The Truth About Kratom and its Effects

Other research demonstrates that even patients using kratom in an effort to break themselves of the opioid addiction face potential medical issues.
“We must have the courage to find a compromise solution that gives us reasonable safety and reasonable access.  I haven’t heard much assistance from entrenched parties to get a compromise and that means to me either way, innocent men and women are going to get hurt,” White added.
Others, such as Kirk L. Cumpston, DO, FACEP, FACMT, of the department of emergency medicine at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical Center and co-author of the analysis that looked at the calls to the regional poison center, also noted that the clinical limbo that insufficient research on kratom presents.
“We do not have a timetable to share on when a scheduling decision is going to be made,” the official added.  “DEA continues to consider kratom to become dangerous and harmful and has included kratom on its list of medications of concern because 2011.  The two mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitraginine are substances with opioid consequences whose use may result in serious negative outcomes and accordingly, DEA would advise anyone against using this particular substance because of its psychoactive properties”

What You Need to Know About Kratom

A FDA official told Healio Family Medicine established scientific and federal processes mean the door hasn’t completely closed on kratom usage.

The latter of these problems culminated in the historical development of April 3, when the FDA issued a mandatory recall for all food items containing powdered kratom manufactured, processed, packaged, or held by Triangle Pharmanaturals LLC.  The agency said it had been the first-ever mandatory recall because a firm failed to comply with the bureau’s request to perform a voluntary recall. Another scientist who questions that the FDA’s approach to its classification is Walter C. Prozialeck, PhD, professor and chair of the department of pharmacology, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University, who advised Healio Family Medicine he has a issue with what the FDA calls its”solid science,” and compared it to”a game of semantics.” According to Boyer, during the patient’s attention after the tonic-clonic seizure, a doctor noticed that rhinorrhea, insomnia, poor concentration, constricted influence and myalgias lasted for 10 days after the patient’s last kratom dose.  The substance has been touted as an alternative approach to pain control.
“Bearing this in mind, our results suggest that a user of some of the merchandise purchased for the present study will be unlikely to greatly damage themselves,” Griffin and colleagues wrote. A case report in a 2008 issue of Addiction authored by Edward W. Boyer, MD, of the division of medical toxicology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and colleagues, detailed the way the 43-year-old guy admitted for evaluation of a tonic-clonic transplant who’d also said he’d inject 10 mg hydromorphone a day from crushed pills subcutaneously to successfully handle the pain brought on by his thoracic outlet syndrome.  When that treatment wasn’t available, these authors wrote, he handled opioid withdrawal using kratom bought from internet vendors, finally spending $15,000 annually on the material.

The Lousy 

Prozialeck published another paper in the same journal in 2016, which included what he called the”most controversial development” involving the publishing of both papers: the DEA’s statement in December 2016 of its intention to make kratom a Schedule 1 controlled substance.  In so doing, kratom could be set in the exact same class as substances like marijuana, LSD and heroin.  However, The Washington Post reported that the DEA afforded to protests from the general public and lawmakers and withdrew the strategy.
For its’ part, a DEA spokesperson acknowledged the”continuing debate over the scientific community” on kratom in a meeting using Healio Family Medicine and noted that its own evaluation of kratom remains continuing.
Kratom’s advocates cite those who use it to treat opioid use disorder, the outbreak that the CDC has said claims an estimated 115 resides a day and can be  responsible for 30 percent of overdoses in EDs throughout the country.

Kratom and its Effects

“At a time once we have hit a critical point from the opioid epidemic, the rising use of kratom as an alternative or adjunct to opioid use is very concerning,” he explained in a November statement, citing 36 deaths and a 10-fold increase in calls to the nation’s poison control centres from 2010 to 2015 that were connected to kratom-containing goods.
“As a social scientist that I can only summarize the existing data.  I see no fantastic evidence that kratom is’deadly’ and the overall data imply that kratom is a comparatively mild plant that is helping people… and is an important tool for fighting the opioid problem.   It’s crazy to restrict access based on what we know at the moment.” “Kratom is a unique medication with opioid and nonopioid mechanisms of activity and in animal research has a minimal risk of stopping breathing, the most important mechanism of death for other opioids.  There needs to be a middle road which enables kratom to be accessible while the serious research that must be done can be completed.  Access ought to be restricted for recreational use and also to kids but allowed for chronic pain and opioid addicted people.  Pending those study results, the availability is maintained, eased, or diminished,” he advised Healio Family Medicine.  

