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In the United States, the fight against opioid drugs has become a major issue. While the authorities are looking for a way to stop the avalanche of overdose deaths, Indonesia is finding a controversial way to help by providing Americans with a herbal analgesic, Kratom.
Millions of Americans suffering from addiction are finally finding relief through the use of herbal supplements, marketed under the name of the plant’s remedies. To get rid of “withdrawal,” some decide to use marijuana. But it is still not available in all states, even for medical purposes, much less for legalization just for pleasure. Moreover, on the federal level, marijuana is still illegal. And that’s where the practically legal Kratom comes in to help citizens.
What is It?
It’s a tree from tropical Asia. According to local farmers, chewing herbal supplements can enhance mood and provide a burst of energy, similar to the stimulating effects of caffeine.
Kratom, a natural alternative to synthetic painkillers, is known to produce feelings of euphoria in high doses. It has been effective in alleviating chronic pain and managing withdrawal symptoms, making it a popular choice for those seeking to quit opioids or heroin. The dried leaves can be steeped to make tea, while the powder can be mixed with water or a smoothie and consumed in capsule form. The effects of white maeng da kratom typically kick in within an hour and persist for two to four hours. Smoking is the least common method of consumption and generally leads to subpar results.
Over the past decade, Kratom has spread to the U.S. In contrast to the sales of solid drugs, which cause addiction and dependence, it is freely available in 44 states. It can be ordered online in a few clicks or bought in a smoking supply store. The “herbal supplement” can also be found in private supermarkets. Not only is it easy to find, but it’s also reasonably cheap: 30 grams is about $15, and this amount is enough for at least 20 receipts.
According to surveys, the primary consumers:
- Working people (72 percent) and educated people (82). White people (89);
- more than 50 percent are between the ages of 31 and 50;
- 47 percent make at least $75,000 a year.
However, children sometimes use it as well, which is expectedly worrying for their parents.
Most of the Kratom Consumed by Americans Comes from Indonesia
According to the head of a company that manufactures and exports kratom goods, the rubber helped Pontianak residents pay school fees and have food in the house, but Kratom allowed them to buy motorcycles and cars. As a result, the kratom business has thrived in recent years.
An Unexplored Growing Object
Since 1994, all that has been required to sell dietary supplements (the positioning of preparations made from this plant) to Americans is to prove that the new products or ingredients are safe enough. FDA then conducts a 75-day inspection, which is much less stringent than for drug manufacturers.
And if the agency finds any problem, the supplement can be banned. But many manufacturers skip this part, hoping no one will notice a problem. This was also the case with Kratom: despite importing tons of leaves into the U.S., people have yet to contact the FDA. It was imported under the guise of incense and cosmetics, and on websites, sellers wrote “not for use,” even if everything else said otherwise.
Authorities ignored Kratom until 2013 when three associations representing manufacturers and retailers of dietary supplements wrote a joint letter to the then-head of the FDA. They were concerned: Kratom had not been certified, but step by step, it had flooded the market, not only threatening the health of consumers but also taking away a decent chunk of revenue.
As a result, the FDA recognized kratom leaf preparations as a supplement and an unapproved drug. A few months later, the FDA issued a warning: there were concerns about kratom toxicity, and shipments arriving at the border should be detained and seized.
In 2016, the DEA announced a ban on Kratom. The agency decided to list it as the most dangerous drug, not even used for medical purposes. However, a month and a half later, the issue was just as suddenly removed from the agenda.
In 2017, the FDA took up Kratom again. And as retailers attribute more and more medicinal properties to the plant and continue to sell it, the FDA periodically sends warning letters to retailers.
What Does the Research Say?
At the same time, Kratom researchers say that while its effects are similar to those of opioids like heroin, they are different. The plant’s active ingredients, the alkaloids mitragynine, and 7-hydroxy mitragynine affect mu-receptors, suppressing pain.
But the main difference is that Kratom does not affect the neural pathways associated with respiration. In opioid overdose, a respiratory arrest is the leading cause of death, but in the case, this is considered unlikely. However, it is worth noting that preparations from this plant are not advised to mix with stimulants and alcohol.
Defenders of the plant point out that in all of the cases cited by the office, it is impossible to attribute what happened solely to the used products. Yes, mitragynine was found in the blood of those who died. Still, many who died were mixing several different substances (as many as nine), some were also abusing alcohol, and one died from a gunshot wound.
Advocates have proven that addiction to Kratom is no more harmful than tea or coffee, and withdrawal is similar to withdrawal from caffeine, tobacco, and antidepressants. “Consumers may begin to rely on Kratom by using it daily, but it’s not the same as an addiction. Many people need a cup of coffee in the morning to wake up,” they believe. It is pointed out, however, that increasing the dose does not make its effects stronger, which also does not contribute to an opium-like epidemic.
In any case, in recent years, the opposition has reached a new level: Kratom has become known at the very top, and now the benefits of the plant are no longer defended in the streets but in front of state legislators and members of Congress. Sometimes it is possible, if not to convince the deputies, then at least to soften their position.
For example, the state of Michigan began to promote a more compromised version of the bill in the region. The new document proposes to prohibit the sale of products from this plant to citizens under 18, to prohibit mixing Kratom with other substances, and to allow the sale only in natural, unmodified form in laboratories.
If such measures are promoted locally and federally, it would almost be a victory for kratom supporters.
What is the Secret of Kratom’s Popularity?
People have always valued medicinal substances that could enhance health, improve well-being and give vitality. One such product is Kratom because its beneficial effects on the body have been known for a very long time. Among the most important results of the substance on the human body are:
- improvement of the immune system;
- elimination of depressive moods;
- normalization of digestive processes and improve metabolism;
- progress of perspective, the appearance of strength, and vitality;
- pain relief of natural origin;
- calming and relaxation;
- reduction of fatigue and increase in concentration.
The beneficial effects of this substance are appreciated all over the world. Still, it is vital in the U.S. to try Kratom’s power and see its beneficial properties for yourself.