WHAT IS KRATOM?
Kratom is a natural supplement that is derived from a tree that is commonly found in Southeast Asia.
The tree (Mitrogyna speciosa) leaves contain several alkaloids including mitragynine. These alkaloids are believed to provide several therapeutic benefits when ingested.
Some of the potential benefits include less pain, better sleep, improved energy levels, increased libido, and less anxiety.
The Kratom supplement is also used as a substitute drug when treating opioid addiction. The only other drug that can be used effectively as a replacement drug to opioid drugs is CBD oil or marijuana itself, which unfortunately can only be acquired by prescription in most states across the US.
Often, Kratom users brew it and take it like tea. Other times it is sold as capsules. Some people are known to smoke it although the efficacy of the supplement when smoked is thought to be very minimal.
Even though Kratom is increasingly becoming popular across the country because of its healing benefits, there are concerns about its safety. This article looks into what the FDA is saying about Kratom, the potential side effects of taking Kratom supplements and how to minimize the risk of experiencing some of these side effects.
WHAT DOES THE FDA SAY ABOUT IT?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the main federal agency tasked with regulating the pharmaceutical drug market in the United States.
We checked to find out what they are saying about Kratom.
According to them, Kratom interacts with the body like an opioid. This essentially means it can have many of the same opioid side effects.
The administration also warns against its use. In a report released earlier this year (2018), the FDA argued that there is no evidence showing that Kratom is effective or safe. The same report also argued that the herbal supplement may cause several serious side effects on the nervous and circulatory systems.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) which is tasked with enforcing the law on illegal drugs includes Kratom in its list of “Drugs of Concern”. This is a list of drugs not included in the Controlled Substances Act but with a potential for abuse.
The message from these two federal agencies is basically the same. They are recommending against the use of Kratom because of its effects.
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS
The side effects
Now that you know the Federal government’s position is, here are some of the potential side effects you should definitely be concerned about.
As stated earlier, Kratom acts like an opioid. This basically means that it interacts with the same brain pathways that opioids interact with.
Thus, its side effects have been observed to be more or less the same side effects experienced when taking opioids such as codeine and morphine.
Some of the side effects include reduced appetite, dry mouth, constipation, confusion, dizziness, itching, sweating, nausea and sedation.
These side effects are often observed when Kratom is taken frequently at high doses.
Furthermore, the more you take Kratom, the higher your chances of getting addicted, experiencing hypothyroidism or damaging your liver. Yes, the supplement can get this dangerous! And if you get addicted, then you know you will eventually have to deal with the withdrawal symptoms which include confusion, delusion and hallucination.
This is especially ironic considering the fact that Kratom is particularly renowned for treating these very same withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinuing opioid use.
You may also experience muscle aches and tremors.
What’s worse is the fact that overdosing on Kratom can reduce blood pressure or increase the heart rate. These two side effects are dangerous on their own and may cause other adverse effects on the body including severe headaches and general body weakness. Overdosing on Kratom has also been linked to seizures.
Some news reports show that some users become very aggressive and violent. There has been at least one case of a mother having to call the police to contain her daughter who became overly aggressive after taking the supplement.
The Salmonella outbreak
A recent salmonella outbreak in many states was linked to Kratom use. The outbreak which affected many states was possibly the result of a contaminated batch from one distributor. Investigations are still being done.
Hopefully all the contaminated Kratom will quickly be removed from circulation and measures will be taken to prevent a similar occurrence.
Salmonella can make one terribly sick if infected.
This should perhaps be the most concerning news. Kratom has been linked to about 44 deaths. Yes, you read that right, 44.
“So it can kill?” Not exactly. Those who died had combined Kratom with prescription or illegal drugs. None of the deaths was as a result of Kratom use alone.
But still, this goes to show that Kratom has some deadly side effects.
HOW TO MINIMIZE THE RISK OF KRATOM SIDE EFFECTS
As you can see, Kratom use is associated with multiple side effects. From sweating to low blood pressure, liver damage and even death, the use of Kratom is seemingly a very dangerous undertaking.
However, there are several things you can do to minimize your risk of experiencing some of the mentioned side effects.
First, as you may have noted, overdosing is one of the main causes of Kratom side effects. Most people don’t know the kind of dose to take. Here is a simple guide, don’t exceed 5 grams at any one time. If possible, don’t take more than the five grams more than twice a day. Anything more than 5 grams is likely to cause most of the side effects mentioned above.
Second, quality is important. Don’t buy Kratom supplements from locations that may sell substandard products or that may mix Kratom with some other drugs to boost its effects. If you elect to buy, go only for quality products that are safe and effective. A good way to tell is to check store and product reviews.