In August of 2016, the DEA made an announcement that they would be rescheduling the herb Kratom as a schedule I narcotic right along with Cannabis. I had discovered Kratom shortly before this happened, and could not understand why they would demonize this herb in the midst of an opioid epidemic where people are dying from pharmaceutical drugs prescribed by Doctors. Many people use Kratom to stay off deadly prescription medicines, but there are many who use it for it’s many health properties.

Kratom and Cannabis are completely different substances, but share many similarities. Kratom is actually a member of the Rubiaceae Family (also the family coffee belongs to), and its main constituent is the alkaloid Mitragyna Speciosa, where Cannabis’ active constituents are Terpenes and Cannabinoids. Alkaloids contain a host of antimicrobial properties as well as adaptogenic in which they work with the body’s immune system to increase it’s working output.

Kratom touches upon the opioid receptors, but follows different pathways than more addictive opioid substances. It is similar to Cannabis in that different strains provide the user different effects. Kratom strains are usually identified by the color of the leaf vein, and also the origin of where it grew. Kratom’s natural habitat is sub-tropical regions in Thailand and Malaysia. Depending on the strain and the amount ingested, the user may experience mild euphoria, increased sociability, and increased work output. Some strains can have the opposite effect and put the user in a deep, relaxed state of mind.

Both Cannabis and Kratom have traditionally been used for their analgesic properties, and both can be psychoactive in different ways. Users of both Cannabis and Kratom may experience mild withdrawal symptoms after abstaining for a few days, but symptoms of withdrawal of both these substances is minimal when compared to prescription opioids or Heroin. Neither Cannabis nor Kratom has been the main cause of death for anybody using it. If one takes too much Kratom, the user will experience nausea and possibly vomiting. Kratom kind of has it’s own built in system to let the user know they’ve had enough.

Because of the status of Cannabis and the legalization in many states, the DEA was met with huge resistance upon announcing its intention to ban Kratom. We are tired of them telling us what we can and can’t put in our bodies and at the same time allowing dangerous synthetic drugs on the market. The American Kratom association and all of its followers are currently fighting hard for Kratom to not be banned, and have made great progress. Currently more research is under way, but the threat is still imminent.

Like Cannabis, Kratom has saved many lives. People who had no quality of life before are finding it much easier to live with these types of plants. As the fight to get Cannabis rescheduled and takes off, those of us who use natural plant medicine to keep ourselves well are finally standing up and realizing that perhaps the people’s best interest and health is not top priority.

Erin Warwick has experimented with medicinal plants for over 20 years and is currently studying for her Master’s Degree in Herbal Therapeutics at Maryland University of Integrative Health. On top of this, she is a fitness expert and Personal Trainer who received a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois. When not immersed in plant matters, she can be found running heavy-duty obstacle coarse races or hanging out with her kids and pets. She thrives to help others obtain full body, mind and spirit health and wellness, and is particularly interested in unlocking the medicinal powers of cannabis and other amazing plants.