October 5, 2016 – Kratom
Anchor lead: Should the Drug Enforcement Agency be concerned about kratom? Elizabeth Tracey reports
Kratom is an herbal concoction sold mostly in head shops in the US, formed from the leaves of a coffee-related plant native to southeast Asia. Now the DEA has stepped in to categorize kratom as schedule 1, a group of drugs with high abuse potential but no medical benefit, and some people are objecting. Eric Strain, a drug abuse expert at Johns Hopkins, offers his perspective.
Strain: The DEA has done it because there have been concerns about deaths associated with it, although that’s been a gnarly sort of knot because a lot of those deaths involve other drugs as well as kratom. So how do we know is it the kratom? Or is it the other drugs? At the same time I don’t think that we should think that it’s just something benign. I really do think that we need to have some research with it, then we can make an informed decision about what to do with it. :29
Advocates say the drug can relieve pain and ease opioid withdrawal. Strain says for now, he would proceed with an abundance of caution until more is known. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.