COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Kratom has been the hot topic around Columbus and Lowndes County this week.
It’s a topic that comes with a lot of opinions and mixed views.
On Monday, WCBI did a story about the product, which led to dozens of comments and emails from dozens of people.
We reached out to many of those people who are in support of the product, but didn’t get a response.
We also reached out to the American Kratom Association, who sent us many documents filled with facts and background info.
The American Kratom Association said there are nearly 5 million Kratom users in the U.S.
It said people use the product for energy, pain relief, anxiety and depression relief, and to relax.
The group said traditional use is reported to benefit the quality of life, and improve social and occupational behavior, with little evidence of serious or personal harm.
Until, the user crosses the line from use to abuse.
“The patient came in because they wanted to have detox from taking this in massive quantities per day and so in talking with poison control, as well as our behavioral health folks, who do our medical detox, there is no detoxing from this,” said Baptist Golden Triangle Emergency Room Physician, Dr. Genelle Pernia.
American Kratom Association said users can develop a mild addiction from Kratom, but said it’s similar to caffeine addiction and its withdrawal is also similar to caffeine.
Doctors said the problem comes if people don’t keep close tabs on their Kratom usage.
“The problem comes is that it begins to like anything, require more and more to get the same response, until the point where you start taking larger doses, which lead to addiction. The things that can happen to you at that point is muscle pain, fatigue, you can have chest pain, insomnia.”
American Kratom Association also said using Kratom comes with risks just like anything else, including caffeine, candy, and vitamins.
The group’s research stated that the active compounds of Kratom have been found to be safer than classical opioids.
“Basically, how this works is, it’s an opioid agonist. When you take a drug that’s in the opioid family, it triggers pain receptors, therefore blocking pain, so you do get an opioid like response from taking this. It’s a very mild response and on a regular dose, it acts as a stimulant, according to poison control.”
The natural Kratom plant is typically consumed by chewing on the leaves, brewing the leaves or powered leaves in hot water to create a tea, or in capsules with powdered kratom leaves.
One area of concern is some believe the word natural automatically means safe.
“Curare is natural. It’s a poison and a little bit on the end of a dart will kill you, so don’t ever think that a natural product has no side effects and is perfectly good for you. It is not, it does not work that way,” said Dr. Pernia.
“You have to consider what natural means. Simply, other drugs that we have to enforce laws on, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, all derive from a natural plant. It all comes from something that grows naturally, said Captain Archie Willams of the Lowndes County Narcotics Divsion. “It’s just what it’s made into and what the chemicals do in the leaves or that plant, what they do to the body.”
The trade group points to a 2018 effort to make a natural kratom a Schedule 1 drug, like cocaine and heroin, that was put on hold by the FDA after scientists argued it mad more benefits than potential for abuse.”