Is Kratom Safe? Myths, Side Effects and Interactions
Proponents of kratom, an herbal remedy derived from a species of evergreen tree, claim the plant offers relief from a wide variety of health complaints. People in Southeast Asia have used this botanical as a traditional medicine for centuries. In the present day, you’re likely to find it in capsule form. Some people chew, smoke or eat the leaves of the kratom tree, or brew them into a tea. In recent years, kratom has gained popularity as an alternative to qualified medical treatment.
While kratom has the properties of a mild, coffee-like stimulant at low doses, it can cause an opiate-like euphoria in high doses. This unregulated herbal supplement has not received approval from the FDA. The DEA has listed it as a “drug of concern,” with a high potential for abuse. So, is kratom safe? There’s currently no medical evidence to demonstrate this.
What We Know About Kratom
Researchers aren’t entirely sure how kratom affects the human body. However, we do know that the alkaloid compounds in kratom bind to the opioid receptors in the brain, thus providing pain relief, alertness and increased energy. Some people self-medicate with kratom to manage chronic pain or improve their mood, while others have turned to the herb in hopes of weaning themselves off opioids or alcohol. It’s essential to note, however, that authoritative research asserting any merits or safety of this supplement remains insufficient.
Though there are still many unknowns concerning the use of kratom, FDA research has shown that the botanical carries many of the same hazards as opioid drugs, including the potential for addiction, accidental overdose and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, itching, muscle spasms and insomnia.
Is Kratom Dangerous?
People who combine kratom with other potent substances – such as opioids, alcohol or benzodiazepines – have a greater possibility of developing health problems. Though kratom has been readily available, and often advertised as a “legal high,” commercial forms of the supplement sometimes come laced with other compounds like fentanyl that have caused deaths.
The DEA announced plans to outlaw kratom in 2016, citing an “imminent hazard to public safety.” However, large-scale protests from kratom advocates – including a petition with more than 120,000 signatures – halted the ban, declaring that classifying the herb as a Schedule I drug would stifle further research on the compounds it contains.
Red Flags of Kratom Abuse
Not everyone experiences the same effects of addiction, but there are several telltale signs to watch for.
- Tolerance, dependence and withdrawal
- Secretiveness and dishonesty about drug use
- Financial problems
- Changes in friends or interests
- Trouble decreasing or stopping use of the drug
- Spending excessive time using and recovering from drug use
- Shifts in mood, sleeping patterns, weight and activity levels
Where to Begin Your Healing Journey
People living with chronic pain or addiction are already undoubtedly already aware of the effects these conditions can have on various aspects of your life. If you’re thinking about trying kratom as a painkiller, to improve your mood or to taper off other drugs, speak with a physician about how you can manage these conditions without potentially dangerous and unproven herbal remedies. For example, meditation is one all-natural way to manage the ups and downs of daily life.
People who have self-medicated with kratom and other addictive drugs can get help from an accredited treatment center like Beach House. At our secluded five-acre campus, we provide quality addiction care within a culture of compassion. We’ve recently earned a spot on Newsweek’s “Best Addiction Treatment Centers 2020” ranking, and Johns Hopkins Medicine has named us a Provider of Choice. To learn more about our flexible, evidence-based detox and treatment options, or verify your insurance coverage, please contact us today.