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Labeled as a wonder herb for its morphine like effects, Mitragyna speciosa commonly known as Kratom, is a tropical evergreen tree which is native to Southeastern Asian. The main psychoactive compounds in the plant, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are what have caused this newly adopted herbal solution, to remedy health problems for the Western world, to become controversial. Many governing bodies in the health sector are raising concerns around Kratom and saying that due to the lack of research or research already completed with inconclusive results, there is not sufficient information providing certainty for its effectiveness. On the other hand, many people swear by it as a way for managing their chronic pain, praising it for how it’s helped them withdrawal from hard drugs or love it for its soothing effects just to name a few. Sceptics add that there may be serious side effects of long term use of taking Kratom and anyone considering consuming it should be aware of what these side effects are. For this reason, we’d like to share with you some considerations to make before thinking about using Kratom externally or orally ingesting.
Is it all Bad?
Of course not, however as will anything, you need to do your research well when considering using something that has very little scientific evidence behind it which proves its effectiveness. Before we get into the doom and gloom of possible side effects associated with Kratom consumption, we’d like to note a few of the more common positive benefits that many users of the herb have shared. This section will be elaborated on later in the post.
At Lower Dosages: Used as a stimulant
- Increased energy
- Feeling of euphoria
- Heightened desire to be social and tendency of being more talkative
At Higher Dosages: Used as a sedative
- Treatment for opiate addiction
- Decreased pain
- Increased pleasure
What is the Composition of Kratom?
The two main alkaloids, according to many governmental bodies, including the European Monitoring Centre for Drug & Drug Addiction, that are responsible for the effects provided by Kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
You can find more information on everything about these two alkaloids in our post ‘What is Kratom’ (ADD INTERNAL LINK)
Main Compounds Causing Kratom Side Effects
There has been research conducted on the long term negative affects associated with the use of Kratom. Although there are other nutrients and chemical compounds found in Kratom which have effects on the body, it is the primary active alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which are what have been labeled responsible for the effects, similar to those from opioids. Active alkaloids in Kratom have both stimulant and sedative properties therefor it is almost certain that at low dosages, you will generally feel some sort of effects of the stimulant while at higher dosages, sedation properties will be obviously apparent.
Although not cited as being highly addictive, due to its chemical interaction in the body, many individuals do become consciously dependant on Kratom and are unwilling to come off of it because of the positive benefits it brings them.
Kratom Side Effects – Let’s Dive Into the Good & Bad
We’d like to mention that there are both good and bad side effects individuals having taken Kratom have experienced. Those using the herb comment that the effects are similar to that of an opiate drug without being as addictive. From a research perspective this would in fact make sense since the alkaloids in Kratom are in fact interacting and binding to the same receptors as opiates.
When consuming roughly 1 to 10g of Kratom the major side effect experienced would be on the cognitive side and would normally start with an increased alertness and a serge of energy. The metabolic effects could be the contributor for this increased energy and is most likely thanks to the fact that Kratom helps optimize on a number of metabolic processes and impacts the hormonal system.
At the lower dosage stage, individuals may feel more inspired or motivated to complete tasks, regardless of the monotony of them; they will often do this with an increased level of happiness. The antidepressant effect of Kratom at the stimulate stage often allows space for euphoric feelings, increased sexual energy due to the increase of oxygen that circulates through the body, and a general happy demeaner. It is said that chewing the leaves of the Kratom plant increase the amount of serotonin and dopamine produced by the body.
The main notable, but less severe, side effects:
- Decreased appetite
- Agitation & Irritability
Severe side effects:
To reach the sedation stage, one would need to consume anywhere from between 5 to 10 g of Kratom. One of the very first side effects a person would experience at this stage would be a lesser sensitivity to both emotional and physical pain; this same person may visually appear as if they are in a very comfortable state. This feeling is most likely due to the alkaloids in the Kratom leaves which act to dull the pain receptions in ones body. The Kratom leaf is rich in analgesic properties which works by impacting the bodies functions, resulting in a quick reduction of pain. The leaves are also used as an anxiolytic substance which helps contribute to reducing anxiety and the overall regulation of hormones in the body.
*Consuming amounts of around 15 g of Kratom have resulted in toxicity and for many individuals they have experienced severe side effects of Kratom at this dosage.
The main notable, but less severe, side effects of Kratom:
- Excessive Sweating
- Nausea & Vomiting
- Constricted pupils
- The Jitters (similar to when you’ve consumed too much coffee)
- Sudden tiredness
Severe side effects:
- Psychosis (Hallucinations, Hostility, Confusion, Aggression)
|Watery eyes||Mood Swings|
|Lower sex drive|
The effects experienced will depend on the strain, dosage, potency, and the individual user as well as the way the Kratom has been consumed. Most people choose to take their kratom as tea, however it can also be consumed in powder through capsules, extracts, resin, and tinctures. It is important to first understand the potency of the Kratom you have purchased and second, request a dosage charge from the vendor so you have a general guide to go by for how much is too much to be taken. Consuming just the right amount will ensure that you get all the benefits listed above without all the nasty side affects.
Please note: Because there has not been significant research around the thresholds of different forms of Kratom, we advise always airing on the side of caution and paying close attention to the reaction of your body whenever using Kratom.
