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Breaking Down the 2018 Kratom Documentary: A Leaf of Faith

The Leaf of Faith is a Chris Bell film that aims to explore the facts on kratom. In this documentary, Chris explores the origins of kratom, how people use it in their daily lives, and how legit its effects are.

The documentary also tackles one of the biggest problems in the U.S., which is overdosing on prescription drugs. Chris explored how kratom can help reduce the alarming number of victims and what is stopping kratom from helping these patients get over their prescription drug addictions.

Drugs, Deaths, and Overdosing in the U.S.

Americans make up 99% of the total population that uses hydrocodone, the popular and powerful drug for muscle discomfort. An estimated number of 91 Americans fall victim daily to an overdose of highly addictive and dangerous drugs such as this.

Doctors even regularly prescribe some of these substances to help patients combat discomfort. However, taking these meds often comes with the serious consequence of addiction. In fact, it was later found out that many new heroin users started with prescription meds.


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In 2016, 28 individuals overdosed in only five hours. From 2019, the number just kept increasing. Until 2021, the National Institutes of Health recorded that over 106,000 people passed away from overdosing on prescription drugs.

Pro Wrestling and the Drug Abuse

A study on the wrestling industry showed that 65 wrestlers died before reaching 50 years old. The initial blame landed on steroids, but former professional wrestler Horshu says otherwise.

He claims that the reason behind the deaths is not steroids but the “wrong combination of drugs.” Some wrestlers would often drink alcohol and take drugs to relieve muscle discomfort. Former WWE Champ Brock Lesnar even joked that Vicodin and vodka are his closest friends and enemies at the same time.

In the kratom documentary, Horshu confirms that he had been using kratom as an alternative medicine to address muscle discomfort after his stroke.

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Kratom Use and Origin in Malaysia

Chris Bell interviewed Darshan Singh, Ph.D. from the University Sains Malaysia. His research explores the reasons why people use kratom.

He states that, just like the U.S., Malaysia has a problem with addiction. However, many kratom users in Malaysia actually use the herb to self-treat cases of drug and alcohol abuse.

He also added that compared to those using drugs like heroin and morphine, kratom users don’t engage in crimes or risky behaviors. Rather, kratom users take the plant for its medicinal properties, much like Southeast Asian natives who have been using it for over 100 years. All this time, kratom users have not displayed similar behavior to those who take Schedule I drugs.

The Great Attempt to Ban Kratom in the U.S.

Despite the many positive reviews on kratom and the almost nonexistent abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wanted it classified as a Schedule I drug. According to DEA Head Chuck Rosenberg, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wanted to ban kratom because of the following reasons:

  • It has no medicinal value.
  • It has a high potential for abuse.

Rosenberg and the FDA also believe that kratom is responsible for 15 deaths connected with kratom overdose. Thus, they expressed that banning kratom was a matter of national emergency.

Kratom users weren’t about to let the ban happen. Many were quick to voice out their opinion on the matter, including celebrity Joe Rogan.

However, many were also supportive of the ban, including the Broward County Mayor at the time, Kristin Jacobs. According to her, people who support kratom are addicts, with the added claim that kratom is similar to heroin.

image of the great attempt to ban kratom in the u.s

In September 2016, kratom advocates managed to gather over 120,000 signatures in their petition to stop the ban. A crew of pro-kratom protesters also went to Washington to show their support for the herb related to coffee.

Here, Chris Bell interviewed some protesters about their stand on kratom. Many shared stories of how they went from using addictive prescriptions for severe muscle discomfort to using kratom as a more effective alternative to managing bodily aches.

Later on, the DEA asked for the public’s comments on the kratom issue. They set up a website where people could post their input. It didn’t take long for kratom advocates to send in about 5,000 comments, sharing their experiences with kratom.

In the end, kratom users sent over 23,000 comments on top of hundreds of angry phone calls urging the DEA to leave kratom alone. And thanks to that, kratom continues to be an unregulated substance at a federal level.

Kratom Addiction and the Case of Ian Mautner

Anti-kratom folks always associate kratom with addiction, with their best reference being the case of Ian Mautner. According to his mother Linda, Ian stole from her multiple times to support his addiction before proceeding to take his own life.

However, the autopsy report showed that Ian had other substances in his system. Though there was definitely kratom present, there were also traces of anti-depressants.

In the end, it was impossible to pin the entire blame on kratom, adding to the fact that Ian was also in and out of rehab for substance abuse. Considering all these factors, kratom advocates insisted that kratom was not to blame.

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Kratom Terminology: Drug Vs. Food Supplement

Chris also asked Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., president of the National Products Association, for his opinion on the matter. According to Fabricant, there are different legal processes for goods marketed as a drug and those sold as a supplement.

Depending on one’s purpose for kratom, the legal process for manufacture and licensing will largely vary depending on the following:

  • If a person were to market kratom products as a drug for muscle discomfort, the process before it hits the shelves would be longer, more expensive, and more complicated.
  • If kratom were to be marketed as an herbal supplement to simply boost the user’s mood, the process would be far easier and faster.

Fabricant said that if people were keen on using kratom as a treatment for addiction or muscle discomfort, they’d have to do more research and follow legal procedures.

The Research on Kratom

With this newfound knowledge, Chris decided to look for funding to support kratom research. Kelly Dunn, the owner of Urban Ice Organics, would fund the initial round of research, while Dr. Chris McCurdy would work on it.

Some of the questions this research hopes to answer include:

  • What is the limit before potential addiction?
  • What will dosage be like for different patients?
  • How will doctors administer kratom to patients?

By achieving guidelines for standardization, they’ll be able to give correct dosages according to the effects the patients need.

Locals in Southeast Asia used the herb for many years, yet there were hardly any documented cases of kratom overdose. With solid research and informative videos like the Leaf of Faith documentary, we can hopefully educate more parts of the world about the benefits of kratom.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is kratom?

Kratom is an evergreen plant related to coffee. This naturally grows in Southeast Asia, where people have been using it for medicinal purposes for many years.

Is kratom legal in the U.S. in 2023?

Kratom is still federally unregulated in the U.S. in 2023. However, some states and communities have already banned the substance. Make sure you check kratom’s legality in your area before attempting to buy, sell, or use kratom.

Is kratom safe?

Southeast Asians have used kratom for decades, with no reports of deaths or overdosing caused purely by the naturally-occurring herb. There is currently no conclusive evidence proving that kratom is dangerous. When taken in recommended dosages, kratom does not have adverse effects.

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