“Kratom needs to be responsibly regulated to prevent dangerously adulterated counterfeit kratom products.” The American Kratom Association 

A new study by a leading research found low abuse potential of mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine in a classic animal model, that directly contradicts the FDA’s claim that kratom is a morphine-like opiod. 

The study concluding that kratom’s primary alkaloids did not produce rewarding brain effects was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence by Dr. Behnood-Rod and colleagues. It was established that these krater alkaloids do not have abuse potential and that they are not rewarding, and that high doses might be aversive. As shown in their studies, 10mg dose of morphine was rewarding. 

The study also complements two other studies that employed well-established models for comparing substances to morphine with respect to physical dependence and withdrawal. Those studies found very low levels of withdrawal produced by mitragynine exposure as compared to morphine. This is consistent with surveys and field studies suggesting that even in heavy long term users of kratom who might experience withdrawal from kratom when they stop using it, the effects are generally far less intense and more readily self-manageable than those produced by abstinence from morphine and other classic addicting opioids. In fact, these studies and other evidence also indicate that many people report using kratom to self-manage opioid addiction, craving, and withdrawal though this is not recognized as an approved safe and effective use by health authorities. 

Consumers can harm themselves from overusing virtually any product, but research shows kratom does not cause overdose deaths like opioids do. Kratom does not give a consumer a reinforcing high that leads to addiction (consumers can become dependent on kratom, like a caffeine dependance). The vast majority of kratom products are legally marketed and labeled properly as foods. 

Dr. Henningfield commented: “Abuse potential assessment and substance regulation is strongest when based on a broad range of types of laboratory studies and real world evidence to understand the pharmacological effects, safety and public health risks and benefits, as recommended in FDA’s 2017 guidance: Assessment of the Abuse Potential of Drugs.This was the approach by my colleagues and I in our analyses of kratom’s abuse potential and our regulatory recommendations. It is exciting to see kratom research efforts increasing and using a broad range of techniques such as the animal self-administration, ICSS, and withdrawal models, and studies of potential therapeutic effects, as well as surveys of real world use and effects in the US and other countries such as by Malaysia’s Center for Drug Research.” 

Dr. Henningfield has researched and contributed to the regulatory approaches for many substances and new drugs through his studies with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Johns Hopkins University, and other research institutions, and provides consulting support through PinneyAssociates on drug regulation as well as kratom science, including advising to the American Kratom Association.