Understanding the FDA, Kratom, and the American Kratom Association

Kratom pills and powder: what the FDA thinks

Kratom, by the most simple definition, is the leaf of the mitragyna speciosa tree. This tree grows natively in Southeast Asia, and it is now cultivated all over the world. Mitragyna speciosa is in the same family, Rubiaceae, as the coffee tree. It may come as a surprise, then, that kratom has become such a heavily politicized issue in the United States. The FDA has taken an anti-kratom stance, but individuals and organizations like the American Kratom Association are working hard every day to help advocate for kratom.

What Does the FDA Say About Kratom?

The FDA has declared that kratom is an opiate and said that it would contribute to the opioid epidemic in the United States. This is at odds with what a lot of kratom advocates, including respected members of the medical community, have said. The FDA has been pressuring the DEA to create a prohibition on kratom for years. The DEA did announce their intent to do so back in 2016. At that time, there was such an outpouring of public support and advocacy for kratom that the DEA reversed their decision, keeping kratom legal in most of the United States.

What Is the American Kratom Association?

The American Kratom Association was founded in 2014, and the organization is committed to restoring and preserving the freedom of United States citizens to make their own choices about kratom. The organization receives support from kratom consumers, including doctors, lawyers, teachers, and law enforcement officers. Their five main goals are as follows:

  1. The American Kratom Association wants to create change in the ways political and private entities prioritize the needs of consumers. 
  2. The organization wants to educate Americans about kratom.
  3. The organization wants to provide a platform for people who want to share their personal stories about their experiences with kratom. 
  4. The American Kratom Association wants to set an example that other countries can look to when they consider kratom legalization.
  5. The AKA wants to support and advocate for sustainable harvesting and reforestation to protect kratom as a natural resource.

American Kratom Association and the FDA

The American Kratom Association doesn’t mince words. “Follow the science” is a familiar rallying cry of kratom advocates, and the AKA doesn’t think the FDA has done that in regards to kratom. The American Kratom Organization released a fact sheet that seeks to contrast fact with fiction. The fact sheet begins with a harsh condemnation of the FDA and their approach to kratom:

“The FDA has repeatedly attempted to force kratom into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act by misstating the science, ignoring kratom’s long history of safe use, and falsely claiming kratom has the same effects as classic opioids. The FDA’s distorted record on kratom is clearly a part of the FDA’s long-standing bias against some types of dietary supplements that are safely used by millions of Americans. They’d rather back chemical drug formulations that are subject to new drug applications that have their own potential and frequently serious adverse health impacts.”

How Can I Contribute to Kratom Advocacy?

Here at In Sense Botanicals, we care deeply about public health and safety. We’re also strong advocates for legal kratom. If you wish to join us in our effort to keep kratom accessible for Americans, we invite you to do so. Some of the best ways to do this include sharing your own personal story with kratom, responding (respectfully) to misinformed or dishonest claims about kratom, or donating to the American Kratom Association.

Image: Iryna Imago

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