Kratom Facts - What Critics Say, What Users Report
(UPDATE) Is Kratom safe? Critics claim Kratom is bad but are they judging Kratom too soon? Kratom's pain relieving effects as a plant medicine are proven. Kratom reported to help opioid addiction and even alcoholism. Can we stop the DEA from banning it? Big pharmaceutical companies stand to lose a lot of money if Kratom use spreads. What's the truth on Kratom? Can it help you?
by Tom Brennan and Mark Lawrence
, Copyright © SecretsofSurvival.com
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Herbal Medicine: How Knowing Medicinal Plants Can Save Your Life in an Emergency
Sam Coffman is a former U.S. Special Forces Green Beret Medic with over 20 years experience working with medicinal plants. Here he instructs on the many uses of medicinal plants in a disaster or post-apocalypse scenario with several examples.
The Top Medicinal Plants of North America
Medicinal plants may be right under your feet, in your backyard and all around at a local park. North America has a variety of medicinal plants and can be an essential component of survival first aid.
15 Clinically Proven Herbs and Supplements
Are the best medicines found in nature? The right herbal remedies could make the difference between a full recovery or a slow and tragic death to an injury, infection, illness, or disease following a long term disaster.
The Kratom debate -- plant medicine with proven medicinal properties or is it an "illegal drug" and a public health threat?
First, a word of caution
This article is not intended to recommend, promote or condemn the dietary supplement Kratom. The recent public health advisory from the FDA has placed a spotlight on this controversial medicinal herb. Every human has a unique metabolic "signature" and can have adverse reactions to just about anything (re: peanut allergies). Almost any substance that can affect a mood change can be addictive (alcohol, tobacco). Persons who seek to use this substance to any extreme or for non-health promoting uses should be responsible and do their research. This is intended to be an objective discussion of issues connected to the use of this supplement and related products and to provide data, statistics and information which the mainstream media is likely to ignore.
Second, a warning about corporate greed and it's influence on American health
I think most people can agree that big pharmaceutical companies are more concerned about making billions in profit than ever seeking cures and improving overall public health. These billion dollar corporations can't exist unless they have a lot of sick people to "treat" and then continue to "treat" year after year, decade after decade.
When it comes to Kratom these same pharmaceutical companies may have a lot to lose -- and so Kratom may be a growing target for lobbyists that support the pharmaceutical industry. If you've only heard "bad" things about Kratom, this article may come as a surprise.
Kratom in the news
In a November 30, 2016 article
, Wired had this to say about Kratom:
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On September 30, representatives both conservative and liberal—from Orrin Hatch to Bernie Sanders—penned a letter to the DEA. "Given the long reported history of kratom use, coupled with the public's sentiment that it is a safe alternative to prescription opioids, we believe using the regular review process would provide for a much-needed discussion among all stakeholders," they wrote.
It worked. The DEA lifted the notice of emergency scheduling, and opened a public comment period until December 1. When was the last time the DEA backed off anything? "This is unusual," says Gantt Galloway, a Bay Area pharmacologist specializing in treatments for addictive drugs. Galloway could not recall another instance when the DEA responded to public outcry like this.
As of this writing, those comments number nearly 11,000. They are from: people who use kratom to relieve chronic pain or endometriosis or gout; people who use kratom to treat depression or wean off opioids or alcohol; people who said it saved their life. "It doesn't allow you to escape your problems," says Susan Ash, founder of the AKA, who used kratom to treat pain and escape an addiction to prescription opioids. "It instead has you face them full on because it doesn't numb your brain at all, and it doesn't make you feel stoned like medical marijuana does. And yet it's effective on so many things, like pain and anxiety and depression."
* * * * *
There are powerful people in the pharmaceutical industry who likely thrive on sick Americans
Plant medicine is a game changer and can truly put a dent in big pharmaceutical's bank account if the mainstream will learn more about it and then embrace it. Plant medicine can cure illness, speed wound healing, and may even prevent certain types of disease.
Plant medicine can save lives in a medical emergency
If you're surviving in an off grid environment, even just hiking, hunting or fishing somewhere, if you or someone in your group has an emergency, doctors may be hours away from your location. You're on your own and this is where plant medicine can save the day.
