False Science is Contagious

It's nice to know the facts

A quick diatribe on a particular social media outlet that shows even first responders are still painfully clueless when it comes to the truth behind kratom. The original poster asked why psychiatrists don’t recommend kratom or other natural solutions. An emergency medical technician tried to address that. Read the snippet:

EMT: Mostly because they are not approved by the FDA, can have serious side effects, and rather ambiguous efficacy at times. Some “natural” drugs are commonly prescribed by psychiatrists, such as l-methylfolate, which is used as an adjunct to antidepressants.

Psychiatrists often prescribe antidepressants which can interact rather violently with St. John’s Wort, so it would be irresponsible for a physician to recommend taking both at the same time. St. John’s Wort also appears to be more effective for mild to moderate depression, rather than severe depression. Most people who visit a psychiatrist for depression have severe depression and probably wouldn’t benefit much from St. John’s Wort.

Kratom does not really have any psychiatric use. Opioids generally aren’t prescribed by psychiatrists, they generally (with exceptions) do not benefit people with psychiatric disorders. Some exceptions would be tramadol and buprenorphine. Some opioids are also frequently prescribed by addiction psychiatrists, like buprenorphine. Kratom is poorly researched in the area of psychiatry, and most physicians would not prescribe a medication that has not been proven to be effective. Kratom also has a lot of side effects. In my experience, it causes worse constipation, nausea, and urinary retention than standard opioids and its dissociative effects are unpleasantly strong some times.

If a “natural” medication is proven to be effective and is approved by the authorities, it becomes mainstream medicine.

Second Party: The days of being able to trust the FDA are long gone. The agency is the definition of crony capitalism, corruption, and conflict of interest. Human welfare comes only after ensuring a pretty bottom line on that income statement.
The above statements could be construed as opinion or speculation by those who haven’t researched these issues before, so here are some empirical facts. You can draw your own conclusions or investigate further:
1. Endorsing natural solutions would impact the healthcare/pharmaceutical industries negatively as, unless you are the one to discover and first reproduce a particular plant, it is not eligible for patents.
2. On the same note, if natural medicine became totally mainstream, the entire intellectual property portfolios of 41 pharmaceutical companies on the Fortune 500 list (2019) would be in jeopardy.
3. Those companies are worth about $563 billion on average and are well known to use their large sums of cash to make personal payouts to politicians.
4. Sixty-five percent of the FDA’s budget for human drugs is funded by the pharmaceutical industry – that’s over $1.2 billion annually
5. The FDA has been caught completely lying about alleged “kratom deaths” (not just embellishing, but there’s plenty of that as well). One death for which the FDA blames kratom actually involved a patient with a gunshot wound to the chest.
6. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA’s latest commissioner (now retired) to launch a propaganda assault on kratom, was a member of GlaxoSmithKline’s product investment board and, also very conveniently, was one of the pioneers of the FDA’s generic drug user fee program. Oh, he’s also a partner in the healthcare division of the former largest venture capital firm in the world (by AUM).
To your responder: I would recommend reading the medical professionals’ response to the FDA’s 8-factor analysis as a starting point. Also, you mentioned that kratom does not really have any psychiatric use. This is untrue. There are other sources aside from these, but mitragynine has shown its psychotherapeutic value in depression patients. It also acts as an antipsychotic. Also worth mentioning are its antioxidant and antibacterial properties, its ability to stop tumors from metastasizing, and its role as an antihypertensive and vasodilator.

The bottom line is kratom, despite all of the FDA’s attacks, has not actually been proven to be dangerous. Even the bloodwork of long-time users looks just as healthy as those who never used the leaf. Experts without a financial interest in kratom’s legality have found kratom to show very little potential for respiratory depression. It has also been concluded that there is very low abuse potential. Let’s remember – the FDA has failed to meet its evidentiary obligations in its attempts to have kratom listed as a controlled substance.

As I said, draw your own conclusions. Just make sure to never blindly trust (and do your homework on) any information source, always verify the funding sources of any studies you read, and to just think critically in general. Unfortunately, most government agencies no different than any mega-cap corporation with a fiduciary duty to its shareholders.

Complete with legitimate references and all. This deserved a quick mention here for sure as it was a great example of the power of knowledge. Some of the above references are actually cited on our facts page, but we always recommend doing your own research to be sure facts are credible. Good sources include, among many others, Google Scholar, the Directory of Open Access Journals, and the Public Library of Science.

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