A full overview of Kratom Side Effects
Mitragyna speciose (Kratom) is a type of evergreen tree that belongs to the same family as the coffee tree. Kratom is native to Southeast Asia regions of Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar.
For centuries, Southeast Asia natives have been consuming leaves from the kratom tree in a variety of ways to derive a host of benefits. Some of these benefits include stimulation properties, pain relief, and stress relief.
Today, Kratom has found itself on the shelves of the Western market, where more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon in a bid to get some of its life-changing benefits. However, Kratom is still an unregulated substance since the FDA is yet to have a full understanding of its full set of effects.
Additionally, most resources on Kratom praise it for its benefits, only looking at its side effects at a glance. However, we believe that you need to know what risks you might be predisposing yourself to once you decide to use Kratom.
This article is a detailed guide to Kratom and its side effects.
What is the Legal Status of Kratom?
At the moment, Kratom can be sold and used legally in most states in the United States. Even though the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has Kratom in its list of Drugs and Chemicals of Concern, it is yet to label it a scheduled substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. As such, Kratom is not a federally controlled substance. However, states such as Alabama, Wisconsin, and Vermont prohibit the sale, possession, and use of Kratom.
Internationally, Kratom is banned in Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Why and How do People Use Kratom?
When taken at low doses, Kratom works as a stimulant and somewhat of a nootropic. People who take small doses of kratom report experiencing an energy boost, an increase in alertness, better focus and concentration, and more apt to engage socially with others due to its mood-boosting capabilities. As such, most people that use Kratom at low doses do it to boost their productivity as well as to alleviate social anxiety.
When used at higher doses, Kratom has a sedating effect. It gives the user a sense of calm and relaxation. It also has powerful painkilling properties at this dosage. Therefore, using Kratom at higher doses is beneficial for people looking for pain and stress relief, or a relaxing sensation that allows for better sleep.
The primary active ingredients in Kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which belong to a class of chemical compounds known as alkaloids. Research shows that these alkaloids are what are responsible for the effects that Kratom is known for.
The leaves of Kratom are what contain these alkaloids, which is why Southeast Asia natives love to chew on them. However, since you have to consume them while still fresh in order to get their benefits, it is not a feasible method of consumption for kratom enthusiasts who live this far away. This is why Kratom is crushed into powder, as it retains its properties for much longer while in this form.
Why is Kratom Controversial?
Kratom is yet to undergo the battery of clinical studies and trials that are necessary for a substance to be recommended for medical use. These studies and trials are absolutely vital when developing or proposing drugs for medical use. This is because they allow scientists to identify and understand all the adverse effects and implications they have on the body. Additionally, they allow experts to understand how they interact with other substances. Moreover, clinical studies let us know what dosages are effective without being dangerous.
Studies show that Kratom has about as many alkaloids as opiates or hallucinogenic mushrooms. As such, Kratom also has an incredibly strong effect on the physiological as well as the psychological state of a person. Knowing the disastrous side effects that opioids and hallucinogenic mushrooms can have on the body, it is only safe to assume that Kratom may have its fair share of adverse effects as well.
Moreover, the production and distribution of Kratom is yet to be regulated. As such, the FDA does not monitor the purity and quality of the Kratom reaching the consumers. Due to the lack of such standards, consumers are at more risk of running into bad Kratom that might jeopardize their health.
Kratom Side Effects
Even though we do not fully understand the full range of Kratom’s effects and side effects, most consumers can use the substance without experiencing any ill effects. However, it has been observed that adverse side effects typically manifest themselves whenever a user exceeds the recommended dosage. Some of the more common side effects from exceeding your dosage limit include:
- Loss of Appetite
Using Kratom regularly can result in significant weight loss and even lead to the development of eating disorders. When your appetite goes on a hiatus for extended periods, your calorie intake will be barely enough to keep things running smoothly inside the body, and this can have a big impact on your internal organs. Unfortunately, you might fail to notice that you are not enough. As such, you must start paying close attention to your food intake once you start using Kratom.
If you notice that you are eating much less than you used to, quit using Kratom temporarily to see whether your appetite will go back to what it used to be.
People who have used Kratom consistently for a long time report having constipation problems. Kratom use can slow down your digestive and bowel system. Even though it is not a serious problem, having infrequent bowel movements that are difficult to pass can be highly uncomfortable.
In severe cases, this issue can potentially lead to colon problems or even ruptures if the user does not take the necessary measures to alleviate the issue.
At times, the body may have an inflammatory response to Kratom, which manifests itself in symptoms such as the flushing of the skin in the facial area. Other symptoms include sweating, nausea, and frequent itching. These side effects can last up to a few hours. The only way of dealing with these effects is to be calm and let them fade.
- Liver and Kidney Damage
High doses of Kratom can be stressful to your liver and kidneys. When that happens, you will notice signs such as extremely dark urine and the yellowing of the skin. When the liver is under stress, the kidneys usually take on the responsibility of filtering toxins from the system. This overworks the kidneys, which is why kidney failure is a common theme among people with liver damage.
- Negative Interactions with Drugs
Combining Kratom with other types of drugs and medications can result in disastrous effects. As mentioned, Kratom acts like opioids. As such, when you use it with other opiates, they may intensify each other’s effects, leading to potentially life-threatening problems such as seizures or an overdose. In fact, the FDA released a report in February 2018 that revealed that there are 44 deaths linked to combining Kratom with other drugs.
- Accidental Overdose
When you use Kratom in high doses for a long time, you will eventually develop a tolerance for the substance. When that happens, you may find yourself having to use more and more of Kratom to get the effects that you desire. In that bid, you might accidentally overdose on Kratom.
- Kratom Addiction
For a long time, it was believed that kratom use could not lead to addiction. However, whenever people who use Kratom heavily attempt to stop using, they tend to experience symptoms that are akin to those of opioid withdrawal, such as nausea, vomiting, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, and depression.
Initial studies done on rats involved giving the rats doses of mitragynine, which is one of the primary active compounds in Kratom. Initial findings showed that the rats did not develop dependence or addiction as they would if they were given opiates.
Another study involved giving the rats another primary active compound of Kratom known as 7-hydroxymitragynine. This alkaloid is what is usually responsible for Kratom’s euphoric effects. The rats quickly developed a dependence on this alkaloid.
Even though there are no such studies involving humans, scientists believe that kratom addiction can also happen to humans. Besides, it has already been established that one can develop a tolerance for Kratom. As such, it is not out of the realm of possibility that that tolerance can lead to dependence.
Kratom is a herb that most people appreciate having in their lives due to its numerous benefits. However, before you put something into your body, it is important to know what you will be getting yourself into.
Kratom might be God-sent, but it can also have adverse side effects when abused. As such, make sure that you stick to the recommended dosage guidelines to prevent that from happening. Also, make sure that you only obtain your Kratom from authentic vendors to avoid using a bad product.