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Experts' Press Release
Media Contact: Robert Engle, 703/347-3784
Experts Speak Out on Benefits of Kratom: Why it Would be a Mistake to Ban It
The Botanical Legal Defense (BLD), an educational and advocacy group focused on promoting and protecting the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of natural plants and herbal supplements, is concerned that Kratom is, at times, misrepresented as dangerous and without medical value. Kratom, a 100 percent natural plant and herbal supplement from Southeast Asia, has been used safely for hundreds of years as a natural analgesic, muscle relaxer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and opioid withdrawal treatment.
Some have miscategorized Kratom, lumping it into the same category as “synthetics,” “research chemicals” and “designer drugs.” However, Kratom is a plant, not a synthetic chemical or “street drug.” Valuable dietary supplements and medicines can be derived from Kratom. Many peer reviewed studies and clinical trials attest to the medical potential of this plant. Indeed, here are supportive comments from leading experts in and proponents of Kratom:
Ryan Estevez, MD, PhD, MPH, a psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist in the Tampa area who has worked for years in emergency rooms, community health centers, and prisons, says: “I am well versed in both ‘good’ drugs that help people on a daily basis, and ‘bad’ drugs that are epidemically abused and create a tremendous burden on society. Kratom is [a natural herbal supplement] and not one of these “bad” drugs (I have yet to admit anyone for kratom-addiction) and efforts to ban it are misguided and wasteful. Grieving parents, well intentioned policy makers, and opportunist politicians often seize on opportunities to assign blame and then offer a ‘quick fix.’ The proposal of an absolute ban of Kratom perfectly illustrates what can happen when hype trumps science, as this plant has been benefiting millions of people for decades of time. I have been troubled by an increase in news reports and misinformation that has been disseminated about the ‘dangerous’ and ‘addictive drug’ Kratom. Even worse is the subsequent careless and knee-jerk response by many legislators and policy makers to ban Kratom. I believe much of the negative publicity surrounding Kratom to be the result of being incorrectly lumped in with synthetically derived mind-altering substances such as ‘spice” and bath-salts, substances that deserve their reputations for being dangerous and harmful.
Phil Schoenwetter, MD, Family Practitioner in Southern California since 1980, commented: "My first encounter with Kratom was stunning and unexpected. Janet, my wife of 35 years, suffers from migraines and last year had a breakthrough episode that normally would require strong pharmaceutical treatment. While fueling our SUV at a Chevron station in Nevada, Janet went to the food mart and noted a lady requesting her daily eight capsule packet of Kratom. The kind lady said it helped with her midlife aches and pains and no other adverse side effects. Janet purchased the same packet and took one capsule. Although a licensed physician in several states since 1978, I had not even encountered the word ‘Kratom.’ Some 60 miles down the road Janet announced she was OK, pain free, clear of thought, (not "loaded" as with morphine) and ready to take the wheel, which she did flawlessly for some 165 miles. This was the clarion call to wake up, smell the coffee (another botanical) and delve more deeply into natural agents and understand mechanisms of action and implement in my family medicine practice. Adverse events are infrequent and when occurring are minimal, transient, and most often is light heartburn lasting a few hours. Kratom already is a ‘must have’ adjunct to numerous long term conditions and its role in my practice already exceeds the ‘usual and customary’ uses that one normally will find referenced in literature found on the internet."
According to Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association: “The FDA [last year targeted] Kratom and frankly I don’t think it’s going to stick. There is a lot of information that is known about Kratom’s use historically and traditionally in a dosage level that has a benefit and it is not about getting high or not about addictive potential. There are companies [and associations] devoted to...a credible standing for Kratom....and looking at the science of Kratom and not the hyper telling of the dangers of this ‘mysterious’ herb.”
About Botanical Legal Defense: Botanical Legal Defense™ is dedicated to fighting overreaching government criminalization of nature’s most significant gifts. Chief among these is Mitragyna speciosa (aka Kratom), a natural analgesic, muscle relaxer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. This herbal supplement from Southeast Asia has been widely misrepresented as dangerous and without medical value, when the truth is that it has already been under the scrutiny of the scientific community and found to be not only benign, but highly therapeutic. Our mission is to educate and enlighten lawmakers, law enforcement, consumers, medical personnel and the media to the plant’s benefits. BLD strives to direct effective policy change,and protect the rights of adults to have access to safe and effective herbal products. For more information, visit: botanicallegaldefense.org