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American Kratom Association United Nations Presentation Focuses on Kratom as Critical Harm Reduction Tool

VIENNA, AUSTRIA – The American Kratom Association (AKA) last Thursday, March 16, 2023 hosted an event, “Kratom: The Science Speaks” during the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UN CND) 66th Session in Vienna, Austria. During the event, a team of experts testified before UN decision makers about the latest science and research surrounding the safety of the herbal supplement, kratom. AKA Senior Fellow Mac Haddow moderated the event, which was livestreamed worldwide.

Taken from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree, kratom primarily comes from Indonesia, Thailand, and other parts of Southeast Asia. People typically use kratom by swallowing raw plant matter in capsule or powder form, mixing kratom powder into food or drinks, brewing the leaves as a tea, or taking liquid kratom extract. The AKA estimates there are upwards of 15 million kratom consumers in the United States of America.

Although safely used for centuries outside of America, there has been a growing amount of misinformation about the safety and efficacy of kratom in the global health community due to outdated science. This event focused on presenting the emerging science of kratom, much of which directly contradicts the FDA narrative on kratom formed last decade about it being a dangerous and highly addictive substance.

“Critics insist on painting kratom as the enemy, but the science continues to show kratom as an essential harm reduction tool, and it is imperative that the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs have an opportunity to hear from the experts conducting the research,” said Haddow.

During the presentation, UN officials received presentations from:

  • Dr. Marilyn Huestis, former Chief of Chemistry and Drug Metabolism at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • Dr. Kirsten Smith, Research Fellow at the NIDA
  • Dr. Jack Henningfield of Johns Hopkins University
  • Dr. Christopher McCurdy, Medicinal Chemist and Behavioral Pharmacologist at the University of Florida

Dr. Huestis released findings of a recent study she conducted comparing withdrawals of opioids and kratom, reporting that there were no signs of withdrawal or adverse effects of healthy individuals who took kratom for several consecutive days. “This data is important because they shed light on the concern of potential mitragynine [kratom] overdoses,” stated Dr. Huestis, “and as I (demonstrated) we had no adverse effects on healthy people at these doses.”

Dr. Huestis also noted that adulteration of other substances taken with kratom is a major issue and that it is much preferable to regulate kratom quality and prohibit adulteration than to ban kratom and risk the increased potential for opioid overdose deaths.

Dr. McCurdy, presented on the therapeutic potential, stating “kratom has potential to replace several medications used during detoxification (opioid, adrenergic, analgesic and anxiolytic)” and “apossible solution to the opioid epidemic could be from nature.” However, “the lack of standardized product has prevented rigorous clinical trials on kratom”.

In totality, the presentations showed and referenced clinical trials and scientific data that demonstrates pure kratom is safe, that it has broad market acceptance, and overall consumers are using kratom responsibly. Furthermore, kratom’s addiction profile is more like caffeine than opioids, and the FDA’s public position is wrong as it doesn’t reflect the latest science.

The AKA strongly encourages local and national policy makers to watch the full presentation and connect with the AKA and the panelists for more information.

Video of the entire event can be viewed on the home page of

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