Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a plant that grows in Southeast Asia and parts of Africa. For centuries, farmers chewed the leaves of the plant to get an extra boost of energy while working in the fields. However, due to the harmful properties of the drug, it was banned in Thailand in 1979 and in Malaysia in 2003.
Despite the bans, the known effects of kratom, such as increased energy and alertness eventually made its way to Western countries. Today, kratom use is continuing to grow in popularity and it is often smuggled from jungles in Thailand for sale in countries like the U.S.
Kratom is a tree. The leaves are used as a recreational drug and as medicine. Kratom is banned by some states in the U.S. due to safety concerns.
People use kratom for withdrawal from heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs, as well as cough, depression, anxiety, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Using kratom can also be unsafe. Kratom use has been linked to serious side effects including hallucinations, seizures, liver damage, withdrawal, and death. Due to these and other serious safety concerns, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to warn people to avoid using products containing kratom or its ingredients.
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A Powerful Plant
Despite the speculative benefits, kratom use may result in a variety of adverse effects, just like those experienced with the use of other opioids, such as nausea, psychosis, seizures, depression, liver damage and even death. As a drug with opioid properties, Kratom activates the areas of the brain responsible for controlling pain, reward and addictive behaviors and, as such, is an addictive substance.
For these reasons, and more, kratom is listed as a controlled substance in 16 countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, Sweden and Germany. It has also been banned in several states including Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin, while more are working to do the same.
While there has been speculation about kratom’s potential for healing, the FDA states that kratom poses significant harm to those using it recreationally, to self-medicate for pain or treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said in a statement, “For individuals seeking treatment for opioid addiction who are being told that kratom can be an effective treatment, I urge you to seek help from a healthcare provider. There are safe and effective, FDA-approved medical therapies available for the treatment of opioid addiction.”
In the wake of the current opioid epidemic, our nation cannot afford to tackle the potential fallout from yet another addictive substance promoted, without sound evidence, as a cure for pain or opioid addiction.
Effects Of Kratom
What are the effects?
Kratom Powder has several effects on the body, depending on the dose.
People use kratom in many ways, including chewing the leaves whole, brewing them as a tea, and crushing the leaves and swallowing or smoking them.
In very small doses, of 1–5 grams (g), kratom can act as a stimulant, giving users more energy. They may feel more awake and alert, social, and talkative.
In higher doses, of 5–15 g, kratom can have a sedative effect. This is similar to the effects of opioids, which cause users to feel tired, calm, and euphoric.
People typically use higher doses to treat a severe cough, diarrhea, or the symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
Doses higher than 15 g can make a person very tired and sedated, even to the point of losing consciousness.
Kratom can cause a range of adverse side effects, including:
- dry mouth
- loss of appetite
Mixing kratom with other drugs or medications can make the side effects worse or cause additional effects.
Risks and complications
Kratom comes with the risk of some severe complications, such as:-
Like opioid drugs, it is possible to overdose on kratom, especially when taking very high doses.
A kratom overdose can result in extreme sedation and loss of consciousness. This is more common in people who are taking other sedating drugs at the same time.
Kratom withdrawal symptoms can include diarrhea and nausea.
Kratom can be addictive. Someone who uses the drug frequently may experience withdrawal symptoms, which can include:
- muscle aches
- irritability and hostility
- aggressive behavior
- difficulty sleeping
- a runny nose
In rare cases, kratom has caused acute liver injuries.
Symptoms of liver damage include fatigue, nausea, itchiness, dark-colored urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
In most cases, people fully recover from liver damage after they stop using kratom.
Several deaths have been associated with the use of kratom.
The risk of life-threatening complications appears to be higher in people who take additional drugs, such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers.
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