Also known as Madat, Thom, Kraton and Biak-Biak, Kratom is a natural herbal supplement.
It comes from a tropical tree that goes by the same name and is native to Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries in Southeast Asia.
This herbal supplement is increasingly becoming popular in the United States because of its healing benefits. Users claim it eases anxiety, minimizes fatigue, heals pain, and that it can be used to treat opioid addiction.
However, when taken in high doses it causes hallucination. So one has to careful not to overdose. It is also not regulated by the FDA so you have to carry out due diligence to ensure that whatever you are buying is effective and safe.
This article defines Kratom, explains what is in it, how it works and its potential healing benefits. The potential side effects of using Kratom are also discussed.
Read on to find out more about this supplement that is increasingly becoming ubiquitous all over America.
As mentioned before, Kratom is a herbal supplement.
It comes from the Kratom tree. The tree is scientifically known as Mitrogyna speciosa and is closely related to the coffee plant.
This close relation perhaps explains the many stimulant properties of Kratom supplements.
In Thailand, the leaves are often plucked from the tree and chewed directly. However, to preserve it, the leaves are often dried and crushed into powder. Thus, whenever you buy Kratom in the US you will most likely find it in powder form.
The powder is brewed like tea and drunk that way. Sometimes it is simply mixed with water or any other drink. Some people smoke it. The easiest way to take it is perhaps in its capsule form. So be sure to pick it in this form if you decide to buy it. Swallowing it as a capsule leaves no lingering taste in the mouth.
WHAT IS IN IT
The Mitrogyna speciosa leaves contain several alkaloids including mitragynine. Think of these alkaloids as the active molecules.
They interact with the brain and other parts of the body to provide healing benefits. Some researchers say that mitragynine interacts with the brain the same way opioid drugs such as morphine and codeine do.
They use this to show that it is true the drug can alleviate pain. Nevertheless, the same explanation can be used to explain why Kratom can cause hallucinatory effects when taken in high doses.
HOW DOES IT WORK
The authority on the safety and effectiveness of food and drugs in the US is the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
According to the FDA, there is no reliable evidence that Kratom works. We are not in a position to second-guess the FDA. Nevertheless, it should be noted that no reliable evidence somewhat proves that there is some evidence but it is just not “reliable” according to the FDA.
The evidence is there in the research and in the user testimonials that you will find all over the internet.
Additionally, on the flipside of the coin, the FDA is also yet to conclusively determine that the plant has zero medical benefits.
“So does it work?”
Yes, it does. This is at least based on the customer testimonials.
As mentioned in the previous section, its active alkaloids including mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine interact with the same brain circuits that opioids such as codeine and morphine interact with. Even the FDA agrees this much.
This interaction is responsible for pain relief. After all, both codeine and morphine use the same pathway to provide the same kind of result.
The active molecules are also known to increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
Increase in dopamine is responsible for mood alleviation and most of the other stimulant properties of Kratom.
ITS POTENTIAL HEALING BENEFITS (NOT FDA-APPROVED)
Kratom is so popular because it provides numerous therapeutic benefits.
One of the benefits is that it alleviates pain. Individuals with chronic pain have reported eliminating their pain within a couple of weeks of usage. Of course, the experience is different for everyone and the supplement should not be taken without proper medical consultation with a medical doctor. [See the section above for working mechanism]
It is because of the above reason that Kratom is also used as a substitute for opioid drugs when treating opioid addiction.
Kratom is also known for its energy boosting properties. As highlighted earlier, the Kratom tree is a relative of the coffee plant. Kratom’s stimulant effects include increased energy and alertness. This often automatically leads to reduced anxiety and higher sociability.
What’s more, Kratom can boost libido. This is one of its several stimulant-like effects.
Some users report using Kratom powder to manage high blood pressure, diarrhea, diabetes, depression, and chronic cough. While we cannot just sweep away these reports, it is fair to add that there has been little scientific research to support them.
ITS POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS
If you decide to take it, you should stick to between one and five grams of Kratom. Higher doses than that are known to cause a variety of side effects.
For example, it has been said that taking about 10 grams of Kratom frequently can cause addiction (dependence).
It has also been reported that Kratom can increase aggression, cause hallucinations, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting.
It may also cause fever or drowsiness.
The FDA has reported some deaths (44) in which fingers were pointed to Kratom use. The deaths occurred between 2011 and 2017.
The benefits have been stated. From user reports and some scientific publications, Kratom does have some fantastic healing properties.
However, it has also been linked to some serious side effects especially if taken at high doses. It can also be addictive.
Remember, it is only sold as a dietary supplement. It is not actually meant to be the primary drug you use to handle any medical condition. Always consult a registered medical professional before taking Kratom or any other supplement.
P.S.: This article is not meant to promote, diagnose or treat any condition. Always consult a registered physician for proper medical advice.