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Kratom Research Roundup

Are you interested in what researchers have to say about kratom?

In this article, we include links and summaries to various kratom news releases published within the last few years.

Study Pokes Holes in Kratom’s Bad Rap

(University of Rochester Medical Center news release)


A scientific review, led by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and the University of British Columbia, helps shed light on misconceptions about kratom and suggests the need for further research.

Published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the review looked at the combined results of 13 studies conducted between January 1960 and July 2017, using data from 28,745 individuals.  

The study findings point to the potential benefits of kratom and suggest its potential to reduce negative mood and relieve anxiety. 

Updated 8-Factor Analysis on Kratom Released 

(American Kratom Association news release)


The American Kratom Association (AKA) highlights the findings of a new analysis showing kratom’s safety profile.

The Controlled Substance Act (CSA) requires an 8-Factor analysis from the DEA for all scheduling, or rescheduling, decisions. 

“Our study concludes that there is no evidence kratom poses an imminent threat to public health and that kratom is not like opioids in its safety and addiction risks,” said Dr. Jack Henningfield, who oversaw the 8-Factor Analysis. 

“Furthermore, our findings confirm the conclusion made by former Assistant Secretary of Health Brett Giroir that millions of people who use kratom as an opioid alternative or to treat opioid addiction would be at risk of relapse and overdose should possession of kratom become criminalized. In order to ensure safe use of kratom and to limit its abuse and misuse, our report concludes that such issues are best addressed by allowing the legal sale of kratom with appropriate FDA oversight as a dietary supplement and ingredient.”

Read the full news release here.

Natural Herb Kratom May Have Therapeutic Effects And Relatively Low Potential For Abuse Or Harm, According To A User Survey

(Johns Hopkins Medicine news release)


The survey included more than 2,700 self-reported users of kratom, bought online and in smoke shops around the United States. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine conclude that U.S. drug agencies should seek to study and regulate kratom rather than ban it outright because of its therapeutic potential.

For the survey, the researchers recruited participants online and through social media, as well as through the American Kratom Association (AKA). Overall, users were mostly white, educated and middle-aged, and 97% were located in the United States. 

Albert Garcia-Romeu, Ph.D., instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says the new survey findings “suggest that kratom doesn’t belong in the category of a Schedule I drug, because there seems to be relatively low rate of abuse potential, and there may be medical applications to explore, including as a possible treatment for pain and opioid use disorder.”

“There has been a bit of fearmongering,” he adds, “because kratom is opioidlike, and because of the toll of our current opioid epidemic.”

Kratom tea study stirs up new support for relieving opioid dependence

(University of Florida College of Pharmacy article)

In a controlled animal study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, UF scientists found that kratom offered significant pain-relieving benefits and lowered opioid withdrawal symptoms.

“There have been a lot of anecdotal reports suggesting kratom has some pain-relieving properties and has helped transition users from prescription opioids to this product,” said Chris McCurdy, Ph.D., a professor of medicinal chemistry in the UF College of Pharmacy. 

“Scientifically, this becomes one of the most important kratom studies released showing support as a potential treatment option for opioid withdrawal syndrome or opioid use disorder.”

The researchers looked at lyophilized kratom tea, or LKT, which is considered one of kratom’s truest forms, most similar to the traditional preparation. 

The scientists found that kratom offered significant pain-relieving effects in the animal models. They also found that LKT did not induce respiratory depression, a dangerous side effect of opioid medication. Respiratory depression can slow a person’s breathing rate, even to the point of death. 

“What we learned was that across a wide dosing range — all the way up to the average human equivalence dose that people use — kratom was very safe and did not affect respiration or coordination,” McCurdy said. 

“It looks to be a very safe and efficacious product in the model we used and in the more traditional-inspired form of medication that we used.”

Science is catching up on kava research as well.

In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, researchers looked at the effectiveness of kava on patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). 

A total of 75 participants were enrolled in a 6-week trial of a kava extract versus placebo. The study showed a significant reduction in anxiety for the kava group compared with the placebo group. 

Kava may also help ease insomnia, often with fewer side effects than pharmaceutical drugs or over-the-counter sleep enhancers. A specific type of kavalactone, called kevain, may be responsible for kava’s sedative effects.

In a pilot study of 24 participants with stress-induced insomnia , researchers evaluated the effectiveness of kava and valerian separately. Stress was measured in three areas: social, personal and life events. Insomnia was also measured in three areas: time to fall asleep, hours slept and waking mood. 

According to the findings, total stress severity was significantly reduced by both botanicals individually, with no significant differences between them. There was also improvement with the combination — significantly in the case of insomnia.

“These results are considered to be extremely promising but further studies may be required to determine the relative roles of the two compounds for such indications,” write the authors.

Kava and its components have also shown preventive activity against carcinogen-induced tumors in several lab animal models. This includes lung tumors as well as prostate and colon cancer.

In addition, traditional kava — alone or combined with sea hibiscus — has demonstrated anti-cancer activity against breast and colon cancer cells as well as reduced prostate tumor growth.


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