Just ask Sam Coffman, a former writer for SecretsofSurvival.com and a U.S. Special Forces Green Beret medic with a survival and herbalism school in Texas.
He's taught a lot of people on herbal medicine over the years including who knows how many U.S. Special Forces soldiers who have spent time around him.
As he's stressed repeatedly, plant medicine, when used correctly, can save lives in an off grid emergency, in a post collapse environment and even in a war zone.
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Plant medicine -- and Kratom -- is an important topic
When it comes to plant medicine, it's an important topic that hits home for a lot of our readers. With Kratom making headline news at times, and knowing that big pharmaceutical companies will likely lobby against it and attempt to turn the DEA against Kratom, we have done our own research here and what we have found (and what our publisher even experienced) may surprise you.
Kratom doesn't seem to be bad at all. It should be used responsibly, in moderation, and only for the purpose of physical pain relief -- unless you're coming off opioid addiction, including heroin (that is another reason to consider Kratom). Science doesn't have any long term data on Kratom, but we do know that it's been consumed for several centuries in Southeast Asia where it's a native plant and grows widespread in several places.
An Herb Wades Into an Opioid Crisis
In that same article from Wired, quoted earlier in this article..
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Kratom is not an opioid—actually, it is in the coffee family—but its active molecules bind to the same neuronal receptors as opioids like heroin, codeine, oxycodone, and morphine. Typically, those drugs give users a feeling of euphoria and dull their pain—that's why David*, a former boarding school teacher, started using prescription opioids to treat his discomfort from ski injuries. He became addicted, and when his prescriptions ran out, he switched to heroin. "I became a high functioning user,” he says. "My addiction was never detected at my place of employment, although I do think my behavior became more erratic."
When David eventually committed himself to rehab, his doctors weaned him off heroin using suboxone, a combination of two drugs—buprenorphine, a partial opioid that quenches the body's chemical thirst, and naltrexone, which blocks any euphoric opioid feelings. But suboxone can give users symptoms of withdrawal, not to mention a dulled sense of reality. And users like David can still find ways to abuse it. "Dependence on that was different from heroin, and it became easier to take more suboxone to a higher high, or selling it to score heroin again," he says.
As of this writing, though, David has been clean for 18 months—success that he attributes to kratom. Since it binds to the same receptors as opioids, kratom users report similar euphoric and pain-killing effects, but they're muted.
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Does Kratom cure ulcers?
Kratom didn't cure our publisher's ulcers, which were the result of a long unknown gluten allergy eventually destroying much of his stomach lining and making him a lot more susceptible to ulcers and gerd. But Kratom did give him immediate pain relief when Tylenol wouldn't touch the pain and aspirin and nsaids were off limits (to any one suffering from ulcers, both can make ulcers worse).
In just a few weeks' time he did cure his recent ulcers due to some dietary changes and gives credit to Kratom for relieving him of the pain that otherwise was just too much at times.
Is Kratom a cure?
That depends on who you ask. While it doesn't cure cancer it's opioid like effects can be a pain reliever without the same stoned high seen in medical marijuana. That's when it's taken in moderation, a lower dose.
Some people consider Kratom a cure for opioid addiction
In fact many report it as a cure for their addiction to dangerous opioids; instead of taking powerful drugs like oxycontin they are taking Kratom and can get control of their lives back in many cases.
Keep in mind that doctors have a habit of limiting people's access to prescription painkillers. Because they are opioid based, a large number of people in recent years have turned to heroin (the king of opioids on the street) after being cut off by their doctors.
How Kratom can save lives
Kratom offers a much safer alternative than turning to heroin. In this regard, Kratom could save a lot of lives.
Most of the news about Kratom is due to the opioid crisis
Opioids are blamed for over 64,000 deaths in 2016 and lead to Donald Trump calling the opioid crisis a public health emergency.
Kratom in the wrong hands
There are those who misuse Kratom though, mixing Kratom with dangerous opioids, or simply ingesting in high amounts. They are the "bad apples" when it comes to the Kratom debate. They are the ones in most cases likely dying or suffering other ill effects. They are the ones that big pharmaceutical companies are likely to hold up and parade on stage when word of a Kratom related casualty is known.
