Kratom is very much in the news these days, with people on every point in the spectrum demonizing, worrying about, praising, and begging for more research into this Southeast Asian plant. Salmonella outbreak aside, perhaps the most discussed issue is whether or not kratom has the potential to help people struggling with opioid addiction, as an alternative and to ease withdrawal. So, let’s take a look.
Is Kratom a Painkiller?
One thing that’s fairly undisputed is kratom’s analgesic benefit. Like opioids, the alkaloids in kratom act on the mu-opioid receptors, though to a lesser degree. Despite the similarities, kratom is classified as an opioid agonist rather than an opioid – it has a different molecular structure.
Most people who try kratom for their chronic pain report that it does help them. Indeed, relief of pain and muscle fatigue are some of the symptoms kratom has been used to treat for hundreds of years, since people native to countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia began chewing the leaves and making tea to alleviate the physical effects of manual labor.
Is Kratom Safer than Opioids?
Kratom advocates – us included – often tout the major difference between kratom and opioids as the fact that kratom cannot cause respiratory depression. Opioids, on the other hand, often do have this effect, and it is the leading cause of overdose deaths.While kratom’s main alkaloid, mitragynine, does bind to mu-opioid receptors like opiates, it does so to a much smaller degree, primarily binding instead to delta-opioid receptors to provide the antidepressant and some other kratom symptoms. Research suggests interaction with delta-opioid receptors can actually block the respiratory depression effects caused by interaction with mu-opioid receptors.
So, yes, most people will agree that kratom is far less dangerous than opiates. Though extremely large doses have more of an effect on mu-receptors and could potentially be dangerous, the small amounts of 6 grams or less recommended by Original Harvest (and most users) not only remove this scary side effect but also prevent minor unwanted side effects like “the wobbles”.
Does Kratom Make You High?
There are two very different responses to this question, with some people – often government opponents and people who work with addicts – arguing that kratom is just as euphoric as opioids like heroin, and others – mostly advocates – arguing the “high” is extremely minor compared to hard drugs. It’s likely dosage once again plays a role in this disconnect, with large quantities causing a stronger high than the small therapeutic amounts. Kratom has also been mixed with energy drinks and cough syrup – an extremely unwise and dangerous cocktail. In fact, mixing kratom with any medication or supplement could have unexpected side effects and should be studiously avoided.
Another significant question is whether kratom is addictive. From our research, we feel it is safe to say kratom does has some addictive potential, but more akin to the physical addiction of marijuana than the chemical addiction of drugs like heroin. Of course, it is important to use kratom in a smart and safe manner (and to keep it away from kids and pets, obviously)!
Can Kratom Lessen Opioid Withdrawal?It is the similarities between kratom and opiates that make it so significant during this opioid crisis, and so appealing to researchers. It makes sense that if the body thinks it’s still getting opioids, it will not have such severe (or possibly any) withdrawal effects; the brain and body may also not crave the opioids because it doesn’t know it’s going without.
The main thing that makes kratom appealing to the users speaking up about their experiences is the fact that they have been able to get their lives back. Yes, they are still taking a supplement that makes their body and brain believe they’re using heroin or morphine, but they aren’t at risk of respiratory failure, and most find they have renewed mental clarity, energy, and productivity.
Even if this is all kratom does – and research and anecdotal evidence suggest it does much more besides – it’s worth keeping this plant around for research and herbal treatment. If you believe you have found a positive all-natural herbal remedy, join the fight to keep kratom legal (and tell us about your experience, below)!
Disclaimer: There is little published scientific research on kratom at this time. The potential benefits of kratom outlined in this article and on this website are based largely on anecdotal reports from people who use kratom. Please research all avenues fully before beginning any kind of natural self-treatment, and speak to a medical professional, especially if you are already taking medication. Original Harvest is not a medical site and this article and all articles on this site are provided for educational purposes and interest only.