“There’s overwhelming anecdotal evidence from humans that something in kratom can alleviate pain, can curb symptoms of opioid withdrawals.  Though these are just anecdotal, it is difficult to dismiss that volume of information.  Secondly, there are animal studies that show the compounds isolated from kratom can relieve pain and the signs of opioid withdrawal.  Those studies, despite the fact that there are not lots of them, should not be completely disregarded.”
“We now have unfettered access to a product with addiction possible, an unknown safety profile, and potential for serious drug interactions (including access to kids ).  This is insanity.   “Only the number of deaths the DEA is attributing to kratom — 44 deaths in 5 years — appears disproportionate.  Each one of those kratom deaths had other factors like existing diseases or conditions like CVD, epilepsy effects, or several drug use such as alcohol and stimulants.  To me, kratom just doesn’t look as dangerous as the DEA is saying,” he said.

Griffin added he wasn’t in favor of putting kratom in Schedule 1, saying that doing so would effectively endings research to the material. He and his colleagues found each one of the products contained the stimulant mitragynine in their label, but the narcotic 7-hydroxymitraginine wasn’t found.  However, these authors also pointed out that the previous studies have shown the small quantities of the chemical in kratom can make it difficult to recognize. Prozialeck was among the very first to recognize that curiosity about kratom was growing.   The article also provided an overview of use for the material such as fatigue, diarrhea and cough.  In addition, he provided information about its legal status and additional possible medical applications of kratom including fighting fatigue and managing coughs.
“But, remember that those that are on kratom cannot fall off the wagon and use other opioids due to the drug interaction potential.  So recommend the lowest dose of kratom you can and use it as quickly as possible,” he added. The Fantastic  FDA and DEA’s stances retain more patients and medical professionals from visiting kratom’s potential, Prozialeck added.

Based on Chabner, who reported on the case in The Oncologist, the 23-year-old guy had obtained 85 g of a powdered form of kratom for 6 weeks.  The patient underwent dark urine, painless jaundice and light stools for 4 days, 1 week later he stopped using the substance.  A few other instances of liver toxicity because of kratom have been reported.
While kratom was touted by some as an alternate approach to pain management, others say merchandise made of kratom are contaminated with salmonella.  Photo Source:Shutterstock “To date, the FDA is not aware of any evidence of safety establishing that kratom (or any compounds derived from kratom) will undoubtedly be expected to be protected as a dietary ingredient,” the FDA stated in a press release. “There are 3 FDA-approved products [buprenorphine, methadone, naltrexone] which are safe and effective for treating opioid use disorder and we encourage patients to seek guidance from their health care professional and pursue therapy for dependence,” the spokesperson said in the interview.
 He is presently a consultant to the American Kratom Association and’d previously provided pro bono support to the same group in their attempts to prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration from banning kratom.  Henningfield also worked on dietary supplement alerts for kratom products in an attempt to get FDA to regulate kratom as a dietary supplement. “The FDA and DEA obtained over 20,000 reviews in 2016 independently from a cross-section of America that stated kratom is working for them,” Henningfield stated in a meeting.  “Four different surveys demonstrate that a percentage of respondents use kratom to stop using opioids.”
The CDC has also expressed concerns about kratom, advising it not be consumed in any kind on account of the substance being the”probable source” of at least 132 cases of salmonella across 38 countries.

