Kratom For Addiction
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Research shows that traditional use of kratom has therapeutic potential, or at least that it is used by people seeking improved health and well-being. In considering the uses of kratom, in this commentary we distinguish traditional use from “therapeutic use”, which in the United States and many countries is defined by whether a substance or white kratom product has been officially approved by a regulatory authority such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), typically with reliance upon randomized controlled clinical trials for new drugs. We recognize that kratom remedies have not yet met standards for therapeutic use claims and has not been approved in the US for “therapeutic use”, despite the widespread and growing use of kratom as a self-treatment for a number of disorders, including pain, OUD, and depression or anxiety . Rather, it is currently marketed and regulated in the US as a food and/or dietary ingredient that is not subject to the same strict regulations that are used for approval of new drugs. Since natural kratom has not been approved for therapeutic use in the U.S, it cannot legally be advertised as a remedy for any medical condition.
Despite its long history of traditional use in Southeast Asia, kratom has only recently received significant attention as a plant-based remedy in the West. The emergence of a kratom product of interest in the West, and particularly in the US, is evident from the results of several recent surveys, analyses of online user reports, and reviews of the scientific literature Results of those analyses yield clear evidence that a large number of individuals in North America and Europe are using kratom products for the self-management of a number of medical conditions, including pain, OUD, anxiety, and depression . In the US, for example, current estimates from the American Kratom Association suggest that more than 1 million individuals in the USA may be using kratom (American Kratom Association, 2018a), although incidence of use has not been rigorously studied. At the same time, some unscrupulous marketers are promoting kratom as an opioid-like “legal high” . The unregulated sale of kratom via the internet and deceitful marketing practices may have prompted some individuals to use kratom as a recreational drug. This poorly regulated market, wide distribution, and reported risks of toxicity associated with kratom use, are all likely to have encouraged regulatory agencies to suggest the removal of this product from the market.
In the West, a wide variety of kratom products—including raw leaves, capsules, tablets, and concentrated extracts—