Kratom is a tall, tropical tree that is indigenous to Thailand and Southeast Asia. Kratom’s primary active chemicals are mitragynine, mitraphylline, and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which are contained within the leaves of the plant. These chemicals are similar to opiates, and can actually be used as opiate substitutes.
Thanks to the internet, kratom has experienced a massive spike in popularity. This sudden surge in popularity has created an influx in new users who have both good and bad stories to share.
1. Potential for addiction/dependence
Kratom, can cause psychological and physical dependence, the latter of which is much more serious. During withdrawl, a user may experience constant cravings, yawning, nausea, diarrhea, a runny nose, muscle and joint pain, and irritable mood. Additionally, one may experience irritability between doses if they underdosed previously, making weaning off the drug inconvenient.
An addicted user will of course use the drug chronically. Chronic kratom use can cause anorexia, dry mouth, insomnia, and darkening of the skin.
2. Unpredictable effects
Some users experience a powerful stimulatory effect, while others experience feelings of sluggishness and drowsiness. It can cause calmness, but also anxiety and paranoia. The effects vary greatly by person, and it should be experimented with very carefully.
3. Legal Gray Area
Although kratom is currently legal, it certainly could cause some users to get in trouble with an employer. Some states have been cracking down on its use despite its status. Additionally, it can test positive for opiates on drug tests.
1. Addiction recovery
Kratom can act as a substitute for opiates during withdrawl. Opiates have a reputation for causing overdose, usually as a result of hypoventiliation. Even in high doses, kratom will highly likely not result in death, merely some unpleasant effects.
2. Positive effects on energy and mood
Kratom can have stimulating yet simultaneously calming effect, giving the user a feeling of alertness, energy, and (sometimes) euphoria. As dosage increases, it generally produces a more calming, opiate-like effect. When carefully administered, Kratom can be a beneficial supplement for daily use. Many users have self-medicated with kratom to help alleviate depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
There has only been one recorded death associated with kratom. A 17 year old male was found dead in 2012, and the presumed cause was “kratom toxicity”. However, the victim was alone at the time and it is unknown if other substances were involved.
Additionally, animal tests have shown extremely high levels (920mg/kg of bodyweight) of kratom’s active ingredient, mitragynine, to be non-lethal.