Why Can't Kratom Users Figure Out What the Drug Really Does?

By McCarton Ackerman 01/09/15

Some say it's a cure for depression or anxiety. Others say it boosts their libido. But one thing is clear, Kratom has landed on the DEA's radar.

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Some are predicting that Kratom could become one of the most popular recreational drugs available next year, but it has created a sharp divide in what users think its effects actually are.
Kratom is being sold over the counter at head shops as a form of herbal tea or a pill or powder that can be stirred into beverages. Made from the leaves of trees that grow in Southeast Asia, Kratom acts as a stimulant in small doses and a sedative in larger ones. A bag of 30 pills sold at a head shop typically costs about $30. It has also become one of the most popular drugs to buy on the Internet and is now even more widely searched on Google than salvia.
The FDA has begun investigating the effects of the drug and some states have tried to ban it outright. But while Kratom hasn’t resulted in deaths or long-term episodes of psychosis in users, there have been recent reports of emergency room visits from users who exhibited symptoms similar to heroin withdrawal.

There also remains confusion among users as to the drug's effects. Message board users have hyped it as a natural painkiller, a methadone substitute for opiate addicts, and a cure for depression and anxiety.
However, others have reported feeling the exact opposite effects. One Kratom user recalled being “the horniest I’ve ever been…Kratom improved my performance and durability. I felt like a superhero.”

But another user said his “libido is almost completely eliminated by Kratom. To be honest, it’s pretty much the sole reason I’m quitting.” And while one person said that the drug “takes away my pain,” another reported that “the pain was so intense I was very worried about crashing on my way [to the ER]. If I put my hands around my gallbladder I felt I was being stabbed.“
Kratom currently isn’t approved for any medical purpose in the U.S. The drug is currently on the watch list put out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Jonathan Fulkerson, deputy chief counsel for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, confirmed that “it is illegal to...sell it as a drug. Kratom is on our radar for the reasons it's on the DEA's radar. It’s a drug of concern.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.