Controversial Opioid Remedy “Kratom” Opposed by Govt., Pharmaceutical Industry

By: Ira Keltz – Paying Attention TV Reporter

Public health experts believe that for every fatal drug overdose in the United States, there are approximately 30 non-fatal overdoses. That means in 2015, in the United States, there were over 900,000 opioid overdoses.

A possible alternative treatment for Opioid addiction and other health-related issues is called KRATOM.

Kratom is a natural supplement made from the leaves of a tropical tree, called ‘Mitragyna speciosa’, that is native to Southeast Asia and is a relative of the coffee plant. This drug only began to be seen in the U.S. in 2012, but it is also very easy to obtain online.

It’s currently legal in MA and NH and is sold as a capsule or as a tea and it’s available at local smoke shops, convenience stores and gas stations in the area.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. use Kratom daily for such health issues as chronic pain management, opioid withdrawal, as a mood enhancer, for severe fatigue, menstrual pain, and for treating panic/anxiety attacks.
In fact, thousands of veterans use this plant to treat PTSD-type symptoms. Its active alkaloids work on the mu-opioid, serotonin and dopaminergic receptors in the brain.

Unlike prescription narcotics, Kratom cannot cause respiratory depression, which is what typically causes death during an overdose. It is currently legal in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, but is unregulated for quality much like other ‘nutritional supplements’.

Why are the FDA, DEA, and State Governments all working to ban this ‘miracle plant’?

Christopher McCurdy, president-elect of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists says he believes it boils down to one thing, money. “There’s no financial incentive for any drug company to really pursue developing this into a drug.” Developing Kratom into a therapy would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, he said. On top of that, patenting a plant – it is nearly impossible.

Source :April 2017 NH Union Leader article:

The FDA, DEA, and state legislatures have all been lobbied heavily by the Pharmaceutical Industry, knowing that they could potentially lose millions of dollars if Kratom is widely used as an alternative to addictive painkillers like Oxycontin or Xanax for anxiety.

Many believe that Kratom may be a gateway into harder and more dangerous drugs.

As recently as two months ago (In November 2017) the FDA cited serious concerns over the marketing and effects (including death) associated with the use of Kratom in the United States, stating that “There is no reliable evidence to support the use of Kratom as a treatment for opioid use disorder; there are currently no FDA-approved therapeutic uses of Kratom… and the FDA has evidence to show that there are significant safety issues associated with its use.”

According to an article in the NH Union Leader from April:

“During a meeting in April 2017 in Nashua with Mayor Jim Donchess’ drug task force, there was a discussion about the drug Kratom — a drug that according to the task force, some people are turning to if they cannot locate heroin, fentanyl or other controlled substances.”

Linda Saunders Paquette of New Futures agreed that the new trend of Kratom should be studied further. “It is an herbal substance people use for pain relief that almost has a cult following,” she said, adding there are significant dependency concerns associated with the tree leaves from Southeast Asia.

The DEA put the Kratom debate into overdrive in August of 2016 when it tried to designate it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance on the same level as heroin or LSD within 30 days without any public comment period. The agency backpedaled after congressional lawmakers urged the agency to give the public a chance to comment. .[40] A group of 51 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and a group of 9 U.S. Senators each sent letters to Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg protesting the listing and around 142,000 people signed an online White House Petition protesting it.

142,000 people signed an online petition because either themselves, a friend, or family member was using Kratom to deal with chronic pain or wean themselves off opioids or alcohol. [40]

Part of that letter from the U.S. Congressmen read, “As our nation continues to combat the public health crisis of opioid abuse, the federal gov’t has invested significant resources to develop alternative pain management strategies. This includes a study funded by the NIH – National Institute of Health, in partnership with the University of Massachusetts and University of Mississippi to investigate the use of Kratom as a remedy for opioid withdrawal. This study led the researchers to apply for a patent identifying the Kratom extract, as a USEFUL TREATMENT for other addictive drugs besides opiate derivatives. The DEA’s decision to place Kratom, as a schedule 1 substance, will put a halt to federally funded research and innovation surrounding the treatment of individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions – a significant health threat.“The DEA noted the responses, but said that it intended to go forward with the listing; a spokesman explained:

“We can’t rely upon public opinion and anecdotal evidence. We have to rely upon science.”

Nevertheless, in October 2016, the DEA withdrew its notice of intent while inviting public comments over a review period ending the 1st of December 2016.

In November 2016, the FDA said calls to U.S. Poison Control Centers regarding Kratom increased 10-fold from 2010 to 2015, and attributed 36 deaths associated with products containing Kratom.

The DEA also reports that there were 15 deaths related to the plant between 2014 and 2016. The Federal government reports that acetaminophen — the active painkiller in Tylenol — killed 1,500 people between 2001 and 2010. Nevertheless, the FDA concluded that Kratom could make the opioid epidemic worse.

“We have reached a critical point in the opioid epidemic,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “The increasing use of Kratom as an alternative or adjunct to opioid use is extremely concerning.”

Marc Swogger, an associate professor in University of Rochester Medical Center, said there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that government moving to make Kratom illegal “doesn’t make any sense.” “People are reporting that they are using Kratom to successfully get off of opioids,” he said. “It helps with the withdrawal symptoms and helps them dial back their opioid use and some of them say it helped them quick.”

