Kratom Science Podcast
Last week we had the pleasure of having a chat with Brian Gallagher on his Kratom Science Podcast. It was an awesome experience getting to share a platform that many of the greatest minds in kratom have appeared on. Before we spoke with Brian, guests like Dr. Abisheak Sharma, Dr. Oliver Grundmann, and dozens of other well accredited scientists appeared before us.
On the whole, the conversation stayed within our wheelhouse: the advantages of kratom tea!
Early in the conversation, our co-founder Soren Shade talked about growing up in rural Appalachia. First, he went on to talk about how his early understanding of the poverty, ill-health, and crime in his small town was incorrectly said to be the result of “drugs.”
The mainstream media likes to talk about how Appalachia, West Virginia, and America-at-large are in the midst of an “opioid epidemic.” Moreover, Soren spoke about how he, too, took this headline to be true. Even as a primary observer of the situation at home.
Dr. Carl Hart and the Lifting of the Veil
His perspective changed in Dr. Carl Hart’s famous Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior class at Columbia University, where he met Top Tree co-founder Sam Weber. In this class, Dr. Hart detailed statistics showing that opioids were credited for killing many more souls than was actually the case. However, of the reported opioid overdoses, a vast majority were in combination with other substances, like alcohol or other sedatives.
But even those statistics were not satisfying, as toxicology reports are often inconclusive. (Coroners, for example, are not required to have any sort of medical degree. In some states they are elected officials!)
In short, nobody knows how many people die of opioids each year due to the short fallings of autopsies and the fact that other substances are often not reported when co-present. But that’s really not the point.
Don’t Overlook the Social Context
What Dr. Hart instilled in his students was to look past the easy scapegoat of drugs for all of society’s problems. To explain, Soren went on to talk about the rising atmosphere of despair in his hometown. Much of the jobs in the “rust belt” have been shipped off to foreign countries or have been automated. While others have laid off workers to account for a general economic decline.
This slow and steady fading of the flow of capital to these small towns has resulted in a decline of population, education, prospects, and culture. High schools are consistently reporting falling scores in tests. Adult and juvenile homelessness is rising. Deaths and crimes of “despair” have skyrocketed.
Flipping the Argument Upside Down
The popular spin up of these foreboding current events has been that they are the direct result of the rising use of psychoactive substances. As such, Dr. Carl Hart’s hypothesis is that the vast majority of drug users have overwhelmingly positive experiences.
As for the tide of despair washing over the country? That has less to do with the alcohol, pills, or combustible vegetable matter that adults use to feel better than does the absence of economic opportunity and lack of a sense of purpose plaguing these communities.
The Meeting of Top Tree’s Founders
While the knowledge that Dr. Hart imparted is priceless, it cannot be overstated how important the friendships forged in that class were. In fact, Sam and Soren, the co-founders of Top Tree Herbs, solidified their friendship in Dr. Hart’s class. It was there that they were taught how to scrutinize scientific literature for the facts of the matter.
Soren stated in his conversation with Brian that their ability to recognize the stark difference between traditional use off kratom and how it was being used in the United States came from being in Dr. Hart’s class. Simply, kratom has almost always been used as a tea, while in the US the micronized powder of the leaves are swallowed whole!
Brian and Soren then moved on to discuss the latest season of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, which Soren helped produce.
While they didn’t spend much time discussing the latest season, Brian did ask him which of the episodes was his favorite. Soren shared that “ULTRA LSD” is his favorite visually, and that “Synthetic Toad Venom Machine” is the most interesting conceptually, drawing on reading he was first exposed to in Dr. Hart’s class.
Making Pamphlets and Relationships
Soren then brought up the recent reissuing of the 1983 “Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert” pamphlet. This reissuing by Hamilton, Soren, and a number of other producers for the show has gone on to raise over $200,000 for the Micheal J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research.
The relationship that Soren formed with the small, employee-owned print shop which made the pamphlets for them has persisted. CREAM, the print shop, has dedicated a section of their warehouse as a clean space, and now helps fulfill and ship all the orders placed for Top Tree Herbs. (Rumor has it that specialty Top Tree X CREAM Apparel is on the way!)
Don’t be a “tosser,” Drink Kratom Tea!
From there, the conversation converged on the topic which Soren is most invested in. That is, making a good cup of kratom tea. As you’d know from reading this blog on TopTreeHerbs.com, kratom tea is best made from kratom tea bags. This simple realization came from scrutinizing Dr. Oliver Grundmann’s 2017 study of over 8000 kratom consumers in the US. This survey revealed that almost half of the kratom users make a beverage from their kratom. Of that, over 10% take it as a tea already. So why were there no tea bags!?
The fact that a majority of kratom consumers, including our co-founders at Top Tree, swallowed kratom powder and experienced some stomach discomfort compelled us to develop the first crushed-leaf kratom tea bags.
Hinting Towards the Future
The conversation covers some more specifics, such as the science behind kratom tea, and an upcoming survey with Dr. Grundmann! We encourage you, if you haven’t already listened, to throw it on the next time you have an hour to spare!
Finally, any thanks to Brian Gallagher over at the Kratom Science Podcast for having us on!