Is Kratom dangerous? Where the FDA stands
As of November 17, 2017 the FDA has issued a public health advisory about the dangers they associate with the dietary supplement Kratom. The alert warns consumers to avoid this supplement altogether or use carefully in consideration of possible addiction effects. They have also instituted an import alert
that permits them to embargo shipments of the herbal substance from outside the USA. They noted an increase of reported overdoses and deaths which involved Kratom.
The Center for Disease Control reports that the number of deaths reported that involved Kratom
reported from 2010 to 2015 is 36, while calls to poison control centers multiplied by tenfold in the period from 26 in 2010 to 263 in 2015.
An important point to notice: Most of these also involved ingestion of other drugs as well. Kratom, by itself, may not have resulted in many calls at all in that case.
The CDC has statistics for 2014 that show 33,594 Americans died as a result of firearms.
The argument goes in support for Kratom that firearms kill a lot of people and yet we don't ban firearms because firearms can have several benefits; for one they can provide a means of self defense in a very dangerous situation; and two, firearms allow people to hunt, some of who supply their families and even charities with large amounts of meat.
With so many people benefiting from Kratom's pain relief, how can we ever ban it?
Is the number of persons dying from Kratom even comparable enough to deserve such attention when viewed with its benefits of pain relief? Is the figure high enough to rate a warning and quarantine of imports?
To date, no alerts or bans have been issued for firearms, automobiles or salt and fatty foods which can lead to heart disease, stroke and heart attack and kill a lot more people annually than Kratom is blamed for currently.
What is Kratom?
Kratom is a substance made from the leaf
of a tree from the coffee family native to Southeast Asia, Mitragyna speciosa korth
. Its use as a stimulant, pain relief and multiple other herbal curatives has continued for millennia. It is, however, not included in the herbs used in Chinese Traditional Medicine.
It has been imported to the USA since the turn of the 21st century and sold as a dietary supplement (not evaluated by the FDA) and as a borderline stimulant of the type found at herbal product vendors, online, truck stops, convenience stores and those which deal with drug paraphernalia (head shops).
Kratom found to relieve effects of drug withdrawal
In recent years since the current opioid crisis, it has been found to relieve the effects of drug withdrawal without the immediate danger of addiction. Its pain relief qualities and mood changing properties have led to concern by the FDA and local public health authorities in a number of States.
The FDA entered the picture after overdose cases were reported and local authorities became concerned about misuse of the supplement. In many cases however, the reactions and deaths were also due to combination of Kratom with other drugs (illegal).
FDA has given an import alert and public health advisory
Two years ago the FDA initiated a ban on the use and sale of the substance but was met with a large degree of resistance from proponents and Congress members. The ban has been replaced by an import alert and public health advisory.
Narconon has expressed concern about the addictive properties of the herb and called for its complete ban. Narconon takes the same zero-tolerance approach as its societal cousin Alcoholics Anonymous, and this approach is not without merit. Addictive personalities will find an addiction of some sort to compensate for their problem whether it is drugs or alcohol.
Side effects from Kratom
At the Narconon link above the organization lists a number of ill effects that people can have from Kratom, though many of these effects might only be happening in a small amount of people who are ingesting high, unsafe levels.
Researchers have commented that the substance shows promise in several areas of health but there is a need for more research. Some recommend use of this herb and others in collaboration with current medical technology. Actual test and experiment results and lacking and inconclusive and the general consensus is that the subject is deserving of serious time and money investment.
Traditional Asian Medicine and the pharmaceutical industry.
Perhaps one of the chief points of conflict in this situation is the dominance of the pharmaceutical industry in the USA's economy. In 2016 the health-related expenditures and investment in health services was over $3 trillion. Pharmaceuticals expend millions annually on lobbying
activities as well.
Pharmaceutical companies have big impact
To be honest, their influence footprint is huge. Herbal medicine has been gaining favor in the West for quite some time and with many proponents. Herbal supplements are a clear danger to the financial situation
enjoyed by the "big pharma" companies as well as the medical profession.
