Known as Mitragyna speciosa, Kratom is a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family. Its native to Southeast Asia. Popularly used in herbal medicine since the 19th C, when it was consumed as tea to overcome fatigue and improve productivity. Its leaves were also known to be chewed. These leaves were commonly used for ceremonial purposes, to aid with pain and issues like diarrhea. As a substitute for opium. It does have some opioid properties and has stimulant-like effects. Some have even used it to treat opioid withdrawl symptoms.
These leaves consist of two compounds mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing sedation, pleasure, and decreased pain when taken in high doses. Lower doses cause alertness instead of sedation.
However, research is ongoing regarding Kratom’s effectiveness and safe treatment for opiod addiction.Although people may use kratom to try to overcome opioid addiction, kratom itself may be addictive.
Some may build up a tolerance to Kratom (they may need higher doses to achieve the same effect), long-term users of Kratom may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it.
Some studies suggest that high doses of Kratom may be less likely than high doses of Opioids to be fatal. Typically, they have involved the use of kratom in combination with opioids or various prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Some deaths in people have been linked to kratom.
Reported side effects of Kratom include anxiety, irritability, and increased aggression, which may be related to the Kratom’s stimulant effects; sedation, nausea, constipation, and itching, which may be related to its opioid-like effects.
Increased pigmentation of the cheeks, tremor, loss of appetite, weight loss, and psychosis have been seen in long-term kratom users. Seizures have been reported in users of high doses of kratom.
We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. This article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider.