Is Kratom Safe?
You’ve probably already heard about the herb Kratom and the medicinal benefits it can provide. This Asian plant has gained lots of popularity in recent times as more and more studies continue to show how powerful it is.
What most people cannot figure out is how safe it is. We all know that natural herbs are usually marketed as a safer alternative to pharmaceutical-grade medications but not all of them are as safe as claimed. Some of them expose users to severe medical complications that can be fatal.
But, where does Kratom rank in all this? Is it really as safe as most online vendors paint it out to be? What sort of adverse reactions should a Kratom user expect? Can it be used alongside other medications?
All these are questions that you need answers to before you even consider using the herb.
What is Kratom?
Kratom or Mitragyna Speciosa is a tropical tree native to southeast Asia. The plant’s leaves contain lots of alkaloids that give it the mind-altering effects it has. These leaves have for centuries been used as a remedy for pain and other conditions.
Traditionally, Kratom was available in form of powder from the crushed leaves. Some people also used it by eating the leaves in their raw form. In recent years, Kratom has not only been sold in form of powder and raw leaves but it is also available in capsules and tinctures.
According to most studies, Kratom has been used to treat pain, anxiety, depression, hypertension, diabetes, cough, opiate withdrawal among many other conditions.
Indeed, Kratom has been used by lots of people who have confessed to these benefits but there were some issues reported by some of the users and these were not just in the form of adverse reactions.
The following are all the issues that can make consumption of Kratom unsafe:
Side Effects of Kratom
- At High Doses
Research done on this herb shows that some of the alkaloids it contains work with the opioid receptors in the brain to deliver mind-altering effects. This also explains why the herb is used to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms. Kratom helps to reduce cravings for opioids and this has also been very useful in helping heavy opioid users recover from drug addiction.
When used at high doses, Kratom yields similar effects as opioids. This may be positive to some extent especially if it is used by an opioid addict but then it also exposes the user to side effects such as constipation, nausea, itching, and sedation. The user may also start feeling euphoric after taking too much Kratom. This can be very problematic and it can lead to awkward and career-ending moments if you take too much of the herb while you are still at work or in school. No employer or school would entertain an employee or student who gets “high” while still at work or in class, right?
Another issue with the euphoric effects of Kratom is that it can land you in jail. In recent years, different states in the US have been using Kratom drug tests to convict numerous cases especially DUIs. Therefore, if you end up in an accident with Kratom still in your system, the chances of it being used as the cause for the accident are very high.
- At Low Doses
Kratom works as a stimulant when taken in low doses. At such doses, it can be used just like coffee where it will boost energy levels, enhance alertness and sex drive.
On the flip side, low doses of Kratom can lead to side effects such as tremors, agitation, anxiety and coordination issues. Appetite suppression is also a possibility.
Other Side Effects
A couple of other adverse reactions are known to occur regardless of the doses you are taking. These effects include anxiety, irritability, nausea, sweating, dry mouth, hallucinations, psychosis, drowsiness, dizziness, depression, delusion, liver damage, muscle pain among others.
Some of these effects come down to an individual’s genetics and overall reaction to the herb. This means that the effects will be beyond your control and the only way you can save yourself is by consuming a different strain of Kratom or you stop taking the herb altogether.
The effects may also be as a result of the quality of the Kratom strain you are taking. Some Kratom products in the market are never pure. Some of them are mixed with other herbs and chemicals to improve their performance but they usually end up being harmful to the user. One such example may be the case of a particular version of Kratom known as Krypton. This product contains chemicals that activate the opioid receptors in the brain. The item has been associated with severe respiratory failure issues.
If the side effects are as a result of contaminated strains of Kratom, you will need to look up for a trusted vendor. You may also consider making your own Kratom capsules or tinctures using high-quality Kratom powder.
Another way of avoiding all of these side effects is by watching closely your starting doses. Beginners are always advised to start with the low doses and monitor their response before making increments. This way, you get to see how your body is reacting and its tolerance before burdening it with high doses.
Unfortunately, side effects are not the only thing you need to worry about. Some of the other issues you need to be aware of when dealing with Kratom include:
Lack of Proper Regulation
Kratom hasn’t been categorized as a controlled substance even though the FDA has banned its importation. The herb is still available in the market under different names from different vendors.
The lack of regulation means that there is no standardization and this opens the door to lots of complications. Since there aren’t any set standards, some Kratom vendors will combine this herb with other chemicals and sell it without its contents to the users. They may also compromise on the quality of the herb either knowingly or unknowingly during production or shipment. This will make the final product very harmful for human consumptions.
Kratom is used to replace hard opioid drugs where it curbs opiate cravings. Kratom is not as harmful as say heroin and that’s why it is an ideal replacement for opioid drugs. Unfortunately, when abused, the user will develop a dependence on the herb and this comes with its own issues.
After addiction, any attempts to stop taking Kratom will lead to withdrawal symptoms that range from unpleasant to life-threatening. According to the DEA, some of these symptoms include a runny nose, mood swings, bone pain, tremors, fatigue, nausea, and hostility. Heavy addiction can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, confusion, and seizures. The onset of emotional withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression is also possible.
If you are addicted to Kratom, it’s advisable that you seek help from professionals. These will help you to stop taking the herb over in a manner that will minimize the severity of the withdrawal symptoms significantly. You may also join support groups that will help to prevent relapse.
Negative Drug Interaction
Kratom can lead to life-threatening conditions when it is used with other drugs. According to a report published by The New York Times, using Kratom alongside other opioids such as morphine and hydrocodone can lead to severe depression or even death.
Multiple studies have also shown that using Kratom with other psychoactive substances can lead to fatal seizures.
Kratom is also known to affect how the liver metabolizes other drugs. This will not only affect the impact of other drugs but it may also result in liver and kidney damage.
Due to the fatal nature of Kratom interaction with most drugs, it’s highly recommended that one consults a physician if they are already under other medications before they start using the herb.
Kratom just like any other herb comes with its own risks. We also cannot avoid mentioning that the long term effects of the herb remain unknown due to the limited clinical research.
The good thing with Kratom is that if used as directed and if your body tolerates the herb, chances of adverse reactions are very low. You may also want to keep an eye on the regulations governing the importation and use of Kratom in your specific state to ensure that you remain on the right side of the law.