Hello and welcome to the Kratomaton Biweekly update for February 16th, 2018!
Even though it’s the season of love, all is not well in the world of kratom!
Earlier this month, the United States Food and Drug Administration released a follow-up statement to their initial kratom public health advisory. This latest update is chock-full of assertions that challenge public perceptions of kratom’s properties and usages. Most notably, the FDA has deemed kratom to be an opioid, based on their research.
We’ll have more on that – along with some good news (thankfully) – in this edition of the Kratomatonbi-weekly update! Let’s get started.
KRATOM IN THE NEWS
“Kratom … isn’t just a plant – it’s an opioid.” – FDA
Using a 3D computer simulation they refer to as “PHASE,” the FDA has announced that they’re confident in calling kratom an opioid, due to chemical similarities:
… scientists at the FDA first analyzed the chemical structures of the 25 most prevalent compounds in kratom. From this analysis, the agency concluded that all of the compounds share the most structural similarities with controlled opioid analgesics, such as morphine derivatives.
The post goes on to state:
Based on the scientific information in the literature and further supported by our computational modeling and the reports of its adverse effects in humans, we feel confident in calling compounds found in kratom, opioids.
However, later in the statement, the FDA also makes a further assertion about what kratom is:
… as the scientific data and adverse event reports have clearly revealed, compounds in kratom make it so it isn’t just a plant – it’s an opioid.
While the term “opioid” can be used in reference to a broad range of substances that bind to opioid receptors in the brain, the term is typically associated with synthetic substances.
Research has regularly demonstrated that, indeed, kratom does contain compounds that bind to opioid receptors in the brain. However, strictly labelling kratom “an opioid” because it’s an agonist of this particular receptor is dismissive of its distinctive chemical properties.
Opioid comparisons were explored in “Update on the Pharmacology and Legal Status of Kratom,” (2016) where, based on existing science, the paper’s author observed the following:
At the molecular level, mitragynines are structurally quite different from traditional opioids such as morphine. Moreover, recent studies indicate that even though the mitragynines can interact with opioid receptors, their molecular actions are different from those of opioids.
It’s unclear if the FDA is committed to labelling kratom as an “opioid” simply due to a lack of additional substance classification terminology, or if the news is meant to publically stigmatize kratom in a tumultuous era of widespread opioid addiction.
Regardless, the classification in itself is a bold statement.
Within the press release, Gottlieb also expressed the FDA’s disinterest in kratom’s medical usage, citing that the substance does not meet the “[FDA’s] standard for approval:”
The FDA stands ready to evaluate evidence that could demonstrate a medicinal purpose for kratom. However, to date, we have received no such submissions and are not aware of any evidence that would meet the agency’s standard for approval.
Kratom should not be used to treat medical conditions, nor should it be used as an alternative to prescription opioids. There is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use.
However, the FDA also restated their commitment to FDA approved drugs, specifying buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone as suitable treatments for opioid addiction.
At this point, kratom’s legality within the United States seems to be tentative. It’s uncertain what the next few months will hold regarding changes in policy and perception.
If you’re a United States citizen interested in defending kratom’s legality, please visit the links below:
We’d also like to congratulate the following vendors for confirming their Trusted Vendor status here on Kratomaton! Kudos to them for their cooperation and steadfast commitment to the online kratom community at large: