Kratom is a tree that’s sold in health food stores and online. It’s used to treat pain, anxiety and fatigue. The plant’s active compounds (mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine) interact with opioid receptors in the brain.
Kratom is not FDA-approved and can cause dependence, withdrawal symptoms and interaction with prescription medications. Instead, experts recommend alternatives like exercise, yoga, acupuncture and CBD products to help with pain management.
- Pain Relief
Pain relief is one of the most common kratom benefits. However, there’s little scientific evidence to support this claim. Most kratom strains are stimulants, and this can cause pain suppression by stimulating the brain’s dopamine receptors. Stimulating kratom strains can also make you feel focused and productive, which may help to distract you from your pain or make it more bearable.
In higher doses, mitragynine binds to opioid receptors and produces a morphine-like effect. This can cause sedation, pain relief and decreased breathing in some people. At lower doses, kratom can produce feelings of alertness, physical energy, and talkativeness.
Kratom is not regulated, so you can’t be sure of the dosage or quality of the product you’re taking. It’s important to buy from a trustworthy source that offers a money-back guarantee and lab-tested products. Regular kratom use can lead to addiction and withdrawal symptoms, and it could interfere with the effectiveness of other medications. It can also interact with benzodiazepines, barbiturates, antidepressants, and blood thinners.
- Mood Enhancement
People who use kratom report that it elevates their mood and makes them feel more positive, even in the presence of depression. But again, that’s based on user self-reporting and there’s no scientific evidence to back this claim up.
Mitragynine binds to mu opioid receptors and stimulates the brain’s release of dopamine, which improves overall mood and can promote feelings of joy or euphoria. In addition, kratom reduces anxiety and its associated irritability which can also improve mood.
While kratom can offer benefits for a variety of conditions, it’s not always safe or effective and may even cause addiction. Instead of turning to this herbal supplement, patients should try alternative treatments and natural remedies like yoga, exercise, acupuncture, CBD products, and massage therapy. These methods offer safer, more consistent results and can be more cost-effective than kratom. Plus, they don’t have the potential for addiction or dependence that can come with a drug like opioids.
For some people, kratom acts as a stimulant in lower doses and can boost energy levels. This could be a great benefit for those with work or school obligations. Using kratom for this purpose may help individuals stay focused, especially if they have trouble with depression or anxiety.
Mitragynine is believed to stimulate a natural release of monoamines in the brain that contribute to feelings of contentment. It also may trigger opioid receptors in the brain that contribute to pain relief.
It is important to know that kratom is not regulated by the FDA and that its use carries risks. It may be contaminated with other drugs or have harmful side effects. In addition, long-term use can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms that are similar to those of opioid addiction. Individuals who deem their kratom use problematic should seek professional addiction treatment. Aside from medication, recovery programs can include psychotherapy, exercise, healthy diet, connection with others and the use of other supplements that support mental health.
- Substitution for Potentially More Harmful Opioids
While kratom isn’t FDA-approved, users claim it is safe and effective when used in moderation. Often, people experience the effects of kratom within 10 minutes and can last up to one and a half hours.
However, despite the anecdotal reports of safety and effectiveness, researchers warn against kratom. Because the plant isn’t regulated by the FDA, it can be adulterated to increase potency or mixed with dangerous contaminants—as was seen in the recent kratom-linked Salmonella outbreak.
Additionally, kratom contains two chemicals that can be addictive. Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine act on the body’s opioid receptors, similar to the way morphine does. The question asked often is, “what are the benefits of Kratom?
Because of the risks, experts recommend that people seeking pain relief and mood enhancement seek other sources. They suggest trying alternative treatments and outlets, such as yoga, acupuncture and exercise, and addressing underlying mental health conditions. For those who deem their kratom use problematic, experts recommend a program that offers support and gradual tapering.