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

Lake Country joins celebration of local government professionals

The district joined communities across the province by planting a new tree

Kootnekoff: Nervous about random drug testing?

Are you an employer with workers performing safety sensitive activities, but without… Continue reading

Okanagan FC kicks off regular season Saturday night

OKFC starts their inaugural season of the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) in Penticton

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Severe thunderstorm watch

Environment Canada forecasts thunder, cloud and rain for one more day

PPC leader wants to appeal to voters’ intelligence

Maxine Bernier says his right-wing populist political movement differs from that of U.S. President Donald Trump and other similar European leaders

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

Highway 1 closed east of Revelstoke

Highway 1 is closed east of Revelstoke near Canyon Hot Springs due… Continue reading

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

Okanagan woman celebrates 101 years young on the back of a Harley Davidson

Last Saturday Violet Madeline celebrated 101 years. A member of the Lower… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Most Read