Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a native tree found in Southeast Asia. The leaves of this tree are what are consumed because they contain a chemical compound called Mitragynine. This compound works in the same way opioids do.
Kratom is a popular herbal remedy because it has several benefits, such as pain-relieving effects, depression, and anxiety.
Kratom can be unsafe in some situations, and because of this, it’s banned in some states and countries. There are some serious safety concerns, and the US FDA has continued to warn consumers to avoid using Kratom-based products.
How Do People Use Kratom?
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Since it was first discovered, Kratom has been used both as a stimulant— to improve concentration, increase mental alertness and physical energy— and an analgesic to remedy chronic pain. Some users have reported that Kratom helps them during their withdrawal of opioid painkillers. However, there isn’t sufficient research evidence published to show how Kratom is effective for opioid withdrawal.
The main active ingredients of Kratom are two alkaloids—Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. There is evidence proving how these alkaloids have analgesic properties and anti-inflammatory properties.
The plant’s green leaves are usually dried, crushed, or powdered. You can also find fortified Kratom powder, generally light brown or green, containing extracts from other plants.
Kratom is also found in capsule form, paste, and tablet form. It can also be brewed into tea.
Stimulant Effects of Kratom on the Body
According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), taking a few grams is a sufficient dose to induce stimulant effects. These effects usually happen within 10 minutes after you ingest Kratom and will last between 30 minutes to an hour. These effects will include:
- Reduced motor function
Sedative Effects of Kratom on the Body
Taking a larger dose— between 10 and 15 grams of dried Kratom can give you soothing effects. The effects may range from calmness to euphoria and could last up to six hours. These effects are similar to opioids, making users feel calm, euphoric, and tired.
Some people also use Kratom for opioid withdrawal. Doses higher than 15 grams can make the user feel very tired and sedate them to the point of losing consciousness.
Side Effects of Kratom on the Body
Kratom is often used for its short-term effects. For instance, within 10 minutes of ingesting it, users can feel euphoric, and they’ll last about 90 minutes. While there are positive short-term effects of consuming Kratom, there can also be adverse effects that become long-term with continuous Kratom use.
According to Healthline, one of Kratom’s most common side effects is constipation. Continuous use of Kratom will cause your bowel movements to become irregular and difficult to pass. This can lead to painful defecation. This may not be a severe condition, but it can be somewhat uncomfortable for any individual.
Kratom also has some effects on the liver with continued use. Some of the most common effects of Kratom on the liver may include toxicity, jaundice, and dark urine. Your liver can shut down if it’s flooded with more drugs than it can metabolize.
Long-term use of Kratom may also cause a loss of appetite, significant weight loss, and even a severe condition such as anorexia. This eating disorder entails the restriction of caloric intake, resulting in dangerous and extreme weight loss. This can be very hazardous to the individuals’ health and can even lead to death in severe cases.
Other side effects of Kratom include hyperpigmentation on the user’s cheeks and insomnia. Hyperpigmentation occurs when some patches of the skin become darker than the standard pigment on other areas of the skin. Kratom users can also experience sweating, nausea, and itching in response to ingesting it.
The long-term effects of Kratom are yet to be extensively studied, so the true extent of chronic, long–term use of Kratom is yet to be known. These severe side-effects may be why Kratom may be banned in several countries, including Thailand. The potential addiction to Kratom because of long-term repeated use may be another reason.
Is Kratom addictive?
Kratom, just like any opioid, could be addictive when abused, and people may undergo some withdrawals symptoms such as:
- Muscle spasms
Is Kratom Safe To Use?
Most Kratom users use it as an alternative to prescription pain medication such as morphine, and there’s very little research showing how it affects the body.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved its use on a medical scale. They also do not monitor or regulate Kratom regarding dosage requirements and purity.
Final ThoughtsKratom may be legal in the U.S and several other countries. Still, it poses some severe threats, especially to people who have a pre-existing medical condition or those who take medication.
And though it may have some benefits, there isn’t enough research to support it, and you should exercise caution when taking it. Before taking Kratom, be aware of the risks and chat with your physician first.