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Kratom …

Kratom Tree Wikimedia Commons

Kratom Tree Wikimedia Commons

By Larry Plesent

Kratom is in the news this month as the DEA announced its push for the tropical tree to join heroin, LSD, MDMA and marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. No prescription may be written for Schedule 1 drugs, nor may clinical trials be run to determine potential health or treatment benefits. Schedule 1 status essentially means that there is no socially redeeming value to a plant or molecule, so there is no point in studying its effects on human beings.

Kratom or Mitragyna speciose is a plant found in Thailand, Indonesia and other places with tropical Asian ecosystems. Kratom contains several chemicals that bind with opiate receptors in the brain. Its effect is somewhat similar to opioids but with allegedly fewer side effects. Kratom has a long history of use in controlling pain (in traditional Asian medicine) and is sometimes used in the West as a self-help management scheme for people attempting to wean themselves off of more powerful opiate based drugs. And yes, regular Kratom use can lead to addiction.

The threat of lifelong opiate addiction, though a huge deterrent for most; has not curbed the epidemic of opioid use in the United States. Closing the door on a species of plant- that has the potential to treat opiate addiction seems at minimum to be dangerous and short-sighted. Caving in to rich and powerful pharmaceutical companies who enjoy a monopoly on the treatment of millions of opiate addicted citizens may be business as usual in Washington, but also as usual, real people living real lives must bear the brunt of the foolishness of our selected and elected big money influenced government officials.

Methadone, a synthetic opiate, is the drug of choice in the U.S. as a treatment for plant based opiate addiction. It is considered by some drug treatment experts (who asked not to be named in this article) as being significantly more addictive than heroin. It is strange beyond belief that a potential source for powerful new drugs and drug addiction treatment has been eliminated without a single clinical trial. To see scientific studies on Kratom from around the world go to

This is the Soapman reminding you that botany is NOT a crime (except when it is). Let’s put the science back into medicine by ending the Schedule 1 designation altogether and allowing clinical trials for powerful plant substances.

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