09.29.2016

Congressional members ask DEA to delay kratom ban

This article on the DEA’s plan to ban kratom, an herb used by some fibromyalgia sufferers for pain relief, originally published on National Pain Report. It is being republished here with permission from the editor. 

More than 50 congressional members have asked the DEA to delay its plan to ban kratom as of Oct. 1.

More than 50 congressional members have asked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to delay its plan to classify kratom as a schedule I controlled substance beginning Oct. 1.

In a letter delivered to acting DEA administrator Charles P. Rosenberg on Monday, the members of Congress urged the agency “to delay a final decision on the placement of kratom as a schedule I, provide ample time for public comment on this significant decision and resolve any inconsistencies with other federal agencies regarding the use of kratom.”

A second letter was sent to Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget, requesting his office to use its “statutory authority” to delay the DEA from illegalizing kratom.

Last month, the DEA announced plans to add mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, two active ingredients in kratom, to its list of schedule I controlled substances. Schedule 1 is the DEA’s most restrictive category and includes substances such as heroin and LSD.

Kratom is a tree that’s native to southeast Asia and is related to the coffee plant. It’s been used as an herbal therapy for centuries, and in recent years has gained popularity as a pain reliever and to help with opioid withdrawal.

Six states have banned kratom, saying it can be addictive, but proponents say it’s a safe, natural alternative to opioids and other pain relievers.

“The main chemical [in kratom] is mitragynine,” wrote Reps. Mark Pocan (D-2nd Wisconin) and Matt Salmon (R-5th Arizona) in a Sept. 20 letter to their fellow congressional members seeking support for a scheduling delay. “It binds to some of the same receptors as opioids, providing some pain relief and a calming effect, but not the same high. And the chemical doesn’t cause the same, sometimes deadly side effects as opioids, such as respiratory depression.”

The DEA wants to ban kratom “in order to avoid an imminent hazard to public safety … Kratom is abused for its ability to produce opioid-like effects and is often marketed as a legal alternative to controlled substances. Law enforcement nationwide has seized more kratom in the first half of 2016 than any previous year and easily accounts for millions of dosages intended for the recreational market, according to DEA findings. In addition, kratom has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. These three factors constitute a schedule I controlled substance according to the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress in 1970.”

The DEA has linked 15 deaths between 2014 and 2016 to the use of kratom, but an analysis of these incidents by Forbes.com found all but one of those deaths involved people who were using other drugs in addition to kratom.

In contrast, 180 people die each month from alcohol overdose.

The DEA’s claim that kratom has no accepted medical use is also debatable as pointed out in Monday’s congressional letter to the DEA:

“As our nation continues to combat the public health crisis of opioid abuse, the federal government has invested significant resources to develop alternative pain management strategies,” reads the letter. “This includes a study funded by the National Institutes of Health in partnership with the University of Massachusetts and the University of Mississippi to investigate the use of kratom as a remedy for opioid withdrawal. This study led the researchers to apply for a patent identifying the kratom extract, mitragynine, as a useful treatment for other addictive drugs besides opiate derivatives. The DEA’s decision to place kratom as a schedule I substance will put a halt on federally funded research and innovation surrounding the treatment of individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions – a significant public health threat. … This hasty decision could have serious effects on consumer access and choice of an internationally recognized herbal supplement.”

Kratom users were blindsided last month when they learned of the DEA’s plan, but they quickly rallied together in an effort to stop the scheduling. A WhiteHouse.gov petition asking President Barack Obama to keep kratom legal has garnered more than 130,000 signatures so far. However, it generally takes the White House several weeks to respond to petitions, so it’s unlikely any help will come from that front before the end of the month. On Sept. 13, kratom proponents rallied in Washington, D.C.

With the delivery of Monday’s congressional letter, kratom supporters are now waiting for the DEA’s response. According to Heavy.com, the DEA will not implement the ban on Oct. 1 as previously announced.

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The following congressional members signed the letter to the DEA in support of a delay to allow for more study and public comment:

Justin Amash (Michigan)

Dan Benishek (Michigan)

Earl Blumenauer (Oregon)

Suzanne Bonamici (Oregon)

David Brat (Virginia)

Julie Brownley (California)

Michael Capuano (Massachusetts)

Steve Cohen (Tennessee)

Gerald E. Connolly (Virginia)

John Conyers (Michigan)

Jim Costa (California)

Peter A. DeFazio (Oregon)

Suzan K. DelBene (Washington)

Keith Ellison (Minnesota)

Tom Emmer (Minnesota)

Lois Frankel (Florida)

Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii)

