Once you experience the positive, healing benefits of kratom (often after just a single dose) you’ll understand why this ancient leaf has become such a popular, all-natural alternative to synthetically derived, over-the-counter and even prescription medications. Harvested from tropical and subtropical Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Bali, Mitragyna speciosa, known as kratom or biak biak to the locals, has been an integral part of the culture for decades. Since 2004, it has gained notoriety throughout North America for its potent analgesic and energizing effects, proving beneficial to patients suffering from a wide range of conditions, including chronic pain, fatigue, insomnia, and mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Too much of even a remarkably good thing can be bad, however, and it’s possible to develop a tolerance to kratom rather quickly. In order to keep experiencing those healing benefits, it’s important to take regular tolerance breaks, or cleanse once a month to give your body’s chemistry a chance to “reset.”
How does kratom work?
To understand the necessity of regular tolerance breaks, you should understand the mechanism by which kratom works in the body. Despite being labeled as an opioid by many because of its similar effects (mainly pain relief and mild euphoria), kratom is not an opiate, it just acts like one.
The major players at work are two compounds, or alkaloids, called mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxymitragynine. These alkaloids interact with opioid receptors in the brain to influence the production of serotonin, to increase pleasure and decrease pain. Mitragynine has also been shown to react with other receptor systems in the brain causing stimulation in the same way as caffeine or sugar, although without the “crash”.
Blame it on those euphoric side effects, which have led many to clutch their pearls in distaste at the thought of using a medication that has the potential to bring about addiction. The pervasive problem seems to be a fear, especially among those treating opioid addiction, that swapping out prescription painkillers for a product like kratom is simply trading one addiction for the other. We have to point out here that it’s impossible to overdose on kratom (you are physically incapable of taking the amount of kratom necessary to cause overdose – your body would throw it back up before you even got that close), a fact that identifies kratom as a much safer and cost-effective solution for pain than opioids.
NB: Mitragyna speciosa does not affect the respiratory system and, though many have claimed that kratom can cause overdose, all scientific evidence shows it is not possible to die from responsible use of this traditional medicine. In cases where kratom has been detected in deceased individuals, it’s the combination of kratom and other substances, such as opiates and alcohol, that prove fatal. It’s important to remember that responsible use dictates avoiding mixing kratom with any narcotic or sedating substance, specifically those that might exacerbate the sedative qualities of some M. speciosa strains.
Take tolerance breaks
It can take a while for kratom alkaloids to flush out of the system, hence the relative ease of developing a tolerance, even after as few as three to four uses. Over time, you’ll notice you need larger doses to experience the same reaction as with the first dose; this is one of the reasons it isn’t recommended anyone take kratom daily, though people with chronic pain conditions may find this the only effective option.
A sure-fire way to avoid tolerance is to take regular tolerance breaks. This is simply the act of abstaining from a substance for a period to give your body a chance to re-adjust to life before said substance was introduced.
Responsible kratom dosing requires choosing to turn to M. speciosa only when necessary; say, before a particularly demanding day or when you feel a migraine coming on. If you suffer from chronic pain like migraines, spinal pain, muscle and joint pain or something similar, there’s a chance you may wish to benefit from kratom’s analgesic qualities more regularly than every few days. In these cases, it’s recommended you alternate kratom strains – like a red one day and a green the next – to delay the inevitable.
Your monthly kratom cleanse
We know that mitragynine has a half-life of about 24 hours – this means that after about a day, 50% of the alkaloid content will have left your system. There isn’t much you can do to help kratom on its way out, but there are a few things that affect how long it will stick around, such as:
- Age – older patients tend to experience longer elimination periods, a fact that can be attributed to the degradation of the renal function.
- Body fat – because mitragynine is fat soluble, the body can store this alkaloid in fatty tissue. Someone with a higher body fat ratio will retain alkaloids for much longer than someone with low body fat.
- Consumption of food and water – kratom will affect you differently if you’ve had something to eat than if you take it on an empty stomach. When consumed in conjunction with fatty foods the mitragynine will be absorbed more quickly. Additionally, water helps to flush kratom from the system, so the more you drink, the faster it will flush.
If you have any of the above factors, there’s a good chance that tolerance breaks might not be enough to keep you from experiencing diminished effects over time. If you plan on incorporating kratom into your regular pain management routine, you should include a monthly kratom cleanse to help the plant maintain its effectiveness.
What do I do?
Abstain from using kratom for at least a week to guarantee that your body has rid itself of any remaining alkaloids. The body will naturally flush kratom on its own, and there isn’t much you can do – other than getting adequate rest, proper nutrition, and staying as hydrated as possible – to help it on its way.
Safe and effective, kratom can be an excellent addition to your healthy lifestyle, and the best way to guarantee a positive experience is to purchase high quality, organic kratom loose leaf, powder, and capsules, like those available through Original Harvest. Check out our selection of carefully cultivated strains, ranging in potency from super sedating to uniquely energizing.