What is Kratom?
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tree found in Southeast Asia that is known to have psychoactive effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, kratom has been reported to help manage pain and opioid withdrawal and is available as a pill, capsule, or extract. The fresh leaves can also be chewed, or dried and brewed as a tea. Despite the purported benefits, there is no current evidence showing that it is both safe and effective as an herbal treatment.
The FDA has warned consumers not to use kratom products due to its opioid-like effects. In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced its intent to classify kratom as a Schedule I controlled substance. The decision to schedule kratom was withdrawn later that same year in response to public backlash about the alleged benefits of the product. In November 2017, then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement about the potential risks of kratom usage and the product’s high abuse potential. As of 2022, kratom is currently legal to commercially sell and consume in the United States except in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Utah have some form of a kratom consumer protection act, which regulates how kratom can be legally labeled and sold. Additionally, some counties and cities within states where kratom is legal have bans or restrictions in place.
What is the focus of our research?
Our goal is to assess the potential risks and benefits of kratom usage, especially when taken with other drugs. To do this, we are specifically assessing potential interactions between the main components of kratom and two drugs of interest, both of which are broken down, or metabolized, by specific enzymes in the body which are believed to be influenced by kratom and kratom constituents.