New Study Finds Kratom Effective for Pain, Addiction

New Study Finds Kratom Effective for Pain, Addiction

The controversy over kratom safety

Kratom is a Southeast Asian herb that is being used by millions of Americans to treat chronic pain, anxiety, depression and opioid withdrawal. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the FDA have been trying to ban kratom for several years. Now, a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has found that kratom is relatively safe and effective for pain, anxiety, depression and opioid withdrawal.

The Johns Hopkins Kratom Study

The study, published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence on February 3, was an anonymous, online survey of 2798 kratom users. 59% of users reported taking kratom daily and the most common dosages were 1-3 grams.

Kratom was used by 91% of respondents for pain, 67% for anxiety and 65% for depression, “with high ratings of effectiveness”. 41% reported using kratom to stop or reduce prescription or illicit opioid use. About a third of those using kratom for opioid withdrawal reported they were abstinent from opioids for over a year due to their kratom use.

About one third of respondents said they had adverse effects from kratom such as constipation, upset stomach or lethargy. They rated their adverse effects as mostly mild in severity and lasting less than 24 hours. A very small minority, .6%, sought treatment for adverse effects.

According to researchers, 2% of respondents met the diagnostic criteria for kratom-related substance abuse disorder. When asked how troubled they felt about their kratom use, the mean rating was 3.2 on a scale of 0 to 100.

The DEA has been advocating for the classification of kratom as a Schedule I drug, a drug with high abuse potential and no known medical use. This classification would make kratom illegal. Lead researcher  Albert Garcia-Romeu, Ph.D., instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says the survey findings “suggest that kratom doesn’t belong in the category of a Schedule I drug, because there seems to be relatively low rate of abuse potential, and there may be medical applications to explore, including as a possible treatment for pain and opioid use disorder.”

According to Garcia-Romeu, “Both prescription and illicit opioids carry the risk of lethal overdose as evidenced by the more than 47,000 opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017. Notably there’s been fewer than 100 kratom-related deaths reported in a comparable period, and most of these involved mixing with other drugs or in combination with preexisting health conditions.”

“There has been a bit of fearmongering,” he adds, “because kratom is opioidlike, and because of the toll of our current opioid epidemic.”

A previous kratom study showed similar results

The results of this survey are similar to the 2016 online survey of 6150 kratom users by Pain News Network and the American Kratom Association. Nine out of ten respondents said kratom was “very effective” for pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, opioid addiction and alcoholism. Less than one percent said it didn’t help. The percentage of patients who rated kratom “very effective” for their pain condition:

  • Cancer 100%
  • Multiple Sclerosis 97%
  • Irritable bowel syndrome 94%
  • Migraine 93%
  • Fibromyalgia 93%
  • Rheumatoid arthritis 92%
  • Back pain 92%
  • Acute pain 92%
  • Lupus and other autoimmune diseases 91%
  • Osteoarthritis 90%
  • Neuropathy 90%
  • Trigeminal neuralgia 88%
  • CRPS 79%
  • Ehlers Danlos syndrome 76%

Why all the fear-mongering about kratom?

In my humble opinion, the fear-mongering isn’t out of concern for patients’ safety, it’s concern for pharmaceutical companies’ bottom line. This is a safe, effective herb that could replace opioids, NSAIDs, antidepressants, methadone, buprenorphine, benzodiazepines and more.

Kratom has been used medicinally for hundreds of years in Asia. The American Kratom Association estimates that 10-16 million people in the United States regularly use kratom.

Here are two kratom user reports:

From Melody Woolf:

For eight years I suffered terribly from fibromyalgia, arthritis, spinal stenosis, frayed meniscus, shoulder tendinitis and sciatica. This was despite taking 11 medications including prescribed dilaudid and fentanyl. I was bedridden most of the time and used a wheelchair and walker. I rarely left the house. For three years, I couldn’t even go visit my mom after she went into a nursing home. I missed out on ALL the activities my kids had at school and had no relationship with them.

Then, five years ago, I discovered kratom and it changed my life! It takes away about 75% of my pain. I now take ZERO medication and even my doctor approves of kratom. I bicycle several miles a day through a nature preserve near our home or walk two miles a day. I go out to places several times a week for dinner, coffee, etc. I went on a family camping and road trip from Michigan to Wyoming for the solar eclipse where I even did some rock climbing!

I’m now able to be there for my family. After starting kratom, I was able to see my mom often which was so important as she died March 23. I have been able to get to know my kids and establish a relationship with them. I am so lucky they all go to local colleges or I never would have gotten to know them. My daughter got married Nov 1. I danced till 11!

From Jason:

When I was 18 years old I broke my wrist and knuckles. I was given Vicodin and became addicted. I graduated to methadone and heroin. I had never used anything before but pot and alcohol occasionally. For the next seven years I was in and out of detox. All my plans went downhill. I had wanted to be a pro baseball player. I had trouble getting and keeping a job. I got a D.U.I. I watched eight of my friends die from heroin overdoses and I still couldn’t stop using.

Then one day a friend posted on Facebook about kratom, a southeast Asian herb that many were reporting is helpful for pain, anxiety and addiction. I ordered a sample pack of a red vein strain, the most calming strain of Kratom. Since I started using kratom, I have not had the urge to use opioids again.

My life is now back on track. I’ve been clean for over eight months and I’m going to school to get a machinist certificate. I use kratom to manage ongoing back pain, anxiety and depression. I take kratom twice a day and it costs me $30-$40 a month. I now feel confident about my future.

Kratom is already banned in six U.S. states

Though not every kratom user’s story is as dramatic as Melody’s and Jason’s, it’s clear that many are benefiting from kratom. Kratom is currently banned in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. Some cities and counties have also banned kratom. Many more states and localities are considering bans.

Help make/keep it legal

if you’d like to learn more or help make sure kratom is available nationwide, visit the website of the American Kratom Association, the main group lobbying for kratom legality.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: