The FDA is currently waging an all-out war on kratom. A year out from the historic win against the DEA’s attempted extra-judicial ban of the South East Asian plant, the FDA seems intent on picking up where DEA left off. Despite the concerted effort of regulatory agencies like the FDA, there are a number of extraordinarily brilliant experts who support the use of kratom and its continued availability for those who can benefit from it.
Recently, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta went so far as to posit that kratom could be vital in combatting the opiate epidemic. Addiction expert and Johns Hopkins University professor, Dr. Jack Henningfield is yet another authority who has made an analytical defense of kratom’s safety. I had a chance recently to contact Dr. Jane Babin. Dr. Babin has a double doctorate in law and molecular biology and has spent 20 years as a patent lawyer in the bio-tech field. Since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced stricter guidelines related to opiate and opioid prescription, Dr. Babin became interested in kratom as an alternative.
Last year she wrote an impassioned and impeccably researched defense of kratom addressed to the DEA. More recently, she was involved in writing up a report debunking two recent deaths supposedly attributed to kratom. The FDA is now claiming 36 deaths due to kratom. This is up from the previously debunked figure of 15 deaths. However, the FDA is somewhat reticent in sharing their data. When a Reuters reporter requested more information about the supposed 36 deaths, the FDA referred them to the Freedom of Information Act.
One of Dr. Babin’s concerns related to the attribution of death to kratom is the fact that so many other things are overlooked. In one of the last two cases, there were multiple exacerbating situations that could have singularly led to death. Taken together, a contraindicated drug combination and other conditions were likely to result in death, but since kratom was found in the coroner’s report kratom was assumed the culprit. That’s the equivalent of finding a heroin addict dead, needle still hanging from a vein and glass of lemonade in the other hand. At this point would you be prepared to assume the lethality of lemonade?
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