If you suffer from chronic pain, then you know how hard it can be to get it under control. Going through physical therapy, trying all the different exercises; trying new medications to only find that they either don't touch your pain or have side effects that prevent you from doing anything other than lay in bed, as well as multiple other methods all while trying to get through life and not feel tired all the time. It can feel like an uphill battle with no end in sight.
What most people don't realize is that there are highly effective, natural options for managing your pain. Western modern medicine is not the only option; one little-known and effective alternative is kratom, a plant that has been used as medicine in eastern regions for centuries.
What Is Kratom?
Kratom is an evergreen tree which is indigenous to Southeast Asia, in countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. According to ethanaturals.com, it has been traditionally used for hundreds of years to relieve a cough and to help with muscle soreness and fatigue caused by regularly performing strenuous labor.
Kratom has also been used to elevate the user's mood, and to alleviate anxiety and depression. It is also known to help with an overall wellness, and ease symptoms of diabetes, high blood pressure, and diarrhea.
Originally, people would use it by chewing the leaves from the kratom tree, which is scientifically known as mitragyna speciosa. The leaves could also be brewed for tea in the morning to provide an extra energy kick before the day gets started. Nowadays you can find it as a pill, gum, powder, or in liquid form so that you can take it the same way as you would any other medicine.
How Can a Plant Help My Pain?
The way kratom works is by producing alkaloids in the body, which have various medicinal effects. The main alkaloid produced by kratom is called Mitragynine, and it is known for being able to ease a cough, relieve diarrhea, and help with symptoms of malaria.
Another powerful alkaloid that kratom produces is called 7-hydroxymitragynine, which is known for being an excellent analgesic, or pain reliever; this means using kratom for pain relief will be very effective. Other alkaloids that the body will produce after you take kratom act as muscle relaxers, immune system stimulators, and promoters of blood flow to the brain, which improves overall brain function and health.
In short, kratom is a powerful pain reliever, without the side effects caused by opioid medications, and is more effective than over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol. In fact, it is even used to treat opioid withdrawal, because it is an opioid receptor agonist. This means that it attaches to the receptors in the brain that receive opioid molecules, which makes the symptoms of withdrawal much more manageable, or relieves them completely.
Dr. Oliver Grundmann, who is a clinical associate professor from the Colleges of Pharmacy and Nursing at the University of Florida, talked with Practical Pain Management about what he has learned about using kratom for pain.
He notes that kratom use does not produce the same side effects that you typically see associated with opioid uses, such as constipation and respiratory depression. This is when your breathing becomes slower and more shallow, leading to less oxygen intake.
Dr. Grundmann also reports that while users of kratom do not experience the same side effects as with opioids, they do experience similar pain relief.
Different Kinds of Kratom and Their Unique Uses
Like many other plants and herbs, there are different kinds of strains of kratom. Deren Eaton, who aims to provide scientific research about plant-based herbal remedies on his website, has compiled a list of what he has learned to be the best kinds of kratom to use for pain.
One of the strains Eaton mentions is called Maeng Da kratom, which has been bred over time to have a high concentration of Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, the alkaloids produced by kratom which are most known for pain relief. It also gives the user an energy boost, so it can be taken during the day.
Maeng Da kratom is most frequently used by sufferers of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and pain associated with cancer.
Another strain, cited by Eaton to be one of the most popular ones, is called Bali kratom. Why is it so popular? Because the red vein variety of Bali kratom has been shown to relieve pain for up to 7 hours consecutively and is said to take the pain away entirely rather than just take the edge off as many other medications do.
Bali kratom is also said to be a fairly strong sedative, so it is best taken before bedtime. This combined with its powerful pain-relieving effects makes it perfect for getting a good night's sleep, which can often be difficult with chronic pain.
Malay kratom may be the option for you if your pain is more on the mild side, but constant, and interferes with your life as a result. It has a lower alkaloid concentration, so it won't make you feel as sleepy and the result isn't as intense. Malay kratom is also longer-acting and relieves pain for up to 8 hours.
Strains can also be combined so you get the best traits of each one. But remember, whichever strain you decide on, always start with a low dose so that you can gauge how your body reacts to it.
This YouTube video by Opiate Addiction Support gives more information about how to use each strain and talks about potentiators, which are things that help the kratom to work more effectively and for longer periods of time.
What Are the Best Ways to Take Kratom?
According to Senior Outlook Today, there are seven ways to take kratom, all of which you can see by visiting the link provided.
Taking kratom by doing it the traditional way, chewing on the leaves, gives the user the most immediate effect. There is no need to swallow the leaves, just chew on them until you feel the effects.
It is also very effective to drink the kratom, for those who don't like the taste, as it is described as being quite bitter. Senior Outlook Today says that there are many different drinks that you can use, but something acidic like orange juice is best because the acids take more alkaloids from the plant, which gives you greater effects.
Kratom also comes in the form of pills, tablets, and gum, which may take more time to be effective than consuming the plant directly, but will all work just fine.
They also warn that every person responds to everything differently, so you should begin with small doses until you understand how your body responds to kratom.
How Do I Get Kratom? Is it Legal?
The answer to that question very much depends on where you are in the world; and if you're in the US, what state you're in. Philip Fairbank at guidancepa.org provides a chart which outlines the legality of kratom in each country, so check there to see if it will be an option for your country of residence.
If you reside within the US, kraoma.com has both a clickable map and a list by state so you can see both the present legality and any legislation currently in place to try and change the legality status.
Overall, the legal status of kratom is complicated in the United States. Federally, it has been classified as a "drug of concern", but each state has its own laws. While some states have it classified as outright legal, some have age requirements set (you must be 18 or 21), and some have requirements as far as the form it can be sold in. For example, in Tennessee, it can only be sold in its natural leaf form.
In other states, it is banned outright, such as Alabama, Indiana, Arkansas, and some regions of Florida and Mississippi. A quick look at the map provided above will help you determine if you can get kratom locally.
So, Where Can I Buy Kratom?
In most states where kratom is legal, you can find it in smoke shops and herbal medicine stores. A search on an internet browser will show you different locations in each state where it is available.
Kratom can also be found through several online retailers. Some kratom that you will find online will be low quality, so it’s important to do your research and read reviews before purchasing from any one site.
Ceasar-boston.org gives a few tips you can use to make sure the vendor you’ve found is reputable. First, the vendor will show that their kratom has been tested in a lab for quality, and will provide a report of the lab findings on their website.
They will also provide information about where their specific kratom was exported from. This is important because if they don’t list an exporter, then they may only be purchasing low-quality kratom with no known source.
A reputable vendor will also provide detailed information about their products and how to best use them, as well as provide guarantees on the quality of their products, including options for you if you find that you don’t like what you’ve bought.
Dr. Bob Linde, a registered herbalist and acupuncture physician, outlines in this Youtube video what he says are the best ways to tell if kratom is good while you're on your initial search. This information can be used in conjunction with the tips above.
Living with pain can be overwhelming, but natural remedies like kratom can be a lifesaver. Taking kratom can relieve your pain and all of its associated symptoms, and that makes the difference between just getting by and actually living your life.
While I wanted to stick to just the scientific facts in this article, there are many testimonials online from individuals who have experienced major benefits from taking kratom. These can be found by searching on any internet browser.
Be sure to find the type of kratom that is right for you, and make sure that your vendor has your best interests and health in mind. I want to stress one last time that it is extremely important to start slow; while you may be eager to get the highest level of benefit immediately, a higher dosage may be too much for your body right away. Using the information and resources provided above, give kratom a try; you might just find that it changes your life.