We Have a Pain Epidemic: A Review of A Leaf of Faith

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called A Leaf of Faith. It’s made by the documentary filmmaker (and former wrestler) Chris Bell. I picked this documentary for two reasons. First, I’ve seen other documentaries by Bell, and I quite enjoyed them. Second, the documentary is about the supplement Kratom, which has been proposed as a safe alternative to opioids.

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Bell makes his opinion on the subject clear very early in the documentary. He tries Kratom for the first time, and after years of being in pain (and formerly struggling with opioid addiction), he found he could function normally. As he met other Kratom users, and met with doctors and researchers, and those entrepreneurs importing and selling the plant, it really comes off as the miracle cure to pain. It’s not a drug, so it doesn’t cause a high. It’s natural. It works well to relieve pain, calm anxiety, alleviate depression, and get people off opioids. The plant has been used in Malaysia for 2000 years for healing and religious rituals.

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The problem: the FDA wants to make it illegal. This is largely due to some negative press that Kratom has lead to deaths via overdoses or suicides. A very small amount of deaths, but still enough to make some people very weary. And thus the debate unfolds, those for the use of Kratom and those against.

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I did a small bit of research afterwards to see if it is illegal in Canada. It is… kinda. Much like the grey area in the States, it falls into a grey area here too. It’s not illegal to have the plant on you in whatever form, but it is illegal to sell it. Interesting and a bit frustrating.

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The big question is, does big pharma want to keep the plant off the market? And can people importing it change their tune and try to market it as a supplement? How can we get it to make this “pain epidemic” – yes that’s the phrase Bell uses in the documentary and I don’t think truer words could be said – go away? How can we get it to replace opioids which are incredibly addictive? And should we? The documentary can’t really answer all of these questions but they are good food for thought. I’m interested in trying Kratom just to see if it’s the miracle that I’d never heard of before, or if it’s just some people wanting to use one drug instead of another.

Rating: 4 Stars
Food for thought: find out more about Kratom