Kratom is a plant that’s native to Southeast Asian. Traditionally, it was used to treat various ailments. It provided laborers with pain relief and energy. Over the years, controversy on whether kratom works and how safe it is has hit the news. Some places ban it outright, with others restricting it and putting it on watchlists. Users of kratom report a wide variety of effects and some even claim it cured their addiction to opioids. Is kratom really as bad as the news is making it out to be or is this a miracle plant?
What is Kratom Used For?
Kratom was first documented around the 19th century as a sedation drug. It’s a plant native to Southeast Asia like
It was often taken by day laborers to relieve fatigue, improve productivity, and pains. Many locals used the plant as a recreational drug. It was also used to treat a variety of ailments. These ranged from
- Improve Sexual Function
- Improve Productivity
- Treat addiction
How Does Kratom Work?
Kratom has two main chemical compounds: Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. These chemicals act on opioid receptors or are commonly called agonists. They bind to the opioid receptors but interact with them differently. In normal drug use, the G-protein receptor is bound outside while another acts as a messenger inside the cell. Opioid receptors also recruit beta-arrestin. Beta arrestin is known for causing the negative side effects of drug use. These include respiratory depression and the addictive symptoms associated with drug use. Mitragynine doesn’t recruit beta-arrestin as opioids do. It also doesn’t cause respiratory depression. However, more research is needed on both compounds to reveal their full effects.
Is Kratom Dangerous?
Despite its use in Western medicine as a treatment for various ailments, many countries have banned kratom.
- Malaysia banned the substance in 2003 and has it listed on their Poison Act.
- Kratom was banned in Thailand in 1943.
However, it was placed on their Schedule 5 substance list in the least dangerous category.
- Europe has the substance legal.
- The US briefly had controversy in 2016 with kratom.
The DEA planned to make it a Schedule 1 substance but later decided to further research before adding it to the list.
Kratom does have negative side effects depending on the dosage and can interact with certain medications. Kratom stops medications from quickly getting dissolved by the liver. It extends their time in the body and can cause increased effects of a medicine. Those that take medications that breakdown in the liver may want to consult a doctor before use. When taken regularly, some report dependence. Withdrawal also can happen when stopping kratom making it possibly unsafe.
The U.S. poison control reported an increase of calls about kratom overdoses from 2011 to 2016. In most of these cases, kratom was laced with another drug or not taken alone. As for whether kratom is outright dangerous, it’s not known. More research is needed to determine whether kratom truly is dangerous.
There are many side effects to taking kratom. Many experience positive effects but some will experience negative effects. Many of these side effects come from taking it by mouth. The side effects range from
- Dry Mouth
- Urge To Urinate
- Problems With the Thyroid.
Users who take kratom regularly then stop may experience side effects similar to withdrawal. These side effects include
- Decreased Appetite
- Trouble Sleeping
- Negative Moods
- Watery Eyes
- Muscle Pains
- Muscle Spasms
- Hot Flashes
While kratom’s chemical compounds haven’t been found to cause depressive symptoms, this area of study is still widely unknown. However, there’s a concern the sedating effects of kratom could cause slower breathing, resulting in less oxygen.
Risks of Side Effects
Risks of side effects appear to heighten
- When taking Higher Potencies of Kratom
- If it’s mixed with Psychoactive Substances
- When it’s taken by those with Alcohol Use Disorder
- Users with a History of Heroin
- Certain health conditions.
Short-Term Side Effects
Kratom, like any substance, has both short-term effects and long-term effects. In the first few hours of kratom, users may experience
- Increased Socialness
- Sensitivity To Sunlight
- Dry Mouth
- Increased Urination.
Long-Term Side Effects
Long-term effects of kratom overlap with some of the short-term effects. Users may experience
- Frequent Urination
- Discoloration Of the Cheeks
Signs of Use
There are ways to tell if someone you know is under the influence of kratom. Some of the common side effects include
- Increased Socialness
- Shifts in Mood or Appearance
- Health Changes
- Changes in Appetite.
Myths About Kratom
There are myths about kratom that concern the safety of the substance. While it’s been as crowned lifesaving from addiction. There isn’t any data to support that it can mitigate addiction or addiction symptoms. Most of the ailments it treats haven’t been studied to prove nor disprove kratom’s effect. Kratom is listed as an herbal remedy and many feel it’s safer than medications. However, the FDA hasn’t been able to refute or confirm those claims. The FDA also doesn’t review herbal supplements before they are sold. As a result, you may buy kratom that’s contaminated or not properly list the ingredients.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q#1 – What are the Types of Kratom and Their Effects?
A- There are three main strains of kratom. While they may have different names of the strains, they can be traced back to where the leaves were sourced from. For example, White Borneo or Red Bali. Depending on the supplier and where it’s sourced from, it can have different effects. There’s currently no scientific data to support the effects of each strain and users rely on anecdotal reporting.
