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Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration say compounds in the popular herbal drug kratom act like prescription-strength opioids. Kratom has been tied to 44 deaths, up from 36 reported in November. Kratom is “not just a plant — it’s an opioid,” says FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD.

Last October, the Reader did a story about young men claiming to sell a product called Kratomystic Premium Ethnobotanicals from a mail-drop on Mission Gorge Road. The company claimed to be the “leading provider” of drugs with kratom, but it is doubtful the firm was successful. Earlier, it had claimed to be a leading supplier and researcher of nootropics (smart pills), but the company never got off the ground.

Kratom has a passionate following. In 2016, the FDA announced federal marshals had seized 90,000 bottles of kratom. The agency says it was a threat to public health. Fully 142,000 kratom lovers signed a petition denouncing the federal drug agency; they rallied in front of the White House. The American Kratom Association said the drug could be used to manage pain and promote a sense of well-being.

So the FDA put kratom on hold until it did more studies. This week, it lowered the boom on the drug.

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Don Bauder Feb. 8, 2018 @ 8:08 p.m.

Rig Pri: I appreciate your opinion, but many people are very happy that the federal government tries to protect us from harmful drugs. These same people appreciate government roles to protect the environment, promote workplace safety, protect investors, etc. Yes, governments on all levels often fall short -- protecting investors is an example -- but some people are happy to have governments do such things. Best, Don Bauder


JustWondering Feb. 8, 2018 @ 9:49 p.m.

Echos of Metabolite International and its ephedra based “dietary supplemental”. Funny even color resembles Metabolite’s banned product.


Don Bauder Feb. 9, 2018 @ 7:48 a.m.

JustWondering: Yes, there are faint echoes from the Metabolife scam. Metabolife was designed to hype one up, and killed some people. The company concealed complaints from regulators. Kratom supposedly is a smart pill initially, then becomes a sedative. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh Feb. 9, 2018 @ 7:33 a.m.

But, but, but . . . it's a natural product. And natural things are good for you, aren't they? Just the way pot is good for you, which is a natural substance.

There are thousands of unregulated "natural" products out there on the market, and most are generally harmless, and a few may be beneficial. But the way they are marketed so often, with claims of "clinical proof" that they work, makes me wary. Is there a happy medium between banning a product and just letting it be sold, regardless of the things that are known about its hazards? Maybe requiring that it be sold with warnings and cautions would be the way. But then, since many users of the herbal materials are suspicious of anything coming from government and/or the pharmaceutical industry, would such warnings be heeded?


Don Bauder Feb. 9, 2018 @ 7:54 a.m.

Visduh: There are a number of people who swear by these "natural" products. But natural things aren't necessarily good for you. You can die from something that looks like a mushroom.

Many will scream about this FDA action. However, I believe that agency should look into every product claiming. to be a cognitive upper (essentially, smart pill) as well as those that induce euphoria. Of course, once a drug is banned, it becomes sold in the black market. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 9, 2018 @ 7:57 a.m.

John Seger: Kratom has a huge following -- and as the item states, has something that appears to be a trade association. The public clamor kept the FDA from acting for quite awhile. I am sure the clamor will resume. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan Feb. 9, 2018 @ 9:55 a.m.

Drug abusers don't test the effects of a substance with a tiny dose. They swallow, snort or shoot up like an impulsive reckless daredevil. Multitudes have to be saved from their own negligence, intentional or not. Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), became addicted to cocaine he was experimenting on himself to find a new anesthetic pain medication. And physiology changes.


Don Bauder Feb. 9, 2018 @ 10:45 a.m.

shirleyberan: I don't remember ever reading that Freud became addicted to cocaine, but I haven't read a lot about Freud.

I would have loved to be a fly on the Wall when Gustav Mahler, one of the greatest composers and conductors of all time, had a consultation with Freud about Mahler's wife, Alma, who was, as the British say, "a bit of a rover." Best, Don Bauder


swell Feb. 9, 2018 @ 6:44 p.m.

I have no experience at all with kratom, nor have I examined any research studies. Therefore I am just as qualified as the FDA to have an opinion about it. The FDA is responding to political pressure which in turn is a response to citizen concerns, which is an entirely emotional matter. Notice that no peer-reviewed studies are cited. In fact Medscape says "Again, there have been no controlled studies regarding the use of this agent, and formal safety and efficacy studies are lacking." ( )

Now, about the 36or44? fatalities… Presumably these are not career addicts who are also taking other substances, right? No, not right. When the government wants to prove a point they will use any 'evidence' that they can conjure up.

