One thing that most people don’t realize about modern medicine is that many of the drugs currently prescribed by doctors have their origins in natural folk remedies produced from plants. For instance, the active ingredient in aspirin is found in the bark of the willow tree. Kratom, referred to by scientists as mitragyna speciosa, is a highly popular herb from East Asia that offers a number of potential benefits. Related to the coffee plant, kratom is extremely popular with individuals who have a busy life and need more energy and focus. It’s particularly gaining popularity with students trying to excel at academics.
Like any other product you find these days, you will also find that it has its critics on the Internet. There are some people who are concerned about safety issues when it comes to the use of kratom. And the FDA itself shares some of these concerns. However, as some of the following will make clear, these concerns may be exaggerated – since they seem to be based on unusually high doses of kratom and a somewhat limited sample size – particularly given how many people are using this product today.
What is Kratom?
For generations, any number of farmers in East Asia have been aware of the many benefits that that can derived by simply chewing the leaves of the kratom plant or brewing these leaves into a tea they then drink. These farmers get more energy to carry out their often difficult and physically demanding work throughout the day. And in addition to the energy boosting properties of kratom, it seems to offer a number of positive medicinal benefits as well.
While this valuable herb is only now becoming well known in the United States, the medicinal benefits of kratom have been known in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand for many years. For those who are suffering from a range of chronic illnesses, kratom can offer a degree of relief. Even for individuals suffering from addiction, kratom can help with their withdrawal symptoms. This is because it affects the opioid receptors in the brain in a way similar to opium itself. This kind of substitution is often very useful in breaking the cycle of addiction.
As a long-standing folk remedy in East Asia, kratom has been used not only for pain relief, but also to deal with fever, chronic diarrhea and even diabetes. Kratom is a complex herb containing more than 25 alkaloids and over 3 dozen different compounds. Some of these are mildly analgesic, which means they can interfere with the impact of an opioid, relieving withdrawal symptoms in a more natural way than many alternatives offered by modern medicine.
Side Effects of Using Kratom
As suggested above, it’s important to note at this juncture that kratom is not without its detractors. In certain instances, there is some evidence that kratom can cause dizziness, sweating, vomiting and nausea. In fact, the DEA indicates that from 2010-2015 more than 600 calls were received by poison control centers in the US regarding possible kratom poisoning or exposure.
Also according to the DEA, kratom use can potentially lead to addiction. Further, instances of psychosis associated with the use of this herb have – at least anecdotally – been noted. In these cases, the addicted individuals demonstrated a number of symptoms associated with psychosis, including confusion, delusion and hallucinations. But the actual number of incidents in which this really takes place is not entirely clear. Given how many people are using this product currently, the number experiencing these kinds of problems might actually be quite small.
It’s also true that – even though kratom is often used to control withdrawal symptoms – it can itself supposedly cause mild withdrawal symptoms in some cases. These symptoms can include sleeping difficulties, watery eyes, fever, hot flashes, runny nose, mood problems, diarrhea and a decrease in appetite. However, the research to support this is not as clear-cut and definitive as it might be.
While more serious instances of supposed withdrawal symptoms resulting from kratom have noted increased irritability, higher blood pressure, heart palpitations, insomnia, psychosis, seizures and even,, there is some question as to whether kratom alone was actually responsible for all of this, or if there was another factor involved. Given the ambiguity here, further research is clearly warranted before jumping to any conclusions.
Keep in mind that the risks associated with kratom to be higher when it’s taken in a concentrated form where the potency is quite naturally significantly increased. It’s also likely to cause more problems when you mix it with other drugs or substances. This is often the case with individuals who either have particular medical conditions or are of users of drugs or alcohol.
According to the DEA, the use of kratom around the world and within the United States, but there is – as of yet – no clear link demonstrating that kratom was solely responsible for these deaths. In fact, the vast majority of such deaths occurring between 2014-2016 appear to have involved additional illegal drugs or substances. For instance, a number of the deaths supposedly linked to kratom in Sweden also involved a product that had been laced with an opiate similar to tramadol.
More Details on the Benefits of Kratom
Let’s looked more closely at the many remarkable health benefits you might be able to enjoy by using kratom leaves. Keep in mind though that it’s always best to consult your doctor before introducing anything new to your health regime, especially if you have a serious pre-existing condition for which you are receiving multiple prescriptions and treatments. You want to be sure there won’t be any interaction problems between these medications and/or treatments and the kratom leaves.