Paul Gosar (Arizona)

Tom Graves (Georgia)

Morgan Griffith (Virginia)

Denny Heck (Washington)

Joe Heck (Nevada)

Michael M. Honda (California)

Richard Hudson (North Carolina)

Steve Israel (New York)

Hank Johnson (Georgia)

Walter B. Jones (North Carolina)

Steve King (Iowa)

Raul R. Labrador (Idaho)

Leonard Lance (New Jersey)

Barbara Lee (California)

Frank LoBiondo (New Jersey)

Zoe Lofgren (California)

Barry Loudermilk (Georgia)

Thomas Massie  (Kentucky)

Betty McCollum (Minnesota)

Gwen Moore (Wisconsin)

Mick Mulvaney (South Carolina)

Scott Peters (California)

Mark Pocan (Wisconsin)

Ted Poe (Texas)

Jared Polis (Colorado)

Dana Rohrabacher (California)

Tim Ryan (Ohio)

Matt Salmon (Arizona)

Mark Sanford (South Carolina)

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (Virginia)

Adam Smith (Nebraska)

Scott Tipton (Colorado)

Brad Wenstrup (Ohio)

John Yarmuth (Kentucky)

Have you used kratom for fibromyalgia? Did it work? Share your experiences with kratom in the comments below! 

Update as of Oct. 17, 2016

The DEA announced last week that it will delay a decision on kratom to allow for public comment through Dec. 1, 2016. Click here for more details. 

Comments

  1. Desiree Wipperling says

    I was perscribed 1800 mgs daily of gabapentin for fibromyalgia. On that high of a dose I can’t function. Then I was perscribed adderal for ADHD I found kratom to be helpful. I’ve stopped taking all of my perscribed medication due to loss of insurance coverage. Now that I have coverage again I’m debating on if I really want to go back on my medication due to costs. Kratom works for those who use it as intended

  2. Sher Rucker says

    Since my doctor took away my pain medication because of all the hype about the opioid crisis(And I’m sure it is prevalent somewhere but not with me), I have been scrambling to find something that will help with my pain. I am a 61 year old grandmother who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 21 years ago and a sufferer of arthritis in my spine due to two back injuries as a teenager. I tried kratom for the first time this year(2018) and OMG! I could not believe the results! The pain medication I was taking gave me 60-90 minutes of relief, but 1/2 to 1 teaspoon in a cup of applesauce relieves my pain a good 3-4 hours. It doesn’t take it all away but enough so that I can do a little housework or do my grocery shopping or laundry. I am sold. This has been an answer to prayer for me. I hope the DEA does NOT ban this.

  3. Rachel Koenning says

    I have used Kratom with good results. It seems like all the treatments that will help with Fibro/CFS, are all being pulled from the market except for Lyrica, and Cymbalta (neither of which worked for me–terrible side effects). I know there are others like me. It makes our options limited as to pain relief. I certainly hope this ban is not only postponed but eliminated altogether.

  4. My wife cam upon Kratom after suffering with fibro for years. She now is able to keep herself much more balanced and happy. We have used a lot of places but soulfulherbals.com is the best for price and quality. About $60/pound where I was paying over $99/pound at one point.

  5. Georgina says

    I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibro.for more than 30 years . I got an e mail letting me know that it could become Schedule 1 like Cocaine and others. i was upset .I wanted to find it and to try it. I found it locally and started taking it October 10 Columbus day. I bought 3 different types Red, Green, and white. It worked really well very soon. I take one day off a week and then iI change the type I take. Yesterday was my day off , today I started taking white Kratom. It is the best product I have found.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Thank you for sharing your experience w/ kratom. It seems to be helping quite a few fibro sufferers. My hope is that the DEA will back off so that kratom will still be available for chronic pain and allow the necessary research to take place.

