Kratom, also known as Mitragyna Speciosa, is a natural herb available in south-east Asia and a part of its local culture as well. It has been used in ancient Thai medicine as a pain suppressant. It has been used by mixing with tea and other herbal products.
Kratom has been used in medicine as a pain reliever. Its popularity has grown in the recent times because it is found to be effective against the withdrawal symptoms of heroin, and other addictive substances.
The psychoactive compounds of kratom are 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG) and mitragynine that acts as a sedative in low doses. Kratom hit on the same pain receptors in the brain reducing the sensation. It does not have the harmful effects of respiration suppression as with the case of classical opioids.
Kratom has gained its popularity because it is considered to be an excellent pain-relieving agent, i.e., analgesic. It can suppress a cough, diarrhea and can be used to reverse opioid-induced disorders. This has led to the widespread and cheapest treatment of opium addiction symptoms and to prevent deaths due to opium overdose.
Kratom has been in the news for some time. It has come into the spotlight because of the proposed FDA more aggressive stance on its use.
Scientists, academics, and physicians all over the country have voiced their support for kratom. Kratom is now widely used for the treatment of pain and for treating withdrawal symptoms in drug addicts.
Here in this article, we will go through the research conducted on the plant in recent times that underscore its potential benefits and the risks on the human body.
Research On The Benefits Of Kratom
Kratom Effects On Withdrawal
It is found from the extensive research of Jessica E. Adkins, Kavita M. Babu, Edward W. Boyer, John H. Halpern and Christopher R. McCurdy that kratom has beneficial effects in the self-treatment of Opioid withdrawal.
According to the research, kratom contains mitragynine that is responsible for this effect. The research paper “self-treatment of opioid withdrawal using kratom” uses various data to ascertain the results of the substance on withdrawal symptoms.
Mitragynine is a predominant alkaloid of kratom. It binds to the mu and kappa opioid receptors in the body. Kratom is found to react with some other unknown receptors thereby mitigating opioid withdrawal.
Kratom Users Experience
According to a research conducted on the qualitative analysis of the experience of the users of Kratom, the effects reduce pain in the patients. They experience mood elevation, anxiety reduction, and relaxation. It is also found that kratom can help in analgesia. Kratom is useful in opioid withdrawal management.
However, the study also reported side effects such as vomiting, and stomach upset in case of overdose. One can find the details in the research paper “Experience of kratom users: A qualitative analysis”.
Kratom’s Biochemical Effects
Researchers Dimy Fluyau and Neelambika Revadigar stated the various benefits of kratom in their research paper “Diagnosis, Clinical Risks Evaluation of Kratom and Biochemical benefits of Kratom”.
It is found that kratom is an effective stimulant and can be used in various types of pains. It can be used to treat muscle aches. It also helps in reducing opioid withdrawal fatigue in patients. Kratom acts as an anti-hypertensive reducing the tension in blood vessels. It serves as an analgesic reducing sensitivity in the body parts.
Other benefits of kratom include its antidiarrheal and anti-diabetic properties. It is also capable as an immunostimulant and anorectic.
Research also points out the potential of kratom as an anti-leukemic. The risks associated with kratom as suggested in the research findings are seizures, intrahepatic cholestasis, arrhythmia, impair memory function, coma, and death.
Research On Kratom History
A new research paper published in 2016 in the journal of medicinal chemistry has given a detailed account of the historical uses of Mitragyna Speciosa. It has given statistical facts about the uses of kratom from early history.
According to the paper, it is found that kratom is a potent stimulant and painkiller. It has only mild anti-opioid properties and has diminished respiratory suppression, reduced tolerance.
This research was on mice, and it is found that kratom has reduced physical dependence and gastrointestinal transit inhibition.
Evidence-based Review On Kratom
Natural Standard Research Collaboration has done an evidence-based systematic review of kratom. It has consolidated the safety and efficacy data available in the scientific literature using a validated, reproducible grading rationale.
It includes a compilation of expert opinion, folkloric precedent, history, pharmacology, kinetics/dynamics, interactions, adverse effects, toxicology, and dosing.
Research On Risks Of Kratom
In the perspective of the kratom users, some have reported that after regular usage of kratom, there are slight withdrawal symptoms when the patient stops taking the substance. However, it is found that while the symptoms may be similar, the withdrawal symptoms are nowhere near the intensity of the traditional opioids.
Some have reported digestive disorders when ingested in large quantities. There are episodes of constipation reported followed by reports of diarrhea.
According to FDA, 44 deaths that occurred in the recent times is due to the use of kratom. However, it is found that there are also other drugs mixed with kratom. So, there is no conclusive evidence that kratom is the sole cause. From FDA’s point of view, Kratom, like other opiates causes respiratory depression and results in a coma as well as death.
There are no cases in which the fatality is primarily due to overdosing of kratom. There is misinformation related to the risks associated with kratom, and there has not been conclusive evidence on the potential dangers of the substance.
In spite of the false information and rumors, the kratom community is supportive of its usage and consider kratom as a natural and a safe herb.
In a recent published review, by the researchers at the URMC (University of Rochester Medical Center) and UBC (University of British Columbia), having 57 years of international scientific evidence might help in reducing the misconceptions about using Kratom and can help in resorting its value as a public health tool which requires more research.