Supporters often note that kratom provides a number of analgesic compounds that can help to rapidly relieve aches and pains throughout your body. It does this by influencing your body’s hormone system and metabolism. Dopamine and serotonin are both painkillers that your body naturally produces, and chewing kratom or making it into a tea and drinking it can increase the production of these natural pain relievers in your body. This aspect of kratom viewed as its most important and useful application.
Immune System Boost
These days, many people around the world are experiencing immune system problems. Whether this is a result of environmental factors or for other reasons, autoimmune issues have become more prevalent than ever before. This can have serious implications for a person’s overall health – and even their lifespan.
However, a number of studies carried out by independent researchers on the various compounds and alkaloids found in kratom have revealed that – in combination – these substances can have a significant effect on the health and effectiveness of your body’s immune system. In addition to this, it’s been noted by researchers that kratom – traditionally employed by herbalists in Asia – contains compounds that help remove free radicals from the body by providing natural antioxidants.
Kratom also has a significant impact on your body’s metabolism and is one of the principal reasons why kratom leaves are so widely used and so popular – they are particularly popular among workers carrying out heavy labor. The use of kratom leaves can enhance your energy level by changing your hormone levels and increasing specific metabolic processes so you can get more work done.
While kratom has soothing properties, it can also significantly increased circulation of the body, meaning that there will be a corresponding increase in oxygenation of the blood going to your muscles and other areas of your body that need oxygen – particularly when you’re exerting yourself. This can provide you with a quick burst of additional energy when you need it. Also, people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome can use kratom as a natural treatment option to relieve their symptoms.
This increased circulation of blood throughout the body – with its resulting increase in oxygenation – can help build and maintain muscle tissue. Along with a vigorous exercise regime and a carefully managed diet, this can help you build muscle in the long-term. This is great for bodybuilders and strength athletes, but it’s also very useful for the average person just wants to get in better shape.
Many people make use of Kratom to help relieve their underlying anxiety or general depression. Anxiety and nervous tension have been demonstrated to cause a wide range of health problems, from high blood pressure or heart disease. Kratom contains substances that can help sufferers deal with mood swings, anxiety, depression or chronic stress. Often, stress is a consequence of hormonal or chemical imbalance is going on within the body. Kratom can help to regulate these hormones so that you can enjoy relief from exhausting and sometimes debilitating symptoms of anxiety. More than this, you can do so using a natural substance so that you can avoid the potential side effects of pharmaceuticals.
Because of the innately beneficial and natural aspects of Kratom leaves, they have for centuries often been used as a means for addressing addiction problems like withdrawal. For example, in countless countries around the world, opium addicts have become a major problem for society as a whole. However, systematically chewing kratom leaves can offer these addicted individuals a somewhat similar sensation without all of the harmful side effects and comedowns they would experience when trying to get off the drug they are addicted to.
For this reason, when people are trying to free themselves of their addictions and maintain that freedom into the future, they will often turn to this useful herb as an interim solution to help help them get clean and stay that way. Kratom provides these individuals with a way of minimizing their withdrawal symptoms during their transition from the hard drug they have been abusing prior to this. In the West, this is often been done using medications that themselves are almost as bad as the addictive drug itself.
Management of Diabetes
One unexpected area where you can benefit by using Kratom leaves is in managing diabetes. These leaves are known to have a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels in the body. Some research seems to show that some alkaloids contained in kratom leaves have a regulatory effect on the amount of glucose and insulin in the blood stream. In effect, it may be that kratom can help prevent the sometimes dangerous dips and peaks that diabetics so often have to face. Given the serious effects that diabetes can have on your body, you’ll want to have every weapon you can to help fight this disease.
Research and Controversies
Researchers have been aware since the mid-1990s that compounds found in kratom leaves can produce opioid like effects. For instance, mitragynine is known to bind to opioid receptors – which implies that it can produce some effects similar to opioids like morphine. This has made kratom controversial in some circles and a government, is why the FDA is pushing for tighter regulations when it comes to the sale, possession and use of kratom. However, the same researchers point out that mitragynine seems to only very weakly bind to opioid receptors – and perhaps just to a small subset of those receptors.
This would seem to suggest that mitragynine could have significantly weaker addictive properties then does opioids like morphine – with correspondingly fewer serious side effects. On the other hand, it may be that for it to be potent enough to work as an analgesic you would have to use a much higher dose – which could increase the dangerous side effects and risks involved. As of yet, there have been few human trials and the data available on kratom is extremely limited.
