(ActivistPostIn the so-called freest country in the world, it is an unfortunate reality when human beings are thrown into cages simply for possessing or ingesting a plant. It is even more a tragedy when those individuals locked away are sick or ill and when the plant they are being locked away for possessing could have aided, controlled or even cured their affliction.

More and more Americans, despite the panic of organizations like the FDA and Big Pharma, have been turning to natural supplements or natural substances such as cannabis to provide them with the treatment and assistance they need in order to feel well day to day. While those seeking help from cannabis run the risk of imprisonment, the destruction of their lives and even death – not from the plant but from law enforcement personnel and the legal system – there are some alternative natural substances and plants which have grown in popularity. One of these substances is known as Mitragyna speciosa or kratom.

Mitragyna speciosa aka kratom is a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family which is native to Southeast Asia. Although not an opiate itself, kratom can be used to manage pain and anxiety as well as alcohol dependence. It is possible to use kratom recreationally but the effects are generally too mild to classify it as anything resembling a drug.

Kratom, although not an opiate, does function in a similar manner to opiates, i.e., attaching to activating opioid receptors. Studies in mice have actually demonstrated impressive results in overcoming addiction to cocaine. Many kratom users have also sung the plant’s praises in regards to heroin addiction. Kratom users also claim that the substance is an excellent substitute for prescription pain medication as well as the addiction that comes with prescribed opiates.

Unfortunately, however, kratom has not escaped the long and ever-growing arm of the American police state. Fresh on the heels of the CDC labeling kratom as an emerging “public health threat,” the notoriously fascistic U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has filed a notice of intent to not only list it as a controlled substance, but the DEA is planning to add it to the most restrictive classification possible.

Mitragyna speciosa, aka kratom, and its two primary constituents, Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine are going to be placed onto Schedule 1 temporarily beginning on September 30th.

This information comes from a filing from the DEA on August 30th, but the full announcement is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on August 31st.

Americans who have used kratom to deal with their pain, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and to wean themselves off (and stay off) heroin, cocaine, and alcohol are now left in the lurch as the DEA continues its jihad against . . . well, we are not really sure what the DEA is launching a jihad against. Freedom? Intoxication? Personal choice?

There is now another new substance appearing, a kratom alternative known as Kra Thum Khok, also known asMitragyna hirsuta, a tall tree grown in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam that is related toMitragyna speciosa. The plant produces similar effects to kratom – both sedating and stimulating – but users report the need to use it in much higher doses. The main active constituent of Kra Thum Khok is Mitraphylline, which is chemically related to Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine which are themselves found in Mitragyna speciosa.

While many are flocking to Kra Thum Khok, we can’t help but wonder how long it will be before the DEA brings some American-style freedom down upon the users and distributors of this substances like they have done with kratom.

After all, despite the crackdown on kratom, there is actually very little study of the substance. While natural health advocates promote the benefits of the herb, and government agencies panic over the next crack epidemic, the fact is there is very little research-based evidence to say whether or not kratom is safe, effective, dangerous or placebo.

As Dr. Ed Boyer, a professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and a scientist who has studied kratom told CNN,

“So, are they banning a substance that has potential clinical utility? Possibly. Are they banning a substance that has profound risk to people? Possibly. I think what I would prefer is to see somebody not ban it, but at least do some research to see how bad the risk is or how good the benefit is.”

Dr. Boyer is right when he suggests a reasonable approach to the issue meaning doing the relevant research and actually waiting until the research has been conducted before making policy decisions on the issue. But we would also suggest another reasonable approach – conduct the research, analyze the results, disseminate the information and allow adults to decide what they put into their bodies.

Left to its own devices and free from the red-faced pursed-lipped war-on-druggers, kratom may be part of an answer to America’s drug problem and its world-renowned epidemic of sickness, chronic illness, anxiety and depression.

This article (What You’re Not Being Told About the DEA’s Kratom Ban) by Brandon Turbeville originally appeared on ActivistPost.com and is licensed Creative Commons. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/ThorPorre.