A Helpful Guide to Kratom: What We Know So Far

Kratom has long been hitting vitamin sections as energy boosters, natural pain relievers, and mood enhancers. However, many are still unaware of its benefits and effects on the body. 

There’s still a lot that experts are yet to unpack from kratom, from its chemicals to long-term impacts. Meanwhile, it’s widely available in the market for public consumption. Anyone could buy and use it today. 

But should you? Well, the short answer is yes, but there’s a lot that first-time users should know before they do. Keep reading below for more. 

Understanding Kratom 

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a native tree to Southeast Asia, more prominently in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. It’s a plant species that belongs to the coffee family, Rubiaceae. Its leaves are made distinguishable by their vein color, ranging from white to red to green. 

The leaves are widely known for their active compounds: mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. These chemicals are the ones responsible for mimicking the same effects as opioids. Opioids, like morphine, are medicines that numb the body from severe pain, making kratom a natural painkiller with added effects. It’s one of the main reasons why kratom is sought-after, extracted, and turned into different products. 

The first recorded use of kratom was in 1836. Back then, the Malaysians used it as an opium substitute, while Thais utilized them as a stimulant to support workers. In addition, people also use its leaves as herbal medicine for various conditions, including cough, fatigue, diarrhea, and muscle cramps. 

Many countries permit the use of kratom supplements, including the United States. Currently, it isn’t regulated under any federal law. Anyone can buy and use kratom. However, no specific government agency oversees the production and quality of these supplements. Take note that possession and distribution of kratom-based products are prohibited in the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont 
  • Wisconsin

Apart from certain states in the U.S., kratom is also illegal in some countries, including: :

  • Australia 
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

It’s also illegal in New Zealand unless an individual has a prescription from a doctor.

Still, kratom has various uses today, both therapeutic and recreational. It’s widely available in many forms, including powder, capsules, tablets, and tea bags, giving consumers many options. Some even roll the leaves to smoke them. 

Known Benefits and Uses

Because of the active compounds in the leaves, kratom became an excellent, all-natural treatment for opioid addiction. It can also help alleviate the many withdrawal symptoms of painkillers, like morphine, including anxiety, hypertension, and insomnia. Plus, people utilize it for heroin withdrawal too. 

Kratom leaves also help reduce the symptoms of various mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Those who consumed kratom reported experiencing improved mood. 

Generally, all strains or variants of kratom are effective pain relievers. They afford pain relief by attaching to the body’s opioid receptors. However, kratom is more capable of inactivating select signals than opioids, allowing it to have more tolerable side effects. 

The kratom leaves provide various effects depending on the level of dosage. Consumers will feel more energetic at a low dose, while a moderate dose will give the pain-relieving effect with euphoria. Meanwhile, kratom becomes a sedative when consumed in a very high amount. 

Potential Risks to Users

Although many find kratom products beneficial, there are still side effects that consumers should know about before using them.

When using it for the first time, users may experience the following: 

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth and a numb tongue
  • Constipation 

In addition, since the benefits may vary depending on dosage, the side effects may differ for all intake levels. Some of the worse ones include: 

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Liver damage

Many users may not know, but people can get high from kratom the way they do with opioids. Abuse and addiction may happen if misused. While it isn’t considered illegal in most places in the United States, the country still lists it as a drug of concern.

Furthermore, experts also advise never to take kratom with any other substances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched one of the known studies about kratom-related fatalities. The report revealed 91 deaths from kratom overdose in one year from 27 states in the U.S alone. However, 84 of the cases showed other substances involved, including alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine. 

So, before you try for the first time, it’s best to seek the opinion of a medical professional first before taking any kratom product. 

Consume With Caution

Experts are still trying to discover more about kratom and its benefits and effects. While it may be available in the market in various forms, check if it’s legal to consume in your area. Make sure you consult with professionals before buying. 

Knowing all the precautions before using kratom can help you avoid its side effects. Until sufficient data becomes available, it’s best to be careful with consuming kratom. 

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