Currently there are 7 states, plus Washington D,C., that have made Kratom illegal. Those states include Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin, and D.C. In addition, the U.S. Army had forbidden soldiers from using it.[47]

-Source: JAMA – The Journal of American Medicine in Aug 2017:


Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan is president and publisher of The Valley Patriot Newspaper in North Andover, Massachusetts. He is an author, host of the Paying Attention TV/Radio Program, lectures on media bias and police issues, is a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass. Citizens Alliance, and a 1990 Police Survivor. You can email your comments to

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11 Responses to Controversial Opioid Remedy “Kratom” Opposed by Govt., Pharmaceutical Industry

  1. Bryce Reply

    January 31, 2018 at 3:03 PM

    Kratom gave me my life back. It’s the only thing that has ever helped. It helped with pain and opiate withdrawal but it doesn’t turn me into a stoned zombie. I went from almost being homeless to now being back in school and working. A Kratom ban would ruin lives. Alcohol and tobacco kill people all the time but no one talks about banning those. I’m not hurting anyone drinking Kratom tea and I’m happy for the first time in a long time. I get that the pharmaceutical industry is worried that people are getting similar effects with tea and that they will lose profits but banning it seems like a horrible option. Making Kratom illegal will be a death sentence for people in my situation who are finally taking back their lives. The FDA approves medication almost killed me and I found a way out.

  2. Bryce Reply

    January 31, 2018 at 3:04 PM

    Excellent article by the way!

  3. Sohaillad Reply

    January 31, 2018 at 4:02 PM

    Finally an article that tells it how it is.

  4. Mark Twain Reply

    January 31, 2018 at 9:34 PM

    You’re saying that because it “attaches to the mu opioid receptors” it is an opiate? Wrong sir. Cassein in cheese and milk attaches to the opioid receptors so does dark chocolate. So does fatty meat. Are they opiates? Do we need to ban them. Peanuts and Advil kill more people than kratom; in fact only 36 or so have been reported killed from kratom and EVERY ONE OF THEM WERE MIXED WITH A DANGEROUS SUBSTANCE. I understand your need to write this story. Like so many, you or someone you know may be in Big Pharma’s pockets. We see this a lot. So tell me; why like THC did Big Pharma get patents on the main alkaloids of kratom? To make their own synthetic version of course. We know they’re scared. It’s going to take shekels out of their pockets. You know what? I used to care about things like that. Now I don’t give a rat’s ass any more than they give of the tens of thousands they are killing with opiates annually. Get on the right side of history please. The bottom line is important. But not quite as important as quality of life. It gave me my quality of life back and I know many more professionals who have had the same experience. America is turning against prohibition of plant medicine (have you not noticed) and anyone standing in the way, like Joe McCarthy did with cannabis will get run down. So duck when you see America coming. It has spoken and is speaking. It doesn’t always trust big pharma as much as it does God. In fact, particularly in this case.

  5. V Brooks Reply

    February 1, 2018 at 12:56 PM

    Kratom is as dangerous as coffee. But it is a Godsend for millions of people. The only reason this is being promoted as dangerous is because Big Pharma doesn’t like the competition and like a mafia boss has ordered the FDA and DEA to get rid of it.

  6. DeeAnna Reply

    February 1, 2018 at 6:10 PM

    KRATOM SAVE LIVES. It saved my life. I was addicted to prescription painkillers and benzodiazepines for ten years. Suboxone was just as addictive and harder to come off of than OxyContin. Through the safe, natural, medicinal properties of Kratom, I was able to discontinue using not only dangerous opioids and benzodiazepines, but was also able to stop taking antidepressants. I have been taking Kratom for three years and have been clean from the previously mentioned pharmaceutical drugs throughout those three years. Kratom could definitely be THE ANSWER TO THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC!!! The FDA, DEA, & Big Pharma don’t care about the citizens of the United States! They are all about money and greed. #keepkratomlegal #kratomsaveslives

  7. Pete Reply

    February 5, 2018 at 7:15 PM

    You should update your article. Tennessee reversed there ban so It’s not illegal. Same with DC. DC put a hold on the ban back in 2016. You should get your facts straight before posting.

  8. Dennis Reply

    February 6, 2018 at 3:30 AM

    “We have reached a critical point in the opioid epidemic,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “The increasing use of Kratom as an alternative or adjunct to opioid use is extremely concerning.”

    Of course it is alarming to the Big Pharma lobbyist that now leads the FDA, kratom is cheap, it grows on trees. It works wonders and is non addictive. It hasn’t killed anyone since it cannot interfere with your respiratory system. In fact you could call it a miracle drug which will put a real hurting in the pockets of the legal dope pushers passing themselves off as benevolent scientist and doctors. Suboxone and methadone can kill you and are harder to kick than dope so if kratom is banned its just more proof that our government no longer cares for or looks out for its citizens.

    PS great article little more research and it would be perfect

  9. faisaljamal79 Reply

    February 9, 2018 at 12:09 PM

    Kratom is all natural and not addictive at all. There is a campaign run by the FDA and behind that are the big pharma. How such natural leaves can kill someone? There are different types of leaves and all are not same .. means few are more stronger than others. So, instead of claiming it as an opiate, a well research needed. Sufficient time, effort and education needed to study this natural and live saving herb.

  10. Alex Kravch Reply

    August 4, 2019 at 7:27 PM

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