Though the term “Kratom” may sound unfamiliar to many, the use of Kratom herb for drug addiction treatment is not new. Many individuals use this herbal substance for withdrawal from opium dependence. After reported positive benefits of kratom for opioid addiction treatment, the US government legalized this substance in the country.
But a recent report from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reveals the “fatal consequences” of using kratom. The report states that individuals with opioid addiction now prefer kratom as a substitute to opioid pills, which is highly dangerous.
Mr. David Sack of Elements Behavioral Health says that using kratom for opioid treatment without proper supervision can be disastrous. He adds that no authorized research or science proves the strengths of kratom leaves for addiction treatment.
Moreover, FDA Commissioner stated that kratom might contribute to develop the opioid epidemic.
To prove its claim, FDA revealed 36 deaths due to kratom use. Some of the victims were:
- One life succumbed to lungs bleeding caused by hemorrhagic pulmonary edema due to kratom overdose.
- A man died of sharp mitragynine toxicity. Kratom is packed with Mitragynine substance.
- A young man’s autopsy report revealed the presences of kratom and depression medicines in his body.
Considering FDA’s warning, the above kratom-related death facts, and claims by people who swear by kratom’s benefits, the question you may ask is:
“Is kratom safe or not?”
Let’s read on to know more.
What is Kratom?
Kratom comes from a tropical evergreen tree, which is native to South Asian Countries, such as Thailand and Malaysia. Its leaves have been used as a stimulant or sedative for centuries to boost energy, improve mood and relieve pain.
The substance is not an opioid (kratom belongs to coffee family), but it works like one.
Kratom is legal in most American states except Indiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. Though the Drug Enforcement Administration attempted to outlaw kratom, the outcry from the supporting groups forced them to withdraw the ban.
However, kratom is strictly prohibited in Australia, Thailand, Malaysia and many European Union countries.
Why People Use Kratom?
Individuals who advocate kratom say it assists with chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. Many use this organic substance for recreation. Dr. Sack said that kratom offers opioid-like euphoria effects. Though kratom and opioid have different chemical structure, both connect the same receptors in our brain.
Important to note: Dr. Sack said that taking too much kratom could have serious consequences, including seizures and liver damage. People who solely relied on DIY kratom detox are more likely to face relapse. A full-fledged treatment involves going to rehab and having a professional drug treatment guide.
How does Kratom work?
Alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are two primary active ingredients of kratom. Many studies have shown that these alkaloids have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and muscle relaxant effects. That’s why kratom is commonly used to soothe fibromyalgia symptoms.
Dark green leaves of this herb come in dried and crushed or powdered form. Kratom powders are either green or light brown in color. You can find it as capsule, tablet, and paste also. In America, kratom is used as a tea for opioid withdrawal and pain management.
Low Doses of Kratom
Low doses of kratom act as a stimulant and have effects similar to amphetamine. People who take a low dose of kratom report increased energy and alertness level, boosted sex drive, more sociability and reduced appetite. Possible negative effects of low dose may include tremors, coordination issues, and anxiety.
High Doses of Kratom
High kratom doses offer effects similar to opioids, and this is why addicts turn to this herb to replace opioid. Effects of high doses may include euphoria, pain relief, and sedation and cough suppression. On the other hand, common negative effects of high kratom doses are nausea, itching, and constipation.
The commercial version of kratom is even riskier than the organic substance. For example, krypton is a marketed version of kratom, which contains the herb as well as other chemicals that trigger brain’s opioid receptors. Consuming krypton can lead to respiratory failure leading to death.
People who take high doses of this herb may vomit and choke while asleep. Since, kratom leads to insomnia, driving or operating machinery after taking it may be life-threatening. Also, pregnant women should avoid it completely.
There is no FDA-approved benefit of kratom. But it doesn’t mean that substance doesn’t offer therapeutic benefits. Just keep the doses low and consume it under supervision.