Why Kratom Matters

CDC researchers looked at calls made to poison centers nationwide and decided that 660 were made from January 2010 to December 2015.  “Isolated” kratom vulnerability was linked to 428 of those calls, with the others reporting the kratom was combined with acetaminophen, benzodiazepines, other botanicals, and narcotics.  The report, which appeared in MMWR,”  also suggested that 49 of these calls were connected to individuals who had resulted in life threatening symptoms or signs and a single person who took kratom together with paroxetine and lamotrigine expired.   The discussion about kratom grew louder before this year, when Gottlieb declared on Feb. 6 that a computational version produced”stronger evidence of kratom chemicals’ opioid properties”

“The FDA and DEA want to replace this poor paradigm using a comprehensive ban.  This is also dangerous because it denies a therapy that a lot of men and women are using for opioid maintenance therapy or chronic pain which they rely on to which they are addicted.  Which makes it illegal or shutting off the legal supply by forcing recalls will induce some law abiding citizens to use illegally smuggled kratom or even worse, use heroin or illegal fentanyl.”

Swogger also commented on the FDA’s announcements on kratom.

“Additionally, the FDA is taking new steps to bring new, secure and powerful, FDA-approved therapies to the market for treatment of opioid use disorder.  We understand that patients experiencing opioid addiction need access to effective treatment options.  Developing an efficient pathway to the growth of those treatments is a very high priority for both Commissioner Gottlieb.” “The problem isn’t whether kratom is good or bad, but that it is an unregulated, unresearched, herbal chemical.  We do not really know if it’s successful or about its own side effects like we know about drugs which are FDA-approved,” he told Healio Family Medicine.  “Because of this knowledge gap, people are exposing themselves to risk when seeking to self-treat with kratom.” “I saw a patient with quite abnormal liver work that had been carrying kratom to deal with the stress out of his law school tests and had quite serious liver injury because of this,” Bruce Chabner, MD, clinical manager emeritus and professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, told Healio Family Medicine.   “This patient recovered, thank goodness, but it might have been devastating.” Kratom has been linked with withdrawal syndrome, but Swogger said that this is generally only found in people who take doses of more than 5 grams, and 21 doses a week. FDA, DEA respond Gottlieb’s comments alluded to this alarm the FDA sounded nicely ahead of the April 3 announcement.
Additional clinicians and professionals who have researched kratom advised Healio Family Medicine the polar opposite views being expressed from the discussion pose their own set of dangers to individuals, and that a common ground must be found.

The FDA spokesperson said patients needing treatment for opioid use disorder already have viable legal options, and much more such therapies could be forthcoming.
He advised Healio Family Medicine FDA regulation on kratom is”vital” and that regulation of the substance as a nutritional supplement proved to be a viable approach to maintain kratom available with some regulatory oversite. The possibly 
  He acknowledged in an interview that kratom research remains in its infancy, however, stated he believes there are lots of advantages surrounding its use. “Additionally, kratom should not be used to deal with any health conditions, nor should it be utilized as a substitute for prescription opioids.  There are no FDA-approved therapeutic uses of kratom and significantly, the FDA has evidence to show that there are significant safety problems associated with its use,” the FDA added.
 The DEA has endorsed for now, but I Don’t know just how long the FDA will,” O. Hayden Griffin, III, PhD, JD, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, informed Healio Family Medicine.  
A few weeks later, he declared that a high number of kratom-containing dietary chemicals were recalled by a Missouri-based maker and destroyed.  He encouraged other companies who create products with kratom to eliminate them from the market and have them go through the FDA regulatory process.  The agency has also accused a California-based company that generates kratom products of making”misleading statements about its compliance with all FDA regulations.” “People need to speak with their healthcare provider prior to taking any supplement, particularly if they are in a bunch more likely to acquire a serious Salmonella disease,” the bureau said.

“It’s the wild west out there when it comes to some kinds of kratom and kratom-related products.  There’s a lack of standardization and quality control surrounding the production these items.  Individuals who buy kratom, and what is reported to be kratom, do not always know what they are getting.  “If you have a patient who is going to insist on taking kratom, advise the individual to be careful and use a respectable brand,” he said.   — from Janel Miller “When a patient is using or wants to use kratom, suppliers will need to educate them about the risks and advantages, exactly like any other herbal product.  In my view, the combo of FDA-approved drugs to treat addiction and treatment from dependence experts is known to be safe and effective, so kratom consumers are taking unnecessary risks.”
White said that despite the benefits of kratom, there are many things to be considered before indicating it .
Prozialeck agreed with a lot of Griffin’s remarks, saying it’s difficult for him to concur with the DEA’s proposal.

