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History of Kratom Use in Thai and United States

The Thai government banned the cultivation of the tree on August 3, 1943, through the ‘Kratom Act 2486’, this in response to an increase in its use when opium became a costly commodity and the government was trying to earn the control of the opium market. And in 1979, he classified kratom in category V, out of 5, in the narcotics classification.

Kratom is not prohibited by any of the international drug treaties, so the existing prohibitions are national or local, such as the most recent ones in the United States.

Despite the ban, the consumption of kratom leaves is not frowned upon by the common population, and in recent years its use has resurfaced in the form of a cocktail known as 4X100, which is consumed abundantly on party nights; as described in the report, A fading thai drug finds its resurgence in a cocktail; This cocktail has as essential ingredients infusion of kratom, cough syrup, coca-cola, and ice; although the inclusion of other substances, including benzodiazepines, is also reported.

Kratom in the United States

In the context of the opiate crisis, kratom derivatives have expanded vigorously in the northern country. “It began to be used in the United States in the last 20 years, and in the last 5 years, its use increased. We estimate that between 3 and 5 million people in the US, they consume it as an alternative to conventional drugs, “Susan Ash of the American Kratom Association explained to RedstormScientific.

For its part, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recognizes some benefits of kratom but warns of its abuse. “The DEA knows of cases in which the consumption of kratom resulted in psychosis, hallucinations, depression and even death,” said Russ Baer, ​​spokesman for the agency, adding: “15 deaths caused by kratom from their consumption are known and or combined with alcohol or other substances between 2014 and 2016. Two happened in the USA. and the rest in other parts of the world.” 

With these arguments, the US government decided to ban its consumption from 2016 temporarily. In March 2018, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin made kratom illegal, and the United States Army prohibited its soldiers from using it.

The relegalization of kratom

The day before Christmas, the Thai government de-legalized the production, import, export, possession, and use of kratom products for medicinal purposes. The National Legislative Assembly approved the measure by 166 votes in favor and zeroed against, with 13 abstentions, which shows the broad approval of the medicinal use of the plant. 

The Thai government had previously considered legalizing kratom in 2004, 2009, and 2013; This being the fourth time when he achieved his legalization in the medicinal framework. With the reform of kratom for sale for therapeutic use, perhaps we are about to see a series of therapies and medicines for people with drug dependence based on this plant. We will continue to hear about this sacred plant.

Uses of kratom: Traditional and Medicinal

Kratom is used medicinally among indigenous populations in countries where it grows wild. The leaves are chewed to relieve skeletal muscle pain and increase energy, appetite, and sexual desire. It is also used by day laborers and farm workers as a stimulant of customary use to resist the exhausting days of work, as happens with the coca leaf in the Andes or the khat in the Arabian peninsula. In Thailand, the kratom was “used as a snack to receive guests and was part of a ritual of worshiping ancestors and goods.” 

In 1836, kratom was reported to have been used as a substitute for opium in Malaysia. Kratom was also used as a substitute for opium in Thailand in the 19th century. This use as a substitute drug has become widespread, a study by the Transnational Institute indicates that many people use kratom to abandon their dependence on heroin, alcohol and even tobacco, this because it has properties that help reduce the body pain, decreases damage from withdrawal symptoms and helps manage detoxification.

This use as a substitute drug has made it famous in some regions where heroin dependence is high. Susan Ash, spokeswoman for the American Kratom Association, in an interview with BBC Mundo, said that “kratom blocks the brain’s kappa receptor (the protein that helps alter the effects of pain perception, among others), which is why if you take a lot you won’t feel something more intense like people do when they abuse drugs.”

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