Why Is Kratom so Important, What’s the Big Deal?

The fight for Kratom has ramped up again, except this time a new contender enters the ring.


Kratom Vs The FDA

For those unaware, in August of last year, Kratom advocates woke up to the news that the DEA would temporarily reclassify Kratom as a ‘schedule 1’ drug, which resulted in massive backlash.

Public demonstrations, along with 120,000 signatures and ceaseless calls to local congressmen and women, forced the organization to call off the immediate ban and wait for further comment.

Most Kratom advocates assumed that they were in the clear, that is until November 14th of this year; when the even larger, more powerful FDA made a public statement deriding Kratom as a “harmful unapproved product”, which has “significant safety issues associated with its use“.

Although no direct call to ban or suspend the herb was issued, the FDA is already confiscating major shipments of Kratom, along with advising health boards to implement a ban on the local level. As you can expect, this sparked another massive volley of backlash. And as Kratom advocates gear up for battle once again, a critical question remains to be answered:

Does Kratom have medicinal value?

FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, says no. Written in his open letter:

“there are currently no FDA-approved therapeutic uses of kratom. Moreover, the FDA has evidence to show that there are significant safety issues associated with its use.”

This statement is, of course, profoundly unscrupulous and written in such a way as to avoid addressing the considerable body of science that corroborates Kratom’s therapeutic benefits.

But we shouldn’t be too surprised; according to the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics: “90 percent of all new drugs approved by the FDA over the past 30 years are little or no more effective for patients than existing drugs”. Not to mention, every week roughly 53,000 people are hospitalized and 2,400 more die from “taking properly prescribed drugs to be healthier.”, according to sociologist Donald Light of Harvard.

It seems that the FDA – and Scott Gottlieb in particular – are more interested in outlawing an herb with not a confirmed death to its name, rather than fixing an organization that has committed an array of destructive errors. Shameful. 

There is one line in the FDA’s letter that is on some level, commendable:

“While we remain open to the potential medicinal uses of kratom, those uses must be backed by sound-science and weighed appropriately against the potential for abuse. They must be put through a proper evaluative process that involves the DEA and the FDA. To those who believe in the proposed medicinal uses of kratom, I encourage you to conduct the research that will help us better understand kratom’s risk and benefit profile, so that well studied and potentially beneficial products can be considered.”

Assuming that the FDA keeps their word, this could be a golden opportunity for a batch of even more stringent Kratom research. 

Until then, it’s important for us to understand why this herb is worth protecting and why ANY infringement on it, is seriously detrimental for the thousands of people who use it, everyday; mainly for therapeutic purposes.

Kratom’s notorious wrap as a ‘legal high’, may be the most destructive baggage it carries. It’s essentially a bad P.R. colloquy, which gives incompetent government agencies and politicians alike, an ‘in’ for misunderstanding, then scheduling it. We have to be more capable in our defense of Kratom, and that starts with understanding how it works, its history, chemical compounds and legitimate down sides. Here’s what we know about The FDA’s number 1 target.

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Ashwagandha: The Wonder Herb

A few years ago while prowling through my local farmer’s market, on the hunt for the freshest head of cabbage I could find, a woman with long frizzy Janis Jopline-esque hair yelled out to me from across the street. She was sitting down, neatly perched behind a white pop up table that was filled to the brim with colorful, psychedelic taper candles that stood upright next to bars of soap, which were nested in wool and bags of what I’m pretty sure was ground up Mugwort. Above her, hanging from a worn canopy tent, was a large brightly colored Mandala banner with the words, ‘Healing Herbs’ embroidered in moss green.

Now, up until this point I actually didn’t know people like this existed. I mean, of course I knew that there were hippies and colorfully dressed new age- spiritual dwellers who walked around talking about their seven Chakras and nine inner energy fields. But being from a small rural town, I sort of assumed that these people all fled to a forest somewhere in Northern California where they shared helpings of tree bark and danced around holding hands while chanting to Mother Gaia. I certainly didn’t expect one of them to break loose from the bunch and start trying to sell me shit at a farmers market…

I walked over to her stand and politely asked how she was doing. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, she informed me that I was walking with a bit of a limp, which is why she called me over. She quickly reached over her shoulder and pulled out a 4 oz bag of what looked like twigs. Suddenly and without any warning I was thrust into a full blown lecture about the bone healing properties of Ashwagandha. A volley of full blown woo woo and mystical gobbledygook was raining down upon me and my only defense was to smile and nod.


“Ashwagandha is a sacred herb and has been used by the people of India for thousands of years to strengthen bones and increase spiritual well being”.

“The most esteemed Hindu sages would administer Ashwagandha to the kings”

“Rishi himself, may blessed peace be upon him, incorporated Ashwagandha into his teachings of what is now Chakra!”

At the time, I just couldn’t take it. I did everything in my power to politely disengage from the conversation, just short of throwing the I Ching myself. After a few more volleys of metaphysical Jesus herb talk, I informed her that I was late for a meeting and evacuated the area, praying that she wouldn’t hunt me down on a broomstick.

Looking back on it, my sense of skepticism (and closed mindedness) was fairly startling. If I so much as heard the slightest amount of herbalist murmurings, I’d grab my SSRIs and make haste to the nearest prescription pharmacist, to be assured that the scary people would go away soon and take their plants with them.

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