A meta review in 2017 of studies published on the subject indicates that kratom leaves have any number of significant benefits, acting as both a stimulant and – in some cases – as a sedative. Meta-reviews look at many other research studies to draw conclusions about a particular topic. According to many of these studies, kratom also appears to help reduce inflammatory responses and seems to enhance immunity as well. There are also some indications in certain studies that it can serve as an antidepressant agent.
All of these studies also mention the drawbacks discussed above, which can include impaired memory, seizures, and – in some rare cases – death. Psychologically, the use of kratom both euphoria and a feeling of relaxation. However, these positive psychological benefits may be offset by increased hostility, aggression and even psychosis. Physical manifestations that are in rare instances seen with excessive kratom use include vomiting, dry mouth and awkward, jerky movements. Finally, some individuals report mild to serious withdrawal symptoms related to kratom use.
Looking specifically at the human body and some of the potential problems that kratom users might encounter when using this product, one of the most important concerns relates to the possible toxic effects that it can have on the liver. Because the reserve is widely touted for being an effective substitute for opiates when it comes to dealing with chronic pain, this kind of liver toxicity is something that has to be carefully considered.
While this may not be an obvious problem for many users and the chance of developing a liver issue as a consequence of kratom use is probably quite small, the more someone uses kratom, the greater the risk will become. This is of course why researchers carry out studies of any medicine or medicinal agent before it is sold in the United States.
Kratom proponents will often point to the fact that it has been used traditionally – and safely – for generations in East Asia. In their opinion, this is a solid argument against any excessive regulation or prohibition being placed on the use of kratom. However, government officials and many experts feel that because it is frequently been used as a psychoactive drug in order to achieve a “legal high,” it needs to be either strongly regulated or banned entirely. There’s no question that the use of the substance can produce opiate like feelings of euphoria and even hallucinations – at least in very high doses.
But it’s also true that kratom is traditionally used in a raw form or brewed into a tea. This means that the dose the user receives will almost always be quite low. Still, higher doses of kratom are not necessarily safe simply because lower doses are. Also, the use of these kinds of substances in traditional folk medicine does not necessarily provide a good window on the risks related to long-term toxic effects, including liver toxicity. For that, you have to turn to modern science and statistical analysis.
So just what is the potential for a fatal overdose using kratom? The statement by the FDA on kratom has updated their previous reports and emphasized certain aspects of acute overdoses that could possibly lead to death. In these studies by the FDA, they are basically pointing to virtually any death in which mitragynine was found in the body as an indication that kratom might be dangerous.
However, it is unclear – in most instances – precisely what impact mitragynine had on the death of the individual in question. In some cases, mitragynine was not the only substance found, making a precise cause and effect association difficult. So, the FDA’s determination that 40 or more deaths might be associated with the use of kratom should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt, since it may well be that other substances, drugs or factors played a role in the deaths of these people.
While it is certainly the job of the FDA to protect the general public from dangerous drugs – and there ongoing concerns about kratom – in this instance it may be that they are leaping to a conclusion too quickly. For instance, the Kratom Association believes that kratom has no real risk for overdose or for death when used correctly. However, this assessment may also be somewhat biased, meaning that further research may be required to fully evaluate just what the dangers – and potential benefits – of kratom use actually are. And of course, there are also the considerations of the potential negative drug interactions that might occur for those who are taking prescription drugs.
While it is true that some limited animal studies indicate that high doses of kratom can suppress respiration, this effect seems to be much weaker than you would see with opiates like morphine. More than this, this kind of respiratory suppression has never been clinically seed in humans. One recent overview of all of the safety concerns related to kratom has concluded that there is insufficient information or proof to draw any conclusions.
So as the above makes clear, kratom has moved from being a relatively obscure primarily used in East Asia to one that has been embraced around the world. It can offer any number of significant benefits when used correctly. If you are a busy individual who needs a little extra boost during the day to help you get on with your work and daily life, kratom might be exactly what you’re looking for.
The detractors of this product tend to base their research and criticism on very unusual circumstances, such as an instance where you might use a very large amount at one time. But most people use only a small amount of kratom during the day, which means you’re unlikely to encounter any serious side effects or other problems while using this product as long as you use it in moderation.
Of course, there are always going to be those who criticize any product you find on the Internet, but you should give this product a try yourself if you think it can help you. Whether you’re an athlete or a student, kratom can potentially help you excel at what you’re doing. It can also be used to address a wide range of physical and medical disorders.