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States ban kratom supplement over abuse worries

 Associated Press
May 20, 2016
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A little-known plant-based substance often sold as an herbal supplement to address chronic pain is raising alarm bells in states concerned that it could be as addictive as heroin.

The controversy around kratom — a plant originating in Southeast Asia — has led Alabama join Indiana and four other U.S. states that ban it. Kratom is now a Schedule 1 drug in Alabama, the same classification as heroin and ecstasy.

Indiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin have also banned the botanical supplement, and more states are considering the same course. The federal government, too, has worries about kratom.

The Drug Enforcement Administration designates kratom as a "drug of concern" — meaning that, although it is still technically legal, it poses risks if abused. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists kratom as an herbal supplement, which means it is not regulated as vigorously as pharmaceuticals before it reaches consumers. The FDA warns of a range of side effects from vomiting to aggression and hallucinations.

Yet the drug’s popularity is indisputable, and its advocates staunchly insist kratom is nothing more than a natural analgesic that can be safely used to alleviate pain, combat fatigue and reduce depression and anxiety.

“Naturally occurring Kratom is a safe herbal supplement that’s more akin to tea and coffee than any other substances,” the American Kratom Association says on its website.

Kelly Devine, an Alabama native who founded the group Kratom United, says some of the kratom products sold may be mixed with unhealthy additives but the plant itself is a natural pain reliever.

“We're not seeking drugs, we're seeking relief,” Devine said.

Kratom grows naturally in Thailand, Malaysia, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia and was traditionally chewed or boiled into tea by workers in that region of the world to boost productivity because kratom at low doses can act like a stimulant.

At higher doses, kratom yields a sedative and pain-relief effect. Experts say two properties in the plant —mitragynine and hydromitragynine— bind to the same brain receptors as classic opioids like hydrocodone, though kratom is less potent.

Oliver Grundmann, clinical associate professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Florida School of Pharmacy, said opioid addicts could get relief from kratom, because the same brain receptors are affected. In a 2013 University of Mississippi study, researchers found that mitragynine “blocked all withdrawal symptoms” in methadone-addicted mice that were fed kratom leaves.

Researchers have seen heroin users cycle to kratom, but Grundmann says addicts are known to begin reusing heroin as the body develops a tolerance to kratom.

Shortly after the law making kratom sales and possession illegal in Alabama took effect May 10, products like brightly colored “Krazy Kratom” bottles were being pulled from the shelves of retailers — gas stations and head shops in particular.

Barry Matson, chairman of the Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force, doesn’t want to stand in the way of anybody getting medication that helps them but doesn’t think solutions can be found in a gas station product.

“We don’t need this on shelves if it’s powerful enough to replace (heroin) for some people.”

Though Matson said there are cases in Alabama of deaths and injuries involving kratom, Grundmann says he’s seen no evidence to indicate kratom was the “sole contributing drug” to an overdose death in the U.S. However, research is so limited that experts aren’t sure how other compounds in the plant interact with other substances.

“We’re always trying to catch up behind the latest trends,” Grundmann said. “There are so many different drugs, so many different ways to abuse drugs that we don't initially think about.”

 

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  • Kratom not to bann
    Kratom more or less saved my life (definitely the positive aspects of it's current form) when I was falling into a depression-driven vortex of alcoholism and experimentation with self-medication by all kinds of crazy unstudied pharmaceuticals (nootropics etc...phenibut is the WORST, basically a legal benzo that's MORE potent than the common illegal ones) in order to combat said depression and still remain socially functional. At one point I was taking something like 50 supplements a day as well as drinking almost every night of the week and just kept getting worse. After a few nightmarish weeks kicking all that stuff, I was left with kratom and a few simple nutritionals like multivitamins and high-quality fish oil, and I've been getting better and better ever since I stuck with that routine. For more information: Kratom

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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