Can the FDA be influenced by lobbyists to turn on Kratom?
Is the FDA prone to political pressure to question herbal medicine versus pharmaceutical? It seems reasonable to assume so.
The Opioid "epidemic": does Kratom contribute to the problem or is its use and role something else?
In late 2015-16 the mass media began to cover the "opioid crisis". Overdose deaths, demands for treatment and the increasing social burden made headlines. Everyone was looking for someone or something to blame. If you watch television regularly you will see ads for prescription drugs.
Many ads for prescription medications have countless side effects
The ads celebrate the effects of these by testimonies from patients. But these commercials end with an intimidating list of side effects whose descriptions sound worse than the condition they are supposed to treat. Yet these are aimed at the general public consumer who in turn is expected to ask their physician about trying them.
Add to this the aggressive sales and marketing to clinics, hospitals and individual physicians and you have a recipe for a crisis such as we now see. In the 1990's drug companies marketed Congress with the idea that pain relief medications could be sold and prescribed with no real danger of addiction.
Doctors wrote huge number of prescriptions for dangerous opioids
They apparently misrepresented the issue and a serious increase in writing prescriptions began. Overprescribing of opioid type medications led to expanded usage and resulting dependence as well as black market sales and theft from homes of patients of medicines.
Pharmacies robbed for opioids
Armed robberies of pharmacies for opioid drugs became daily occurrences as desperate users and drug dealers sought a supply.
Can Kratom reduce the crime rate?
And that creates another possible avenue for Kratom; perhaps Kratom could help reduce crime, especially when so many crimes nowadays are tied to opioid addiction.
Medical field has legitimate concerns
One of the legitimate concerns of the medical field is that those who use Kratom as an aid in treating an opioid addiction are avoiding the necessary monitoring of physical and emotional reactions that occur during the process. Opioid addiction and attempts to withdraw involve serious physical and mental issues that some professionals are best equipped to address.
Oftentimes antisocial behavior and self-destructive activities are the result of the stresses caused by the drug use and withdrawal.
Self-treatment and the anonymous nature of herbal use cause concern for health practitioners. Kratom's growing use as a withdrawal substance has increased their fears about the potential of the substance for abuse.
What's next for Kratom?
Both sides of the issue have raised legitimate points. The FDA has real concerns about the lack of conclusive data about overdoses and deaths, the going use as a "legal high" and its potential as a health threat. The opioid crisis has drawn public attention and is only now seen more intense activity in dealing with it. The lack of concrete data on the plant's uses and documentary proof are legitimate motivation of the public health advisory and import alert (the import alert may be directly tied to counterfeit forms of Kratom that black market criminals are said to be bringing into the U.S. and creating a danger for Kratom users).
Proponents for Kratom -- it's a pain reliever, that simple
Proponents consider the supplement's benefits as a pain reliever, its overall lack of addiction symptoms with proper use and the usual list of health benefits that herbal medicines have.
In contrast to pharmaceutical specific use drugs, herbals usually deal with the entire metabolic system of most people. Health professionals admit that more research is essential to verify claims made by vendors and proponent organizations. So anyone who would consider that is probably taking a wise step. If you currently take medicines like Tylenol or Ibuprofen, and these drugs work, then there is no need for Kratom.
Does Kratom cure psychological pain? Anxiety, loneliness
If your pain is psychological, and not physical -- there also is no need for Kratom (what you are suffering is a spiritual pain and one only cured by God through faith -- you should be praying about that).
But if you are in physical pain, severe pain without any safe ways to treat it, then Kratom may be what gives you the pain relief so you can function in your daily life.
As long as Kratom is available at a local vendor or online, potential purchasers need to make responsible decisions and determine their reasoning for its use. Each of us has an individual metabolic system that can react to any substance ingested.
Avoiding overuse and dependence, purchasing from reputable sources (see: what USP verified and other supplement seals mean) and observing all local and State regulations are important as well. Until more clear definitions of this dietary supplements uses and capabilities are available, "caveat emptor" and due diligence are the key for good health and this supplement's benefits.
