Zach Walsh, associate professor of psychology at UBC Okanagan.

UBCO Study: Potential aid in combating opioid crisis

UBC Okanagan researcher in Kelowna says a tropical plant may have some answers

As the opioid crisis in Canada reaches alarming new heights, claiming the lives of 2,800 Canadians in 2016, new research suggests that the controversial psychoactive plant kratom could help provide the relief patients, clinicians, and policymakers are looking for.

The study, led by researchers at UBC’s Okanagan campus and the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), reviewed 57 years of international scientific data and determined that kratom has a substantial history of use as an alternative to opioids, and that it may also help manage withdrawal symptoms among people trying to reduce their opioid use.

Kratom is a tropical plant form the coffee family that grows in South East Asia and has been used medicinally for centuries.

However, according to Zach Walsh, associate professor of psychology at UBC Okanagan and co-author on the study, the use of kratom is not without controversy.

“Over the past decade we have seen increasing interest in kratom as an effective way of easing pain and curbing opioid use,” says Walsh. “We are concerned that this potential might be overlooked amongst the hysteria and misinformation that often accompanies the emergence of an unfamiliar plant-based drug that does have some potential for misuse.”

Study lead author Marc Swogger, associate professor in URMC’s department of psychiatry, agrees. He says that clinicians and the public are receiving conflicting or confusing information that seems to be unfounded.

“This study clarifies that there is no good scientific basis for claims that kratom causes psychosis, suicide, or violence, and the available data do not indicate that kratom is a significant public health problem,” says Swogger.

According to Walsh, many individuals are being left behind without effective alternative treatment as many of the current approaches to addressing the opioid epidemic are falling flat.

“We need to explore all options, and our findings suggest it’s time to carefully examine the potential of this ancient plant,” says Walsh. “Our review suggests that kratom is not as powerful or addictive as widely used opioids and is far less likely to lead to fatal overdoses. We would be remiss not to take a closer look.”

The study was published recently in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rockets drop close match to Everett Silvertips

The Rockets lose 3-1 to one of the WHL’s best

Infighting at Kelowna Yacht Club makes it to court

Marc Whittemore, a local lawyer and prominent member of the club, filed a notice of civil claim Feb. 1

Okanagan College basketball wraps up regular season

Coyotes’ squads will finish the season with two games against Capilano

Death Café returns to Okanagan

Vernon, Kelowna and Summerland events toast touchy subject

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Expect delays on Highway 1 west of Golden due to vehicle fire

Expect delays while driving Highway 1 between Golden and Revelstoke. Drive BC… Continue reading

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Semi loses control on Highway 97A in Shuswap

Slippery roads contribute to crash of transport truck carrying tires

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Syrian refugee responds to racism in Canada

Guest columnist Mustafa Zaqrit

Lower Mainland boy shot with pellet gun

Surrey RCMP believe Cloverdale pellet gun incidents are ‘linked’

Most Read