New Kratom Studies Are on The Way

Chief Smoke 'n Brew

The University of Florida College of Pharmacology recently received a pair of multi-million-dollar grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Researchers at UF say these grants are to study the active alkaloids in in kratom, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Their goal is to push kratom research along to the point where human trials and eventual scientific consensus can be reached on kratom, its effects, and its uses.

So, is this a good thing for kratom customers? Most likely, yes. Kratom is one of the most misunderstood plants around right now, and legitimate study from respected academic universities is one of the only ways kratom can gain mainstream acceptance. It could also lead to higher quality, safer kratom in the long run.

The Long Road Here

Kratom suffers from what UF researcher Chris McCurdy calls a “wrong place, wrong time” situation. Kratom gained prominence on store shelves in the 1990s alongside synthetic marijuana and bath salts—two substances that shortly afterwards received Schedule I listing, meaning the DEA says they have high potential for abuse and have no accepted medicinal value.

McCurdy sees a lot of the negative attention kratom has received as a direct result of its association with these substances, even despite the fact that there isn’t any suggestion that kratom belongs in the same class as either of those two substances.

While the FDA has made some moves to regulate kratom in the past, researchers say the government is holding off on some of its final decisions until after the research is complete. That’s a very good thing, as scheduling something as a controlled substance is often a huge impediment to research and understanding.

What This Kratom Research Involves

The University of Florida has two grants: a two-year $3.5 million grant awarded in December 2018 and a more recent five-year, $3.4 million grant, both from NIDA. The first study examines each alkaloid individually, while the second will look at their combined effects.

The goal of this research is to build a list of drug interactions, explore kratom’s effectiveness as an opiod alternative or antidepressant, to determine safe dosages, and to find why adverse reactions are more often in the US than the plant’s native Southeast Asia.

Researchers see this as another step leading towards eventual clinical trials with human subjects but admit that sort of study is probably at least five years away. Human trials will be a big step, though. A conclusive study could lead to clearer regulations and even support of certain uses from the FDA.

Does Kratom Need Regulation?

Like any industry, the kratom industry needs clear rules for companies to operate within. While government regulation is often seen in a negative light, there are reasons it could be beneficial for consumers.

Kratom in the US is sometimes contaminated with heavy metals or salmonella. Researchers suspect these heavy metal contaminants don’t come from the soil where the plant is grown, but rather World War I-era metal grinders that they think might be used to process some kratom. Salmonella arises from poor storage conditions and can lead to serious outbreaks if it affects a large batch of kratom powder.

[As a quick aside, Smoke N Brew keeps a close eye on all of the kratom we sell to make sure we’re selling high-quality, safe products]

 Concrete research can be used to persuade regulators to craft fair, safe kratom companies and customers while putting up a barrier to bad actors and manufacturers who try to cut corners with their product safety standards. The key, of course, is for advocates to remain active and push for fair regulation and not over-regulation.

Understanding is Always a Good Thing

What is most exciting for kratom customers is that researchers are looking to determine safe uses and examine kratom’s effects on certain conditions. Knowing which compounds have negative interactions with kratom will help customers be more responsible with their own well-being. If researchers can give concrete lists of conditions kratom can help with and the corresponding doses to achieve that effect much of the guesswork will be taken out of kratom powder.

Researchers say the FDA is receptive to science and their research. If they are able to present positive findings to the FDA, manufacturers and sellers will be able to operate their business with confidence, without fear that their product could be blacklisted overnight by the DEA.

Kratom is an exciting product with a lot of potential, as other researcher has shown. This latest round of studies is a massive step forward for the plant and its many advocates.

Looking for Kratom? Stop by one of our Smoke N Brew locations for a wide variety of products including a number of strains in capsules and powder.

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