Many say that because Kratom is similar to an opioid and not an opiate, it binds mainly to delta receptions and therefor the dependency and addiction likelihood is quite low. The argument is that just because it binds to the specific receptor responsible for the side effects, it doesn’t mean that it has the same efficacy as an opioid. On the other hand, evidence suggests that Kratom does have addictive effects, similar to other opioids and for this reason it is believed that there is definite risk for abuse.
Dependency: To prevent this, many regular users say that you should do what’s called rotating. What this means is that on different days of the week, you should use another strain of Kratom then the one used the day previous in order to keep your tolerance down and prevent a dependency.
Addiction: The FDA, DEA, and many other regulating bodies, suggest that no evidence exists which points to Kratom as being effective or safe to be used as a therapeutic solution to remedy pain. Regardless of what these regulating bodies say, millions of people in the USA are still using the herbal remedy and commenting that without it there quality of life would be considerably lower.
Overdose: An overdose is apparent when any of the side effects listed in the precious section, on Kratom effects, are being experienced. Overdoses are typically caused by error in administering the correct dosage for the strain you have and can easily happen when you are taking Kratom in capsule form. If you experience symptoms of shallow breathing, lethargy, slurred speech, impaired motor skills, aggression, and hallucinations, you may be experiencing an overdose on Kratom. Remember, combining Kratom with another prescription drug or opioid carries an almost for sure risk of overdose, can lead to seizures and puts a person at a high risk of fatality. Kratom has been known to trap substances in the liver therefor if you have combined it with another drug, you are doing more negative than risking an overdose.
Are there side effects if I use Kratom externally, for example in a soap or shampoo?
Research into the side effects of using Kratom externally is even more limited than that of the internal usage. Because of this, you can’t be sure that using Kratom externally would be without risk however, from the research we’ve looked through, we don’t see any concrete evidence against the use of Kratom in soaps, shampoos and similar products.
How does Kratom interact with other drugs?
Kratom has certain chemicals that interfere in the liver with specific drug-metabolizing enzymes. These interactions can be extremely dangerous and have resulted in fatalities. As their is not substantial research into the safety of Kratom with other drugs it is best to air on the site of caution and NEVER take Kratom with any other drug (prescription, over the counter, or herbal). The risk of mixing Kratom with other opioid prescription drugs can lead to serious side effects.
Note: We highly advise staying away from a form of Kratom called Krypton. This drug has been the cause of several deaths in Sweden. Krypton is a mix of Kratom and O-desmethyltramadol. This interaction happens in the central nervous system and is responsible for increasing the depressive effects in the system. The culprit of the deaths was found to be a high concentration of O-desmethyltramadol, not the herbal substance Kratom.
How long will the effects last?
Kratom is a very fast acting herbal substance. At a low dose of roughly 1 to 5 g, effects will be felt in as little as 10 min and can last for anywhere from between 60 – 90 min. Higher dosages can last countless hours.
Can the side effects turn into chronic symptoms?
Yes, although it depends on the individual, excessive and continuous use of Kratom can result in long term side affects. These can range from a subtle darkening of the skin, to more severe side effects like anorexia and even more dangerous effects such as psychosis. Some studies on the long term effects of Kratom to the internal organs of the body have not suggested evidence for the case however, others do conclude that long term use can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. Researchers are conducted further studies on this matter to confirm/disapprove these arguments.
Will the side effects be the same for each strain?
Yes and No, the side effects may be similar but the big difference is, they will most likely be experienced at different dosages depending on the strain used. Quality is also a huge determining factor to the side effects you may have. For a lesser quality product with low potency, you will probably have to use more to benefit from the desired effects while a higher quality pure product will be effective at extremely low dosages. If you’re thinking about taking Kratom orally, you want to make sure you know exactly which strain you’ve purchased as well as what its potency is.
Is Kratom regulated?
There is currently no market that has regulated the sale of Kratom, therefor you never know what you are actually getting when you purchase the product. There is no mention of it’s purity or potency, only claims to go off of. If you purchase Kratom for oral consumption, you are taking the risk to trust the vendor when they make claims on the potency and purity of their product.
Many individuals who use Kratom on a regular basis have commented that the possible negative side effects associated with Kratom use can be easily controlled with responsible use. Others have argued that Kratom is a potentially dangerous herbal substance and should not be used for internal use until sufficient research had been conducted to confirm its full benefits and risks. We’ll let you decide for yourself. Having provided all of the most common side effects (the positive and negative ones) we’re trusting in you to use your own judgement when making the decision on whether to consume Kratom or not. If you do decide to go ahead and try it out, we’d remind you again to be careful when selecting a vendor, make sure that the product you are buying is pure and there is some sort of potency rating on it. With any unregulated herbal substance, it’s always better to be more aware and take all possible precautions when using a substance such as Kratom.
- http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/14/10/3964 (Antioxidant Properties)
- https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm584970.htm (Risks)
- http://psycnet.apa.org/record/1977-10558-001 (Study on continued use/withdrawal)
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24698080 (Withdrawal)
- https://www.dea.gov/pr/multimedia-library/publications/drug_of_abuse.pdf#page=84 (Overdose)
- https://academic.oup.com/jat/article/35/4/242/769060 (Drug Interactions)
- https://kratomcrazy.com/2017/06/13/whats-15-reported-kratom-deaths/ (Krypton)
- https://livertox.nih.gov/Kratom.htm (Long term effects)
- http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/drug-profiles/kratom (Chemistry of Kratom)