  6. Look, I was dependent upon hydrocodone for two years. And by “dependent” I mean that if I didn’t take it, I was in pain. I was also psychologically dependent upon hydrocodone. And by “psychologically dependent” I mean that I was AFRAID that I would be in pain if I didn’t take it.
    I think was given every non-addictive pain med on the market …EVEN SSRIs in an effort to control my pain to no avail…and each drug either did not control my pain or I suffered other side effects. I developed a nasty ulcer I had to deal with as a result of pain meds. That meant still the old pain, and then new pain and more drugs!!!
    The fact that only this one drug worked was very scary. Just the one! I was desperate to find another way. I didn’t like that my whole existence depended one pill.
    And..I also did not like medical personnel attempting to privately classify my need as an addiction. I was “dependent” in every sense of the word but far far from an addict! Is being desperate to have a prescription filled because I was living under the threat of losing my 23 year job, insurance and home every minute of my day really the definition of an addict? I’m not stupid! I knew hydrocodone was an addictive substance. But
    When I’m in pain I can’t work. When I can’t work I don’t make money. When i don’t have money I can’t pay my mortgage.
    If I can’t pay my mortgage where will my family live?
    To make the connection very clear…without the only pill that works…..my family will not have a home!
    Fortunately, I found another option by pure fluke!! My son left a bag of crushed Kratom in my kitchen with a note: ” dad, put two teaspoons in your coffee. Then call me in an hour”
    No explanations, just those two sentences. So I did, thinking it was another herbal scam.
    But it wasn’t! It worked, and it worked well. My pain subsided by 70% ( estimate only). I felt energetic but relaxed but not loopy. The energizing effects lasted about 4 hours but the pain relief was good for about 6 hours (again, estimate). Hard to explain, but it’s different AND the same. I am now able to control the pain with Kratom in my morning coffee and one Aleive! That’s it.
    This is wrong that they are trying to ban this herb! The ban should be simply that Kratom is only available to those over 18. I do not need these guys to manage my life for me! I am 52 years old. I am aware there are no studies. There are FDA statements on natural products covering the shelves of most stores…how is this any different? How I relieve my pain is none of their business. What’s more, if they succeed, I will not obey this law!

  7. Carolyn Moore says

    This is the most interesting information I have read in awhile because I have never even heard of Kratom until I read this article. I thought I was pretty savvy about prescriptions and other drugs actually. Is Kratom something you can get as a prescription from your doctor and if so, is it covered by insurance? Is it expensive and how does it make you feel ( sleepy, high, etc.) ? Are there any side effects? I am asking these questions to anyone that has experience with Kratom of course and appreciate any and all information I can get. I am sick of taking opoids and they really aren’t helping my pain as well anymore. I don’t like feeling out of it or so tired that I can’t function and have to sleep all the time. I would like to have some type of life that includes some living even if it for only an hour a day. Thanks to all for the answers and thanks for the article in the first place!!!

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Kratom is an herb. You can buy it online. No prescription needed. I don’t know much about kratom, so I’m not familiar w/ the side effects and such. The American Kratom Association might be helpful in your research. http://www.americankratom.org/

      • Audrey says

        There are no side effects from Kratom. Ok there is if you take to much your stomach hurts or you might throw up, you might get a headache.

  8. Una McManus says

    I have been disabled with fibromyaglia and chronic fatigue for eighteen years. I’ve been on the pharmaceutical merry-go-round (for the first five years of my illness) to no avail. Then one year ago, I heard about Kratom on a fibro site. I tried it and was amazed at how effective it was in giving me a break from pain during the day and helping me sleep at night. I take a small amount (about one teaspoon a day). This dependable pain relief without side-effects has helped me be more functional, to the point where I had the energy to help my eldest son (a teacher) edit his first textbook. I am a 60-year-old grandmother.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      That’s fabulous news! So glad you’ve found something that’s helpful for you!

  9. I have total spine arthritis, bulging disks, frozen shoulders, anxiety ,fibro and chronic fatigue pain. I have taken KRATOM for about 4 months now. I’m off all Big PHARMA medications which had God awful withdrawals. Kratom is a life saver, no foggy mind,no forgetting anything .I’m out of bed ,I’m being productive again in my family’s life. I can hold my grandchildren with no pain or feeling as tho I’m going to drop her because of KRATOM. My life has been given back to me and I don’t want to suffer or be doped up by medication the “government ” makes . My body my choice . It’s going to be took away from me and so many others . Other PEOPLE who are so much worse then I are going to suffer once again. My heart breaks to see how this is all going for us/me . Sad days … very sad

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I’m holding out hope that maybe the ban won’t happen. I read this morning there’s a senate letter now asking the DEA to delay the ban, too. Having so many legislators speak up for kratom is promising.

      • Jackie says

        I agree! And I am so proud that a Texan congressman signed this. Our state is entirely too “conservative”. Wow!!! 😃

  10. Michele Meacham says

    I only recently found kratom (last April) … & yes it has helped … as with anything I am not 100% pain free but it has brought my screaming 10+ pain levels down to a consistent 3 to 4 on the pain scale … to me that is livable … if/when this gets banned the DEA will put me back in my bed as a non functional mess praying to either find a cure or to die. I am not being melodramatic … I spent 12+ yrs like that before a friend told me about kratom last Spring … I pray that the DEA gets over themselves & realizes how many ppl they will be hurting t=with this ban!!

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