What is Kratom and Is It Dangerous?


With the above questions in mind, I will try to give you my best analysis of this herbal medicine called Kratom. Some of what I’m giving you is rather technical. If all the names of the parts of kratom don’t interest you, just skip on to the 2nd question.

Mitragyna Speciosa, also known as Kratom, is a large tree in the Rubiaceae family native to Southeast Asia in the Indochina and Malesia floristic regions. The leaf of the tree contains mitragynine and was traditionally used for its ethnobotanical and medicinal properties.

The leaves of kratom have been used by the indigenous people as a stimulant in low doses, a sedative in large doses, an anti-diarrheal and pain-killer. It is said that Kratom affects the human brain similarly to an opiate, although there is no conclusive clinical data proving how the alkaloids work in relation to the human brain.

Kratom contains more than 25 alkaloids including Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These alkaloids act as the mu-opioid receptor antagonist. The three most abundant indoles are mitragynine (9-methoxy-corynantheidine) which are responsible for 1/2 of the alkaloid content, paynanthine, and speciogynine.

The two most abundant oxindoles are mitraphylline and spec IOF Oline. Other alkaloids present include ajmalicine, corynanthidine’s, Mitra versine, rhychophylline, and stipulating. Mitragynine is believed but has not been proven to be, the primary active alkaloid in Mitragyna Speciosa.

Kratom is a naturally occurring substance that is legal for use in many states the United States, but not all. Most users take the leaves from the kratom tree and either chew them, smoke them, or steep them to make tea in order to take advantage of the effects; others take the drug in capsule form. I have previously blogged about the use of capsules.

Though kratom is not banned under the Controlled Substances Act, it is included on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) list of Drugs and Chemicals of Concern. Some report that the drug is useful in treating certain ailments including pain, but there is no scientific evidence to back these assertions.

There are also people who report dependence upon kratom in high doses. Though the drug causes a stimulant effect in low doses, high-dose use creates a sedative effect. Regular high-dose use of kratom can lead to addiction – perhaps one of the most dangerous side effects of the use of the drug.

Addiction to kratom alone is rare in the United States. Most people in this country who become dependent upon the drug are also dependent upon other substances. Unfortunately, dependence upon multiple drugs, including alcohol, increases the chances of a medical emergency, including overdose.

Because kratom creates different reactions in the user depending upon the dosage, it’s not always easy to identify the addictive use of the drug. However, long-term use of kratom can result in:

  • Weight loss
  • Darkening of the skin
  • Frequent urination
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Anorexia
  • Insomnia

A medical emergency that requires hospitalization is another risk of abusing kratom. Some people may experience acute effects equal to overdose if they take too much of the drug, especially if they combine the use of the drug with other substances. For example, psychosis characterized by hallucinations, erratic or aggressive behavior, confusion, and delusion has been frequently reported.

Others will experience medical issues after long-term use of kratom. For example, those who develop anorexia after ongoing kratom abuse may experience medical complications as a result.

I will leave you to your own conclusions. Personally, I am highly sensitive to any drugs I am given by the medical profession in the United States. I’m usually sick for 6-8 hours after any surgery and I’ve had 15 of them, including 2 knee replacements and 2 major back surgeries. I think I would have to be in unimaginable pain before I would try this remedy. However, the choice is yours.

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Jennifer Kurtz studied medicine at the New Jersey School of Medicine (Rutgers). She is passionate about developing her knowledge of Cannabis, Nootropics, Kratom, and nutritional supplements. In addition to attending medical webinars and conferences, she loves to write research-based articles for magazines, healthcare professionals, and medical agencies.