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The World Health Organization and its judgment towards Kratom

Though legal in many states all over the country, Kratom is not permitted at the federal level. A couple of things have contributed to this, with the myths and misconceptions that the herbal extract is held with society being one of them. Another contributing factor is the perception that the Food and Drug Administration has on Kratom.


For many years, the FDA has stated publicly that Kratom is a danger to all its users. Of course, as time has passed and more research has been done on the herb, it has become as clear as day that Kratom is not only not harmful, but it is also a panacea of sorts, and it can help with a myriad of ailments, both physical and mental.


In October of 2021, it was announced that the World Health Organization would be forming a committee that would discuss, deliberate, and review the nuances associated with Kratom, and discuss what future the herbal extract has as a supplement. This was huge news, with the WHO literally being the largest and most influential health and safety organization in the world.


The results of this review have a direct impact on the legality of Kratom not only in the United States but also the world over. A negative outcome, that is to say, if the WHO found that Kratom did indeed cause harm to those who used it, would mean that it would be a walk into the park to put in place new laws that outlawed the use of Kratom.


However, on the 22nd of December 2021, the committee did release the findings on its review. After a couple of months of deliberation and conducting intensive and extensive research, the committee recommended that Kratom not be the subject of a critical review. Essentially, what this meant was that the committee found that Kratom was not at all harmful.


It is easy to see why this is a huge step to the legalization of Kratom in the United States and the eventual acceptance of Kratom as a magic bullet in society and medicine.


The steps taken to achieve this outcome


In October, during the pre-preview, the committee initially took a look at Kratom and its constituent elements. By doing intensive scientific research, this meant that the committee would decipher what exactly Kratom is made up of, in its natural element. Within this committee, there was the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, which was tasked with finding out if the said elements did in fact cause addiction and dependence on the drug. The results of this latter committee were that there was not enough evidence to warrant a critical look at the herbal extract.


With the exception of one, the committee was unanimous in deciding that the two main components of Kratom, the alkaloids 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine, were not as harmful as initially thought out to be. The committee also came to the conclusion that both mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, via the WHO secretariat, remain under close surveillance so that their medicinal, physiological and psychological effects may be identified.


For the members of the larger Kratom community, the release of these conclusions was a huge victory. This was because many government organizations all over the world had tried to stifle the growth, processing, distribution, and possession of the herb on the basis that it was a danger to general health. If the review had been bad, then the most likely outcome would be that the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs would label Kratom a Schedule One substance, the same category as heroin. This would compel all the counties that were in the Psychotropic Substance Convention of 1971 to ban the said drug. One of those counties would be the United States of America.


Dangers of using Kratom


The main reason why the WHO formed this committee and opened these reviews was because, at least partially, that there had been a country-level report that indicated that there was potential use, abuse, developing dependence, and in general harm to public health as a result of the use of mitragynine and 7-hydromitragynine, both found in Kratom. This same document, in addition to these claims, also made reference to another report released by an international group. This latter report claimed that a couple of deaths were linked to the use of Kratom.


The report that WHO released completely palliated these claims, stating that even though Kratom can be toxic in very high doses, as in all medication, the number of such cases is so disproportionally low compared to the number of people that use Kratom regularly. Most of the deaths that have been linked with Kratom, to some degree, have other contributing factors, and thus the real cause of death is still unclear.


Fighting for Legality of Kratom


When the WHO released the report, tens of thousands of emails were sent to both the WHO and the FDA highlighting the benefits that Kratom has had on thousands of users and opposing any potential ban. The American Kratom Association, upon the release of this statement and this news, welcomed the report, hailing it as an enormous validation on all the emails and comments that had been submitted.


The person speaking on behalf of the organization, Mac Haddow, which is a senior ranking executive member of the AKA, stated that the organization, its members, and all the Kratom Customers and consumers all over the world were extremely pleased and grateful at the review and all the conclusions in it. He also pointed out that the organization was extremely pleased with the fact that the ECDD had found that there was insufficient evidence to warrant a full critical review.


However, he also pointed out that even though this was good news, things had to be done, and laws had to be put in place to ensure that adulterated Kratom products could not make their way into the market.


A step at a time


Even though this was all good news, many are still a bit wary of the implications of this report. What this means for users internationally and the likelihood of having future reviews is still foggy and unclear.


That being said, it is as clear as day that the release of this report and its timing is a good thing to anyone and everyone in the Kratom Community. This, for many, looks like it could be the momentum and launching pad needed to go for the legalization of the herb in the country. This is still a long way ahead, but the review is a huge step in the right direction.




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