But lets allow that there really were 44 fatalities that had no other mitigating factors. 44 people is a lot, right? If 44 people in my building were to die there would only be 5 left alive! But they seem to be talking about the USA, with ~400 million people. So is 44 still a lot of people? That many people probably die from aspirin every month. Aspirin should be outlawed! Here's a headline from the Telegraph News: " Daily aspirin behind more than 3,000 deaths a year, study suggests " ( )


Don Bauder Feb. 9, 2018 @ 9:11 p.m.

swell: I have been taking aspirin daily since I was ten years old because I have chronic headaches. I did have one very bad experience: an aspirin burned through my stomach, causing bleeding. My wife had gone downstairs because I was in such agony, but she heard the crash when I passed out. We got help and by the end of the weekend I had recovered. Now I only take coated aspirin. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi Feb. 9, 2018 @ 7:55 p.m.

Sigmund Freud did have a bout of addiction to cocaine. It was a newly discovered substance (although used by the Inca for thousands of years) and he experimented with it. Cocaine was also used in Coca-Cola (Cocaine-kola nut) Pepsi (for some pep) and Dr. Pepper (more pep). Coca-Cola continues to this day to use cocaine extracts (one of its "secret ingredients") minus the active ingredient. Coca-cola purchases the coca leaf ingredients from the Stepan Company. NYSE stock symbol: SCL


Don Bauder Feb. 9, 2018 @ 9:13 p.m.

Ponzi: I don't think I will buy shares in SCL until this market settles down. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan Feb. 10, 2018 @ 2:14 p.m.

If it's addictive you're sure to get repeat consumer customer$


Don Bauder Feb. 10, 2018 @ 3:57 p.m.

shirleyberan: Of course. You remember the controversy about cigarettes. The companies were deliberately putting properties in the products that made them more addictive. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan Feb. 11, 2018 @ 9:30 a.m.

Hunter Knight - pretty sure there's not a big addiction problem with fentanyl cause it only takes a little to OD and die.


Don Bauder Feb. 11, 2018 @ 10 a.m.

shirleyberan: Better check that statement on Fentanyl. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 11, 2018 @ 10:02 a.m.

Hunter Knight: Supporters of kratom say it helps people defeat addiction to other drugs. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan Feb. 11, 2018 @ 10:14 a.m.

There are homeopathic pain reducers. The people who play with prescription pain killers ruined it for the rest of us. At least we have our alcohol and marijuana for sport. Joking Don, too much detox and recovery time.


Don Bauder Feb. 11, 2018 @ 2:51 p.m.

shirleyberan: Buut do the homeopathic pain reducers really work? Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan Feb. 12, 2018 @ 11:48 a.m.

Long time back I had something, for my cat or dog that helped somewhat, for humans also. I hate needles so I will never acupuncture. Don, you see they announced no more promoting opioids or advertising Oxy. Probably Ohio influenced. Epidemic, I see about the fentanyl.


Don Bauder Feb. 12, 2018 @ 12:36 p.m.

shirleyberan: I think all advertising or prescription drugs -- whether or not they are opioids -- should be stopped or at least curbed. Doctors report that TV watchers learn about a drug and demand the doctors give them a prescription, even though the drug may not be appropriate for the malady.

I chuckle when I see these ads. The advertisers are required to list side effects. The people happily play in the daisies while the announcer reads off the possible side effects: suicidal thoughts, possible death if you are allergic to the medicine, etc. (How do you know you are allergic to it unless you have already taken it and certainly would never take it again?) Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan Feb. 12, 2018 @ 12:52 p.m.

You're so right on Don. Emotional pain is physical pain also, sometimes you just have to endure till it gets better. The body wants to heal itself so first do no harm.


Don Bauder Feb. 12, 2018 @ 8:26 p.m.

shirleyberan: You don't have to endure pain if the relief is not harmful. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan Feb. 13, 2018 @ 8:19 a.m.

I know Don, I had the epidural. Pity the screaming women who don't trust science.


Don Bauder Feb. 13, 2018 @ 10:15 a.m.

shirleyberan: Yes, one of our best friends doesn't trust the medical profession and the pharmaceutical companies. She will only take natural products. Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 22, 2018 @ 8:31 p.m.

Cannabis indicus in low doses is an excellent pain killer, with no "high." Very quick acting if smoked. One might try just one short hit of the modern stuff to see if it works. Three hits will get me slightly high for a short period, so if you get high with no pain relief, go back to plain C. indicus. This is a personal observation, not medical research or advice.


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