Drug Abuse Expert, Dr. Jack Henningfield, Warns Against Banning Kratom


The American Kratom Association held their press conference in Atlanta, Georgia earlier today. The event was hosted by Roswell, Georgia native, Dave Herman, the chair of the AKA. In attendance, was Dr. Jack Henningfield a world-renowned authority on addiction and drug abuse. Dr. Henningfield is currently the vice president of Research, Health Policy, and Abuse Liability at Pinney Associates. He was formerly chief of the Clinical Pharmacology Research Branch of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Also  a professor of Behavioral Biology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, his credentials are impeccable. Dr. Henningfield wrote the 8-factor analysis on the safety, abuse and addictive potential as well as potential for public health hazard that was influential in stalling the attempted scheduling of kratom last year.

Dr. Henningfield blames the reliance on “junk science” for the FDA’s concern over kratom. Even compared to other dietary ingredients, supplements or over-the-counter drugs, kratom has an exceptional safety profile. Hundreds of years of safe use and nearly 200 research studies published, many  of those in the past few years point towards the effectiveness and safety of the plant. Poison control centers in the US receive around 100,000 calls each for antihistamines, acetaminophen and antidepressants every year. The FDA announced tobacco, responsible for 480,000 deaths, as the leading preventable cause of death. Laundry pods lead to hundreds of deaths per year and a recent study on energy drinks found it may be implicated in not only overdose deaths but multiple other health hazards. Despite this, there seems to be no public outcry or rush to ban these products that are killing people.

When studying drugs known to be dangerous you end up with recorded fatalities. Kratom has been tested for decades in on laboratory animals without one recorded death. There is not one single fatality where kratom is found in the system where other drugs or conditions more likely to have caused death aren’t apparent. Much has been made of kratom’s potential for binding to opiate receptors, but as Dr. Henningfield points out, so does chocolate, coffee and St. John’s Wort. With 90 people dying per day of opiates and opioids, you would think the FDA and DEA would be eager for any potential help. Dr. Henningfield is afraid that the FDA may be making a deadly error in moving towards restricting kratom for the thousands who feel it improves their life.

We have a fight in front of us and our work is cut out for us, but we’re not going away. The tactic of endless pressure, endlessly applied propelled the kratom community to a literally unprecedented victory last year. I don’t think that was a fluke. Stay strong, kratom warriors.