Indo kratom is from Indonesia. Indo kratom is considered one of the least stimulating strains despite some types having energizing effects. This strain is known for feelings of relaxation, pain relief, anxiety relief, and promoting feelings of well-being.
Thai kratom is from Thailand. The green and white strains are more stimulating. They create euphoric feelings while the red provides pain relief.
Bali kratom is from Indonesia. It’s red and users claim it’s the closest to an opioid-like effect.
Maeng da is the most potent and longer-lasting of the kratom strains. It originated in Thailand, but Indonesia and Malaysia have their strains as well. Users report pain relief, increased energy, stimulating effects, and talkative after taking it.
Borneo kratom comes from Borneo. Compared to other strains, it’s considered to be more sedating and is used to treat anxiety and stress.
Malaysian strains are considered to have a more balanced effect between stimulating and sedative. Users report increased energy, pain relief, better moods, and more focus.
Green Malay comes from Malaysia. Users report pain relief, energy, and focus on low doses but sedating effects at high doses. Many use this strain for anxiety.
The color strains of kratom don’t vary. There are three main types and they will only vary in strength based on where they were sourced from. White vein kratom isn’t common among beginners due to the taste. It’s considered to be the most potent strain outside of Maeng Da. It has increased energy and a mild stimulant effect.
Red vein strain is one of the most popular strains of kratom. It’s known for its sedative and pain relief effects. It’s the most tolerant of the strains compared to white and green.
Green vein strain is considered the middle ground between white and red. It has simulating effects like the white vein strain, but it can also increase focus and productivity.
Sometimes you will see “yellow” kratom and that is due to the drying technique and is a form of white vein kratom. It does have a different effect than the white with users comparing it to Green Malay.
Q#2– What is the Right Dosage of Kratom?
There are many factors to consider for the right dosage. Many users take a small amount of kratom and see how it makes them feel. They use that baseline to determine if they need more or less next time. On average, most take between one to five grams. Typically, beginners start at one gram. Some users take higher dosages but will experience more or serious side effects after five grams.
Q#3- How Long Does Kratom Last?
Kratom begins working within five to ten minutes of consumption. The effects last for up to two hours with a low to moderate dosage but can last up to five hours with high dosages.
Q#4- Ways to Take Kratom?
Kratom is taken in several ways. You can take tablets, capsules, gum, tinctures, drank as a tea, smoked, or powder form.
Q#5- How to Buy
Kratom is sold Online, in a Gas Station, and Head or Vape shops. The best method for buying kratom is online. The reputable online TGM store will have 3rd party lab results showing any impurities in their product and the potency. They often have more types of kratom and are more knowledgeable than gas stations and vape shops. Often, non-online purchases aren’t quality kratom and tend to be less effective or contaminated. Online shopping is considered the safest.
Can I Get Addicted to Kratom?
Some users report feeling dependent on kratom after taking it for some time. They also report feeling withdrawal symptoms when they stop. Kratom does have a risk of dependence, withdrawal, and tolerance. Long-term users of kratom can build a tolerance to the substance. This means to get the same effect they will need to take more of it. Kratom can be abused like any other substance and you may experience effects from that.
Tolerance is when you take a substance and need more of it to get the same effect. Kratom has the potential to be tolerance-building. This varies based on dosage and frequency of use. Yet, many users report this even starting at low doses. It’s not known how long kratom stays in the body, so the proper dosage can be difficult. Many factors will determine how long it stays in the body. These include your age, how often you use, what type of kratom you are taking, your body fat, how much you eat and drink, genetics, and metabolic rate.
Those that abuse kratom can become addicted. Signs for addiction are different from everyone but there are classic signs you can look out for.
- Trouble stopping or Cutting Back
- Loss of interest in Hobbies, Social life, or Job
- Spending most of their time Obtaining, Using, or Recovering from the Substance
- Mood changes
- Sleeping pattern changes
- Weight or activity level changes
- Financial changes
- Change in friends
Kratom withdrawal is reported by many users. Most of these users take large doses of kratom many times a day. While withdrawal is felt, it’s much milder than opioid withdrawal symptoms.
- Trouble sleeping
- Hot flashes
- Mood changes
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Muscle pain/spasms
- Decreased Appetite
How to Seek Help
Many use kratom for different reasons. Some use it for pain and become dependent on it or are afraid to stop and the pain returns. There are pain management techniques that don’t involve medication and ones that do. Speaking with a healthcare provider can best direct you to your next course of action. Others take kratom to help with mental disorders like anxiety and depression. These are treatable and can be managed with proper care from a psychologist or psychiatrist. People that take kratom for addiction or have become addicted should seek help from a rehabilitation center or doctor. Healthcare professionals have the knowledge and experience to help get you on the path to recovery.