Friday, April 1, 2016

What You Should Know About Kratom

We present our first blog from Jasper Black:

What is kratom?

The first thing that should be noted is that it is not synthetic. It is a plant native to Southeast Asia. It is also not akin to spice. The compounds in spice (JWH250 for instance) are full agonists. Cannabis itself is a partial agonist. Kratom has no affect on the indocannabanoid system whatsoever. It targets opioid receptors, and causes naturally occurring opioid peptides to be released. It binds to Mu receptors and is a partial 5HTA blocker.

Now for my story. I put down opiates back in 2009. In 2010, I had a shoulder injury for which I was prescribed tramadol. The tramadol kicked in those old cravings just like I had never stopped using. I looked for an alternative and discovered Kratom. I ordered myself some and brewed it into tea. It took care of my cravings, helped not only my shoulder pain but also helped the occasional pain I had from the injury leading me to opioid abuse in the first place--a 50% compression fracture on my l4.

Since 2010, I have drunk kratom. I’ve been a member of large online communities that discuss and search information on kratom. Let’s discuss the merits of kratom and where it’s gone wrong in the eyes of legislators.

Kratom is used for its analgesia, its ability to stave opioid withdrawal, and its ability to help people come off opioids, be it from prescription or other abuse. Kratom does have effects, but very mild ones.

While law makers are calling it a substitute for heroin, it is not. Kratom to heroin is like Coca Cola to Ice. It’s not a replacement, it’s not a substitute, and it’s not even comparable. It can help an addict stave withdrawal symptoms. It can help a recovered addict maintain and stay away from hard opioid drugs.

Steadily, over the past year or so, it’s popped up in service stations, but it’s really nothing new. It’s been sold here since 2010 at least. Many companies are producing kratom shots. It should be noted that these shots are not just kratom. FDA rules on herbal supplements require a listing of ingredients in descending order from greatest to least and often kratom is low on the list. These shots are packed full of herb extracts, caffeine, sugars, and some even have synthetic chemicals.

Viva Zen became the most popular. It contains a blend of extracted herbal compounds known for sedative effects, tossed in stimulating herbs, followed by an extract of kratom. During its height of popularity, it used a really insidious chemical called phenibut--the newest answer to GHB prohibition. Body builders are always looking for a GHB alternative and phenibut has that mechanism of action. It’s highly addictive and causes withdrawal symptoms similar to benzodiazepines.

Viva Zen, formerly known as Vico Zen (it’s been sold here since 2010 at least) caved to the pressure of the FDA and removed kratom from its list of ingredients. It’s now back with kratom but not selling like hot cakes as it did previously.

The merits of kratom? It has no known toxicity. The death it was associated with was a person who had consumed a very, very dangerous stack of Xanax and alcohol.

Kratom gives people the ability to come off their prescription opioid and treat their pain with a less harmful alterntive. Those who have been abusing drugs are able to skip the dope house and buy a safe product, thereby taking money out of the hands of drug cartels, drug dealers, and terrorists. It helps support local businesses and puts tax revenue into the coffers of the state, city, and county.

Those looking to abuse drugs are going to abuse drugs. Kratom is not luring teenagers in. They are already looking, and it’s better they get their hands on a natural plant than a laboratory made substance that has resulted in countless deaths.

Children should not be using kratom, just as they should not be consuming alcohol. Legislators have shown no evidence that this plant is harmful to society, and studies from Johns Hopkins school of medicine have shown it to be consistent with the claims of the communities of people who have turned to it.

These legislators want to outlaw a plant, thereby turning many people back to costly doctors and even dope houses. People will die because of this legislation. We have advocacy groups fighting this: Alabama Kratom United, the Alabama Kratom Association, Botanical Legal Defense, and United States Kratom United. We have lobbyists in Montgomery right now. That is how much we know and believe in this plant. Check out our advocacy groups, then make up your own mind.

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