; the medicinal claims about the plant have not been fully investigated via clinical trials. Currently, rodent studies support that individual kratom alkaloids have significant pain-killing effects but that’s not enough for the DEA and FDA. Nor are the two studies published this summer by Columbia University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Those studies showed that “individual chemicals from kratom leaves and chemical relatives made in the lab had peculiar actions on opioid receptors that distinguished them from the strong opioids at the center of North America’s opioid epidemic, such as heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone. These studies showed that the kratom-derived compounds had self-limiting effects on the primary opioid receptor involved in pain and did so in a way the drove nerve cell signals toward a pathway associated with fewer side effects” reports the article.
But the problem with the controlled clinical trials would be: “What kratom product do you use?” and “How do you administer it?”
Because different varieties of the plant/tree exist and vary considerably in the presence, or absence, of individual alkaloids, different methods of ingestion would affect how much of the active component got absorbed.
In the U.S., laws governing drugs and dietary supplements aren’t favorable to kratom; dietary supplements are treated as food and can, therefore, be sold without safety/efficacy testing as long as they contain dietary ingredients marketed in the U.S. before October 15, 1994, and have a history of safe use, with no direct disease treatment claims. But the FDA currently sees kratom supplements as containing, “a new dietary ingredient for which there is inadequate information to provide reasonable assurance that such ingredient does not present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury”. So, if they go the medicinal route, the moment those medical uses of kratom are advertised, the herb would be treated as a drug and would have to go through preclinical and clinical trials in order to bring it to market.
All this means we are stuck in a holding pattern- but we shouldn’t give up. Please take a moment to log your public comment. If enough of us use our voices, we can force the DEA and FDA to do their due diligence. No, it doesn’t always happen quickly but we can’t give up. We are drowning in opioid abuse and we need help. And people who are currently finding hope in this plant shouldn’t have to stop benefitting from it.
We will update you as soon as we have more info.