Not enough science on Kratom
Since there isn't enough science on Kratom, if you don't need it for pain relief, then don't take it. That's the wisest approach until we know more about it. Here's a few points worth mentioning, and probably a bit of common sense:
1) If you do want the pain relief from Kratom, then be sure to exercise serious moderation -- don't take so much that you feel high, loopy, or lethargic. Be very careful if you have an addictive personality; maybe you shouldn't touch it if that's the case. Then again, a lot of people are addicted to coffee, yet coffee is a mainstay for a lot of people. Some have that belief about Kratom; but who's to say just yet whether or not that's a smart statement.
2) Don't combine Kratom with anything such as alcohol or prescription painkillers. Kratom is said to be both a stimulant and a sedative; it's sedative properties happen in moderate to higher doses. Knowing that it should be obvious to anyone that they are playing with fire when they combine it with alcohol (a depressant) and of course those opioids that are so readily available and in many medicine cabinets across the U.S.
Those are the people most likely to turn up in emergency rooms or even fall asleep and never wake up from combining Kratom with other substances.
Salt, Sugar, Fatty Foods are real health threats -- Kratom probably not so
Of course that's only a small amount of people according to reports. Hundreds of thousands more people will die from eating salty foods, sugary foods, fatty foods -- yet we don't ban these foods.
When it comes to the court of public opinion, Kratom does a lot more good than harm. For now, that's the conclusion of SecretsofSurvival.com. If you believe in prayer, let that be your answer, and at the same time encourage some true scientific studies of Kratom and hopefully we get more answers in the near future on the Kratom debate.
Kratom and preppers
As Kratom is a plant, and a pain reliever, it may end up being an item that preppers start storing away, knowing that if we ever have a societal collapse, Kratom may offer a way to treat people suffering painful injuries in a land with no doctors or hospitals
. For now, there's no limits on how much you can buy, though how long it can be stored when correctly packaged needs to be researched and probably compared to the storage life of other herbs and plant medicine.
Only buy from reputable manufacturers and only buy from reputable distributors. Be wary of any product that calls itself Kratom, knowing that many counterfeit products can contain a lot more than just true Kratom. Those counterfeit products can be extremely dangerous. You never know what they contain.
Final word on Kratom
If you've decided you're going to try Kratom for pain relief, please don't take this article as an encouragement to do so. What we've tried to do here is just present the facts as we have found them through our research and our publisher's own experience with Kratom for ulcer pain relief. In the end, science may discover that Kratom isn't a good idea for society at large. Or it might discover otherwise, that Kratom is "good" for modern society overall.
We just don't know yet.
Update: the Debate Renewed
has initiated seizures and surrenders of Kratom shipments and updated the number of deaths attributed to the herbal supplements' use. The media emphasis on the opioid "epidemic" has renewed the ongoing debate as to the herb's most popular uses: pain control as it mimics some opioid qualities and as a substitute for those with addiction issues for which they prefer not to seek professional assistance. Coincidentally, the CDC
issued a warning about a rare form of salmonella that has been connected with some Kratom shipments.
The FDA has also attributed 44 deaths from Kratom associated situations. These include overdoses, use with other drugs and various other circumstances. To anyone's sense of perspective this number seems minimal. The American Association of Poison Control Centers attributes 59 deaths per year on average to aspirin overdose and researchers have pointed to 7600 deaths from NSAID pain relievers.
What is the Government's role in the "opioid crisis" and does Kratom interfere with its goals to combat this epidemic that costs a fortune in treatment and productivity? In response to the opioid crisis, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is focusing its efforts on five chief priorities:
Increasing the public's access to funded treatment and recovery services
Actively promoting overdose-reversing drugs
Better public health records keeping and surveillance
Funding support for research on reducing pain and addiction
Improving techniques and practices for pain management
The private and self-diagnosed treatment use of Kratom causes problems for the CDC and other agencies since it denies them access to the actual number of opioid addicted persons and conflicts with budget and treatment programs. In some cases where the herb is used as an opioid substitute it further complicates the ongoing addiction problem as well.
As America's health issues with pain killer medications continue, it remains to be seen if Kratom will be viewed as hero or villain in this ongoing health emergency.