Recent Studies: Kratom and the U-District

Mitragyna Speciosa also known as Kratom (as more popularly known in Thailand) is known to produce a morphine-like effect on people upon ingestion. According to a study conducted on kratom eaters in Thailand, the plant contains several alkaloids so that eaters experience a prevailing pleasant mood “with a strong desire to do manual work.” This is beneficial to users who are mostly known to be manual laborers and jungle hunters. However, the same study reveals that “withdrawal symptoms occur, and psychiatric problems arise after prolonged use.”

Kratom LeavesA study conducted by the Journal of Medical Toxicology argued that the use of kratom can cause seizures and withdrawal symptoms that include abdominal pain, cramping, sweating and diarrhea.

In a more recent study conducted in the U-District, a number of professors from the University of Washington revealed that more and more students have turned to using kratom. One of the students confessed that the South-East Asian plant “makes you feel relaxed and mellow,” which could “last about 45 minutes to an hour.”

In February this year, UW psychology professor Jaime Diaz observed that students find kratom attractive for the fact that it is placed on the DEA’s list of Drugs and Chemicals of Concern and that kratom consumption leads to addiction according to the DEA. The professor said, “The DEA doesn’t realize the psychology of making something even more glamorous. You never would tell (someone), ‘Don’t ever do this.’ It’s the first thing they’re going to do.”

In June, King 5 conducted an investigation on the negative and addictive effects of kratom. This, however, backfired as it only made the plant more popular among UW students.

Diaz believes organizations such as King 5 and the DEA should withhold making judgments until more research and studies are conducted on the kratom. “It’ll be controlled one way or the other,” Diaz said. “Until there is a bona fide clinical application, then you’ll have pharmacies that start to produce it.”

Future studies on kratom might just reveal that this natural drug can do more help than harm. An anonymous smoker in the U-District revealed that “kratom is natural” and therefore has little of the bad stuff that is found in other addictive drugs. It is now widely distributed in the U-District.

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