2018 has been an eventful year for kratom. Some events have been very been very positive, others not so much. Yet, kratom has made many news headlines.
Let’s take a look at top 5 kratom news stories to round up the past year.
5 Most Popular Kratom News Stories from 2018
1. Kratom Salmonella Outbreak in Early 2018.
We most commonly associate salmonella with food items such as raw chicken. Yet, it’s absolutely not uncommon for animals with salmonella to contaminate the environment around them, including plants.
The first reported cases of salmonella-contaminated kratom in 2018 happened in February. By the end of May, a total of 199 people across 41 states were affected. According to the FDA data, slightly more than a third or the affected people were hospitalized, but luckily there were no fatalities.
The FDA and CDC led an investigation that linked this outbreak to kratom. There was no common source and people were infected with different types of Salmonella. The FDA urged several retailers and distributors to recall their products.
Some rather popular vendors such as Kratoma and Kraken Kratom were among the companies selling contaminated kratom.
While this outbreak did not affect the legality of kratom, it did raise the question about the quality and integrity of kratom vendors. As a result, many kratom vendors started displaying their lab test results on their websites.
This is definitely a step toward making the kratom market safer for consumers. Yet, it’s not exempt from fraud and fake vendors. It’s important to carefully choose a kratom vendor and not simply buy it from anyone simply because it’s cheap.
2. High Levels of Lead and Other Heavy Metals Detected in Kratom in November 2018
Another not so positive incident occurred in November 2018. The FDA found high levels of heavy metals like lead and nickel in kratom products that could possibly lead to poisoning.
The FDA emphasized its arguments against kratom insisting that it is an unsafe opioid substance.
What slightly softened the severity of this incident was the fact that another outbreak occurred around the same time. And it had nothing to do with kratom. An E. coli outbreak was caused by contaminated Romaine lettuce and possibly also cauliflower. 59 people in 15 states were affected and an additional 27 were infected by the same strain in Canada as well.
While kratom can be contaminated, that does not mean that kratom in itself is unsafe. The E. coli outbreak showed that any food item can potentially be contaminated and make us sick.
It once again emphasized a need for more regulations when importing kratom to ensure that it not contaminated, adulterated, or otherwise unsafe for consumption.
It is also becoming increasingly more important to make sure that you purchase kratom from a vendor that you can genuinely trust.
3. The FDA Fails to Provide a Valid 8-Factor Study on Kratom
In late 2017, a group of scientists presented an 8-factor study on kratom. It basically proved that kratom is safe for consumption and no more addictive than kratom. These arguments were a direct contradiction to the FDA’s claims that kratom is an opioid.
To prove their argument, the FDA devised a computer algorithm to analyze kratom. And it did indeed conclude that kratom was an opioid. However, it also received backlash.
Scientists and kratom supporters pointed out that a computer algorithm can be programmed to say anything. They also indicated that algorithms cannot be as thorough as people and may not go in equally as much detail when needed.
So, when the FDA presented its own 8-factor study, prominent scientists pointed out that it wasn’t thorough enough and missed lots of critical information.
As a result, on November 28, 2018, they openly published a 33-page letter that they had sent to the FDA, DEA, NIDA, and HHC regarding this. They also urged the DEA and other authorities to reexamine their data against kratom and critically assess the FDA’s stance on the topic.
In a way, this is actually news in favor of kratom as it indicates the need for more objective 3rd-party research. It would not only provide valid information on kratom, but will also help us better understand its properties.
4. US College of Pharmacy Granted $3.5M for Kratom Research
Another positive event occurred about 2 weeks after publishing the letter mentioned above. NIDA (The National Institute for Drug Abuse) awarded the scientists from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy with a 2-year grant to study kratom.
Chriss McCurdy, a professor of medicinal chemistry is one of the principal investigators. He was also one of the first scientists who began kratom research about 10 years ago.
The grant has made it possible to expand the team that researches kratom as well as use better infrastructure.
The team will focus on researching kratom alkaloids and their properties. It will also identify the potential of kratom to help overcome opioid addiction.
5. Thailand Legalizes Kratom
The last piece of news that revolved around kratom in 2018 was its legal status in Thailand.
Kratom is native to Southeast Asian countries including Thailand. Yet, in 1943, Thailand passed an act after which planting kratom trees became illegal. While some may use it as an argument against kratom, the ban did not happen because the Thai government considered kratom dangerous to use.
Rather, it was a competition to opium.
In 1942, the East Asian war broke out. It was not favorable to the Thai economy as such, so Thailand needed to make sure that it could make profits. The answer was – through opium trade. That’s because the international demand for opium had increased.
And kratom posed danger. Many used it and, unlike opium, it caused no adverse side effects or hospital visits. The government taxed opium, but not kratom. This meant that they would not be getting any additional profits from kratom trade. So, the decision was to outlaw it.
Later, in 1979, Thailand identified kratom as a Schedule V drug and labeled it as a narcotic. Import, export, possession, and distribution of kratom were punishable by law.
Thai Kratom was still available long after that. However, it did not actually come from Thailand. Instead, other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia grew it from seeds brought from Thailand after passing the Kratom Act.
But, over Christmas in 2018, the Thai government decided to legalize the use of kratom and medical marijuana for medicinal use.
This is positive news considering the fact that Thailand was one of the first countries to ban kratom.
Have you heard any other interesting kratom news stories? We’d love to read them in the comments below!