“This illness is uncomfortable and considerably affects disposition, but it is not generally harmful and is light relative to classical opioid withdrawal” Advice for patients Besides the potential for infectious agents in the commercial chemical, the entity itself might have severe organ toxicities.
 When it is for recreational use I’d advise against it because the advantages are extremely low and the risks are not well recognized but preliminary evidence suggests it could be serious injury or death,” he advised Healio Family Medicine.  
“For the FDA to deny individuals the chance to use kratom in spite of the evidence is flat out ignoring the reality and very frightening.  Whenever someone comes with a lifeline from dependence, whether it’s an approved treatment or not, if it is working you do not take it away, because in the event that you do, then the probability of slipping back into addiction starts around again,” he continued.  “If someone fell into the lake using a life preserver and said they could not swim, are you really going to take their life preserver?” Jack Henningfield “While we remain open to the possible medicinal applications of kratom, these applications have to be backed by solid science and weighed appropriately against the possibility of abuse.  They must be put through a correct evaluative process that entails the DEA and the FDA.  For people who believe in the proposed medicinal applications of kratom, the agency promotes research which will help us understand kratom’s danger and benefit profile, to ensure well researched and possibly beneficial products could be considered,” a FDA spokesperson said. Others out the FDA raised concerns with the way that agency has tried to restrict access to kratom. Primary care providers must assist their patients make educated decisions in regards to kratom, Cumpston stated, and even then, might want to encourage individuals to think twice about recommending it, especially when it has to do with opioid addiction.
Griffin, the associate professor of criminal justice, co-authored a study that was printed in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs that conducted laboratory tests on 15 distinct products that were advertised online as kratom or came up when the expression’kratom’ has been hunted.
“Kratom has operated in a grey area of the law and because there are no regulations for vendors of this drug, it is tough to tell which vendors of kratom are reliable and which are not.  That’s the actual difficulty,” he continued.  “There’s proof that kratom is effective, but there are no companies lining up to go through the approval process because not only is it expensive, but how can you promote and patent a naturally growing plant that’s been around for hundreds or even thousands of years?”

More About Kratom

“What is important to remember is there aren’t any scientific data from research of kratom in people.  Kratom shouldn’t be used to deal with any medical conditions, nor should it be utilized as a substitute for prescription opioids,” the official continued.  “There are currently no FDA-approved therapeutic applications of kratom and significantly, the FDA has evidence to show that there are significant safety issues related to its usage.  Before it could be lawfully marketed for therapeutic applications in the U.S., kratom’s dangers and benefits have to be assessed as part of this regulatory procedure for medication established by Congress.” “Kratom is not a well-studied chemical and it is thus harmful to take,” Chabner said.  “If patients buy it directly off the shelf, there is no guarantee it is going to be safe.”

“If the individual wants to choose kratom for chronic pain find out what other medications he or she has previously tried before and what kind of pain they have.  If a person has had poor experiences with prescription opioids prior to and its either opioids or kratom as treatment options, then I would bring kratom into the conversation.”
“From a scientific standpoint, these announcements make little sense unless one is attempting to conjure hysteria.  The version that the FDA has employed to call kratom an opioid was greatly praised by leading scientists,” he advised Healio Family Medicine.   White wrote a newspaper that appeared from the American Journal of Health System Pharmacy that underscored the need for more study on kratom, stating the existing clinical, pharmacokinetic, and pharmacologic data is insufficient. Despite his skepticism concerning the FDA’s strategy to kratom and lack of clear evidence of its potential for injury, Prozialeck said he wouldn’t encourage primary care doctors to urge kratom to their patients.  I’m not sure this is a correct premise.  By way of instance, Narcan, that is used as a treatment for opioid poisoning binds to opioid receptors, but nobody calls Narcan an opioid.”

But some have indicated it shares many of the harmful effects associated with opioid use and that some goods made from kratom are infected with salmonella.

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