Natives in South Asian countries have talked about the healing wonders of Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family, for years. They believe the tree leaves and leaf extracts have stimulant and sedative properties. It has reportedly been used to treat chronic pain, opium dependence withdrawal, and digestive problems.
Unfortunately, there aren't enough research and clinical trials available to back up these claims, and it hasn't been approved for medical use. But that's not to disclaim the health effects of Kratom. This article will review the potential health benefits that Kratom may offer and highlight the risk associated with using Kratom. Let's start by discussing why people use Kratom, the methods of usage, and the dosage.
People use Kratom for different reasons. Kratom has been observed to function like a stimulant at low doses. Low-dose users usually report experiencing the feeling of being energized, alert, and friendly after using the drug. It's also reported euphoric effects and dulling emotions and sensations at larger doses.
Kratom is mainly used in the United States as a tea that can help relieve pain and narcotic withdrawal. As for the intake method, the plant's dark green leaves are usually dried and crushed or powdered. In addition, there are also paste, pill, and tablet forms of Kratom, whichever suits you best.
The physiological effects of Kratom are linked to the presence of two main alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine, that can be found in the leaves. There are various potential health benefits of using red vein kratom and other kratom strains, according to available research, which includes:
A 2017 study on Kratom revealed some exciting details about its anti-inflammatory and immune system booster properties. This discovery backs up the stories of many kratom users that testified to its ability to relieve chronic pains and aches. In addition, Kratom's pain-relieving properties have been compared with HCG injections and reviewed as a natural remedy to comfort patients with fibromyalgia and chronic pain.
While there's a possibility that Kratom might present a more natural alternative to relieve pain and inflammation, there's still not enough evidence presented for the drug to be widely accepted — anecdotal evidence is growing daily.
Based on an ancient tradition among people from southern Asia, they usually chew a few of the plant's leaves before going to social gatherings or events. This is because Kratom would help them stay calmer, less worried, more at ease, and more outgoing.
This practice is still much alive today as people still use Kratom for its alleged ability to regulate mind flow and calm nerves. Some people say Kratom makes them feel friendlier and chattier.
The mechanism by which Kratom interacts with and affects the body is similar to that of opioids like morphine and codeine, even though it's not an opioid drug.
Mitragynine, an active alkaloid found in Kratom, attaches itself to opioid receptors to produce similar effects to antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. However, there's little scientific evidence to prove Kratom's effect on anxiety and mood.
Also, note that the proverbial anti-anxiety properties Kratom have are only present in specific kratom strains and product types. Users who want the anti-anxiety properties kratom offers would need to research to identify the correct strain and product. It's also crucial to establish a suitable personal dosage for optimal effects.
The International Journal of Drug Policy released a study in May 2019 to find answers to some frequently asked questions about Kratom and its use. An exciting find was Kratom's use in addiction recovery.
Many believe using Kratom can help reduce withdrawal symptoms from opioids and other addictive habits. A small-scale study was also conducted in Malaysia in 2009 to show how Kratom reduced withdrawal symptoms. Many researchers have also published papers, online reports, and data on the same topic.
However, regulatory agencies like the FDA still require more controlled clinical trials on the drug to ascertain it's a safe and reliable treatment for treating addiction.
As discussed above, there are different strains of Kratom, each with a peculiar attribute. While some can produce effects similar to coffee, others may make you feel dull. Some strains — White vein kratom, Maeng Da, and Thai Kratom — are believed to make the user feel more energized and determined to do daily tasks more quickly. This common knowledge makes many look towards a cup of kratom tea as an alternative to their morning brew.
Studies about Kratom's energy-boosting effects reveal that the drug affects specific metabolic systems to improve circulation and increase the amount of oxygenated blood, hence the pumped-up feeling effects.
Another possible benefit of kratom is that it can be a potential supplement for sexual enhancement. Some researchers have reviewed Kratom's aphrodisiac properties with several clinical trials and published data claiming it works well as a plant-based sexual enhancer.
Possible Side Effects
The most common side effects users of Kratom usually complain about are constipation and nausea. However, there are also harmful effects linked to Kratom use. They include:
● Dry mouth
● Liver damage
Not much is known about the long-term effects of prolonged kratom use. However, a survey of some users shows that anorexia, recurrent weight loss, darker facial skin, dry lips, frequent urination, and constipation are the potential long-term effects of prolonged kratom use.
Before using Kratom for any medical properties, consult your doctor first. As much as there are some benefits the drug offers, there is equally some risk involved, especially in cases of overdose or product quality issues.
There has been a lot of research that has proven that Kratom has medical uses, including pain relief, treating the symptoms of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, stopping or reducing opioid or other substance use, and managing opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Some drugs reported to react with Kratom include benzodiazepines, barbiturates, alcohol, opioids, antidepressants, anxiolytics, and other CNS-active medications. Further studies will also be needed to ascertain that Kratom offers more benefits than harm.
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