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Update on the Pharmacology and Legal Status of Kratom
Abstract and Figures
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a plant indigenous to Southeast Asia. Its leaves and the teas brewed from them have long been used by people in that region to stave off fatigue and to manage pain and opioid withdrawal. In a comprehensive review published in 2012, Prozialeck et al presented evidence that kratom had been increasingly used for the self-management of opioid withdrawal and pain in the United States. At the time, kratom was classified as a legal herbal product by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Recent studies have confirmed that kratom and its chemical constituents do have useful pharmacologic actions. However, there have also been increasing numbers of reports of adverse effects resulting from use of kratom products. In August 2016, the US Drug Enforcement Administration announced plans to classify kratom and its mitragynine constituents as Schedule 1 controlled substances, a move that triggered a massive response from kratom advocates. The purpose of this report is to highlight the current scientific and legal controversies regarding kratom.
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