Kratom research steps up as popularity increases

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A plant used by those dealing with chronic pain, opioid abuse, and more is researched as it grows in popularity.

A store in Joplin is seeing positive results from customers. The owner uses an approved FDA farmer in Indonesia to harvest the plant to create a powdered substance. However it hasn’t been given the green light by the FDA, even though one Joplin residents is seeing an impact from using it.

Christian Greek became desperate to manage his crohn’s disease symptoms.

“I was developing a lot of pain in my stomach and intestines,” says Christian Greek.

After trying many medications, Greek discovered something different: Kratom.

“The way I take it is I mix it with orange juice,” says Christian Greek, “I start getting a lot of relief from the pain and it actually prevents me from having to basically stay in the bathroom constantly.”

Kratom is a tree leaf from Southeast Asia.

“It is actually taken off the tree and it is hung out to dry and it is milled through they pulled out the stemming and the veining and they just make it into a flower-like consistency,” says Tammy Bieganowski with Kratom Joplin LLC.

When consumed in small doses, Bieganowski says it can serve as a stimulant, as a ‘cousin’ of the coffee tree. In larger doses, it is often used to manage pain or treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. 

“The facility that my farmer used to produce his Kratom is FDA compliant and GMP, General good manufacturing practices. And then when it comes in here we break it down and then we sell it by the ounce. We are registered by the state as a vitamin supplement company,” says Tammy Bieganowski.

Bieganowski says many of her customers also use Kratom to wean off of opioids.

“We do see the progress we’ve actually had several come off of methadone, suboxone, heroine, oxycodone, and they’ve maintained jobs for the first time ever, they’re functioning citizens,” says Tammy Bieganowski.

Although, Kratom itself is not an FDA approved substance at this time. Local pharmacist Steven Charles says just because it is a plant does not necessarily mean it’s safe.

“Many drugs are plant sourced but in the wrong doses, the wrong interactions, they could become very bad,” says Steven Charles.

The FDA released a statement saying “as scientific data and adverse event reports have clearly revealed, compounds in Kratom make it so it isn’t just a plant, it’s an opioid. An opioid that’s associated with novel risks because of the variability of how it’s being formulated, sold and used.”

Charles says he hopes the FDA continues to research Kratom before he puts it on his shelves.

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