The study not only highlights the potential benefits of Kratom as a safer substitute for opioids but also shows how useful it can be in reducing the negative mood as well as can relieve a person from anxiety.
Recently published online in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, which is the largest systematic review of the usage of kratom and how it benefits the mental health.
The study clarifies that there is no evidence which can claim that kratom can cause suicide, psychosis or violence and as per the currently available information, kratom is not a significant public health problem.
That is why the researchers want to conduct a well-controlled rigorous study which can support the benefits of using kratom and can avail better understanding of the plant.
Clinical Research On Kratom
According to the research study on the “Biochemical benefits, diagnosis and clinical risks evaluation of kratom” the potential risks of using kratom are identified. It is found from the experiments on mice that 200 mg/kg of mitragynine is a lethal dose.
They have also cited studies on 30 males and females addicted to kratom by professor Suwanlet in support of their research. It is found that these subjects have developed darkening of skin along with anorexia, dry mouth, frequent constipation and weight loss.
It is found that when the subjects are stopping kratom after regular use, they developed withdrawal symptoms such as an inability to work, aggression and hostility. It is also coupled with muscle and bone pain along with jerky movements. The study also reported some cases of psychosis.
However, there are sociological benefits of kratom. According to a cross-sectional survey of 136 active users of kratom in the Malaysian states, it is found that kratom is a readily available and affordable herb that reduces the intake of more expensive opiates.
American Kratom organization has undertaken various helpful studies that prove that the kratom substance has more benefits than risks.
New research on kratom has found that it has pain relief properties. This is done by deactivating the pain centers of the brain without causing any danger. Scientists have encouraged the detailed research of the potential benefits of kratom.
It is a widely held opinion that kratom and its active ingredients can be the breakthroughs in the pain relief medicinal research that the country needs desperately.
Statistics On Kratom Use
Research on kratom use through Google search engine has been conducted. According to the paper “Pharmacology of Kratom: An Emerging Botanical Agent With Stimulant, Analgesic and Opioid-Like Effects”, a search for the keyword “kratom” in Google found more than 2 million results.
On a lot of 100 websites that were listed in the search results, it is found that nearly 78 focused on the sale of kratom. The remaining 22 websites are primarily concerned with disseminating information about kratom.
There are discussion boards that encourage discussion of kratom among users. Some websites such as scientific American are authoritative websites that give factual information about the substance.
These internet sites contain a wide variety of information regarding the use of the drug and its effects. It also includes information on the individual’s personal experiences. Some sites also provide statistics on the adverse effects of kratom on the body.
The searcher can also find ways of growing the plant regarding optimal conditions and methods. Other information includes the location in which the cultivation of kratom is happening. These websites only propagate the medicinal uses of kratom.
There have been detailed posts and blogs on the kratom uses from patients who are dealing with the pain management issues. There are testimonies from kratom users that it is useful in dealing with pain.
Some publications have indicated the use of kratom products on self-management of opioid withdrawal symptoms. Even though there is no anecdotal evidence, all these websites suggest that kratom is beneficial and has practically proven medicinal properties.
Given the misinformation spread by the local media about the risks of kratom, the first kratom leadership summit was conducted in April 2018.
It has brought together kratom suppliers, doctors, kratom users on a large platform to show their support for the drug. In the conference, the benefits of kratom are discussed.
Various studies related to the positive effects of the substance were highlighted. It sought help from the kratom community to work hard for keeping the drug under legal use. It is also noted that further studies on the kratom drug are required for clearing the misinformation about its risks.
Evidence suggests that kratom is being used for both medical and non-medical purposes extensively. New research about kratom shows that there are various active compounds in the drug that has significant pharmacological effects on opioid and other receptors.
It is also found that the drug can be potentially used for opiate withdrawal symptoms, pain management, and other clinical problems. At the same time, it is found that there has not been proper research on the potentially harmful effects of the substance.
The abuse and addiction of kratom need to be extensively studied. These fundamental questions need to be answered through scientific research.
The issues are complicated by the fact that there is no quality control and standardization in the production and sale of kratom products. There have also been cases in which the alteration of kratom with other products has happened.
Also, the interaction of kratom with other drugs is not entirely known. These issues need to be resolved, and that alone can give confidence to physicians all over the country to prescribe kratom without worry about side effects.
Patients are using kratom and kratom based products on their own without doctor’s prescription. This is a significant problem as they may take it in large quantities without supervision.
This can result in complication further defaming kratom for patient’s mistakes. It is better to have further studies that clarify the safety, efficacy and addiction potential of kratom in the human body.
According to the research about kratom, its opioid-like properties are beneficial in reducing pain and withdrawal symptoms in the human body. The plant, when used in measured doses, is advantageous to various medical conditions.
However, research needs to be conducted to identify the right way of preparation, right quantity for prescription and potential risks of overdosing. The ongoing research will benefit the community in understanding the benefits of kratom.
Summing up, kratom is found to be a miracle drug that has much of the desirable properties of pain management and withdrawal treatment.
Further research on the product can clear away the misconception regarding the harmful effects. Government, universities and medical hospitals need to come together to invest in kratom research to find out new applications for kratom that can benefit humanity overall.