“Kratom: From Ancient Remedy to Modern Debate”

March 11, 2023

Kratom, a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia, has been used for centuries by indigenous populations for its medicinal properties. However, in recent years, kratom has been demonized by some governments and organizations, leading to bans and restrictions on its use. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why kratom has been so heavily demonized in the past 100 years.

One of the main reasons for kratom’s demonization is its similarity to opioids. Kratom alkaloids, such as mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, interact with the mu-opioid receptors in the brain, leading to effects such as pain relief and improved mood (Jansen & Prast, 1988). Because of this similarity, some have argued that kratom should be classified as a controlled substance, just like other opioids.

Another reason for kratom’s demonization is the lack of scientific research on its safety and efficacy. While there have been some studies on kratom’s effects, the majority of the research has been conducted on animals or in small, uncontrolled human trials. This lack of research has led some to question the safety and efficacy of kratom, leading to calls for further research and regulation.

In addition to these reasons, kratom has also been demonized due to its potential for abuse. Some individuals have reported using kratom to self-treat opioid withdrawal or as a recreational drug. While kratom is not considered to be as addictive or dangerous as other opioids, its potential for abuse has led to concerns about its safety.

Furthermore, kratom has been demonized by some media outlets and organizations who have reported on negative incidents involving kratom, such as deaths and hospitalizations. While these incidents are serious, it’s important to note that they are often rare and the cause of these incidents is often a combination of other factors, such as pre-existing medical conditions, other substances use, or contaminants in the kratom products.

It’s also worth noting that the FDA has issued several warning letters and a public health advisory regarding the safety of kratom (FDA, 2019). The FDA has also warned that kratom can cause serious side effects, including seizures, hallucinations, and liver damage (FDA, 2019). However, it’s important to remember that there are also many reported cases of people who have found benefit in using kratom for various conditions and it’s important to consider the potential benefits and risks before making any conclusions.

In conclusion, kratom has been heavily demonized in the past 100 years due to its similarity to opioids, lack of scientific research, potential for abuse, and negative media coverage. While kratom should be used with caution and under the supervision of a healthcare professional, it’s important to remember that more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and risks of this plant.


Jansen, K. L., & Prast, C. J. (1988). Ethnopharmacology of kratom and the Mitragyna alkaloids. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 23(1), 115-119.

-Tiffany King

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