The proponents of Kratom say that this plant helps overcome addictions, acts as a natural painkiller and has few health risks.
But the US Drug Enforcement Administration ( DEA ) decided to temporarily ban its use as of September 30 .
In addition, it will be included in the category of drugs such as heroin, marijuana, LSD or ecstasy.
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“The consumption of kratom individually or combined with alcohol or other drugs is a major concern as it can lead to serious health effects, including death, ” said Russ Baer, spokesman for the DEA.
Susan Ash, director of the American Kratom Association (AKA), believes that the authorities are wrong.
“It’s a noble substance. I think the DEA is exaggerated do , ” she said.
What is kratom?
The kratom ( Mitragynia Korth speciosa ) is a deciduous plant that belongs to the Rubiaceae family , the same as that of the coffee plant.
It was used for thousands of years in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand and its leaves are consumed as a tea or crushed and mixed with water , although there are also capsules.
“It began to be used in the United States in the last 20 years and in the last 5, its use increased, I estimate that between 3 and 5 million people in the US consume it as an alternative to conventional drugs ,”explained Susan Ash, Director of the American Kratom Association (AKA)
What are its effects?
A study by the Transnational Institute, an organization based in the Netherlands, said that kratom can lead to positive effects such as euphoria, relaxation, improves sociability, Aument or energy and Alivi or d fraud r .
Among the negative effects cites nausea, stomach aches, chills and sweating, dizziness and unsteadiness, vomiting and itching .
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But according to the same study and the American Kratom Association, no evidence was found that the substance has caused fatal overdoses .
“Kratom blocks the brain’s kappa opioid receptor (the protein that helps alter the effects of pain perception, among others) so if you take a lot you will not feel something more intense than people do when they abuse drugs”, says Susan Ash.
“And because of this blocking effect, there can never be a death associated with k ratom, ” says Ash.
The DEA recognizes some benefits of the kratom but warns about its abuse.
“There are scientific studies that talk about the benefits of kratom in people with chronic pain or who had to deal with the symptoms of drug abuse like opium,” Russ Baer told BBC Mundo.
“But in large quantities has sedative effects. The DEA knows of cases where consumption k Ratom resulted in psychosis, alucinaci ones, depression and even death , ” said DEA spokesman.
According to Baer, ”we know of 15 deaths caused by kratom for its individual consumption or combined with alcohol or other substances between 2014 and 2016. Two happened in the US and the rest in other parts of the world.”
Is it an opiate?
There are opposing views about the characteristics of the plant.
“Kratom is increasingly attracting attention as a natural alternative to opioid substitution therapies with medical supervision (OST), due to its ability to attenuate potentially severe withdrawal symptoms,” he says. the study of the Transnational Institute.
For the DEA, the kratom is like an opiate.
“The two active ingredients in Kratom (mitragyna and 7-hydroxymitragynine) have side effects of opium in the body, which can lead to addiction or abuse ,” Russ Baer told BBC World.
“We received sufficient information to indicate that there is abuse and damage associated with the use of kratom, so we conclude that it represents a threat to public health and that is the basis (to prohibit it).”
Meanwhile, the American Kratom Association does not think that’s the case.
“The DEA says that is like an opiate, when in fact it is not. L DEA this sobrer r eaccionando something they believe will increase opium epidemic in the US when actually doing just the opposite ” , assures Susan Ash.
What is it used for?
Kratom has properties that help reduce pain in the body, decrease damage by withdrawal symptoms and help manage detoxification .
“I am a patient with chronic pain and I went through opium addiction, the kratom helped me overcome both problems, two and a half years ago I did not take any opium,” explained Ash.
Many people also use this substance to abandon dependence on heroin, alcohol and even tobacco, according to a study by the Transnational Institute.
“Protect the public”
According to Ash, the age of those who consume Kratom is above 30 years and most are women.
“They are adults, professionals and responsible people, we do not think you can drug them with kratom unless you combine them with something else,” he warned.
But the DEA, believes that the matter is more serious and justifies its decision to include the kratom in the list of dangerous drugs.
“We collect information about the harm or abuse associated with a substance and we have an obligation to protect the public,” said DEA spokesman Russ Baer.
A petition on the White House website for the kratom not to become a banned substance was opened at the end of August.
“If 100,000 signatures are collected in 30 days, we will review your request,” the portal said. The application received 132,043 signatures of support until Monday.