In the kratom community, we’re no strangers to bad news. From Food and Drug Administration crackdowns to dubiously-legal searches and seizures to international bans, kratom users and manufacturers alike have had to put up with some real impediments.
But those hardships make the victories all the sweeter. And with a new study out of Johns Hopkins reaffirming what so many kratom users have said about the kratom herb, things are tasting pretty sweet indeed.
In short? The study supports kratom’s therapeutic potential and limited potential for abuse, calling for further research but not an outright ban of the sort that the FDA has long sought.
In this article, we cover the findings of the Johns Hopkins kratom study, parsing the data so that you’re in-the-know on this big break in kratom awareness. Let’s dive into the data from Johns Hopkins, one of the most reputable medical research institutions in the US.
The Nature of the Johns Hopkins Study
It’s important to note what this new source of info is and isn’t. It won’t offer a definitive, be-all-end-all vindication of kratom’s safety or efficacy, but it does lend significant credence to the idea that kratom is safe, effective, and a potentially worthwhile treatment option for countless individuals around the globe.
Published in the February 3rd issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the study was a survey of nearly 3,000 adult kratom users in the US. And while the researchers caution that self-reporting surveys aren’t 100% reliable, they’re nonetheless an important early tool to guide agencies and regulatory bodies in their decision-making.
And as a metric for future such decisions, the study is resoundingly positive. According to study co-author Albert Garcia-Romeu, Ph.D. with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the new survey findings “suggest that kratom doesn’t belong in the category of a Schedule I drug, because there seems to be relatively low rate of abuse potential, and there may be medical applications to explore, including as a possible treatment for pain and opioid use disorder.”
The Study’s Findings
The Johns Hopkins study provides metrics for a broad swath of kratom users’ experiences, from the reasons that they employ the kratom herb to user demographics, experience with side effects, and even frequency of substance abuse involving kratom.
Who Takes Kratom?
This is likely the area of the study that is least representative of the broad kratom community, as issues of access and other response-impeding demographic differences exist. Nonetheless, in the survey:
61% of respondents were female.
~90% of respondents were white.
Respondents were 40 years of age on average.
~84% had at least some college education.
Why Do Users Take Kratom?
Most users reported success using kratom for multiple therapeutic purposes.
91% of users reported taking kratom for pain relief.
67% took kratom for anxiety.
65% took kratom for depression.
41% reported taking kratom to treat their opioid dependence.
Of special note: (According to the study) of those taking kratom for opioid dependence, over 87% reported relief from their opioid withdrawal symptoms, and 35% had used kratom to completely cut out opioid use for over 1 full year!
IMPORTANT: Kratom Spot does not endorse these use-cases, nor do we suggest using kratom for any of these purposes. This article is aimed only at sharing information as it appears in the Johns Hopkins study.
Do Kratom Users Experience Side-Effects?
The survey also gives valuable insight into the prevalence of side effects from using the kratom herb.
19% of respondents reported experiencing minor side effects such as upset stomach or lethargy.
1.9% reported more severe side effects, including anxiety, irritability, insomnia, or depression.
9.5% of users reported any noticeable withdrawal after frequent kratom use.
What Do These Findings Mean For Kratom’s Future?
Overall, the study’s findings are an important metric that bodes well for kratom’s future in the US. But it’s far from conclusive, and the need for further research is clear.
Garcia-Romeu commented on the findings, stating, “Although our findings show kratom to be relatively safe according to these self-reports, unregulated medicinal supplements raise concerns with respect to contamination or higher doses of the active chemicals, which could increase negative side effects and harmful responses.”
That’s to say: the study advocates strongly for regulating kratom and not for a generalized ban, owing largely to the demonstrated potential for a variety of legitimately beneficial therapeutic uses of kratom herb.
The fight for the future of American kratom is far from settled. Still, every new piece of evidence, every reputable study into kratom’s uses, is another tool for keeping kratom safe, effective, and legal for the millions who use it every day.
What Can You Do To Protect Kratom’s Future?
Evidence like the Johns Hopkins study is a powerful tool for protecting American kratom, but the kratom herb’s future may come down to the advocacy of passionate users.
The most effective path towards that end remains the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, which more and more states are considering for local implementation. Advocacy groups and individual users alike are well-served by reaching out to their local legislators to voice support for similar kratom legislation in their jurisdiction.
For more, be sure to ally with the American Kratom Association, whose advocacy and outreach have often been the last line of defense against misguided attempts at kratom bans.
And, of course, we need to spread the word about this and future kratom research. It’s another voice that echoes what the American Kratom Association, Kratom Spot, and so many more have long argued: the key to safe, effective kratom can only come through regulation and stricter requirements for product quality and safety.