When you head to google and type in “kratom,” you get one of two results: either kratom is a miracle plant or a terror-inducing drug.
Some resources will tell you that it’s a dangerous drug that has no purpose being linked to the medical field. Others tell you it’s your only path to getting out of a cycle of chronic pain.
So, which is it? What is kratom? Is kratom safe? Keep reading to find out.
What is Kratom?
Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a tree in the coffee family that is native to Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and other countries in Southern Asia.
The leaves are harvest and the extract from those leaves is used as either a stimulant or a sedative. Some people use this as either a sleep aid or as relief from chronic pain
There are many active components in kratom, but the two main chemicals are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These chemicals interact closely with the receptors that light up when someone takes heroin and oxycodone.
Is Kratom Illegal?
In 2014, the FDA passed a law that made it illegal to create or import kratom as a dietary supplement. Because of this, suppliers list kratom on their websites as being used for making soap or adding to aromatherapy supplies.
As the years pass, more and more states are adding kratom to the list of Schedule I controlled substances.
In 2016, the DEA withdrew the initial decision to classify kratom federally as a Schedule I drug. Instead, they opened a period for the public to comment on kratom and how it should be classified at the federal level.
Ultimately, if the DEA adds kratom to the list of Schedule I drugs, it’ll become completely illegal. It’s important that you understand the regulations before you buy kratom with the intent to consume it.
The Effects of Kratom
Kratom is an interesting substance because it can be either a stimulant or a sedative depending on the kratom dosage.
At lower doses, it works like a stimulant. People report feeling more alert, having more energy, and socializing more easily.
At higher doses, it works like a sedative. The effects are more euphoric. It dulls your emotions and sensations.
Simply a few grams of kratom is enough for it to stimulant effects. Roughly 10 minutes after ingesting it, the kratom effects will kick in and they’ll last for around 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
The stimulating effects you’ll experience from kratom are:
- Feeling giddy or excited
- Feeling awake
- The ability to be more social
- Lowered motor control
This means that while you’re on kratom in small doses you’ll have more energy, but it may be more difficult to do tasks that require fine motor skills.
To experience the sedative effects of kratom, you’ll have to take a dose of between 10 and 25 grams of dried leaves. These effects last much longer, around six hours or more.
In addition to the feelings of sedation, kratom may be able to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms. Some people who suffer from fibromyalgia use kratom to help with their chronic inflammation.
How to Take Kratom
Now that you know the different effects that kratom has, let’s talk about how to take it.
When the plant is harvest, the dark green leaves are dried. From there, they’re crushed into a fine powder.
You can usually find the powdered kratom on its own, in a paste, or in a capsule or tablet form. Many people in the United States brew a tea made from kratom powder to help manage pain or opiate withdrawal.
If you’re interested in using the powder or making a tea, you should couple the mixture with sugar or honey. The leaves on their own have an intense, bitter flavor.
Is Kratom Safe?
It’s difficult to say whether or not kratom is safe. It hasn’t been studied, so doctors and other medical professionals can’t recommend it for use in medicine.
Without clinical studies, we have no way of identifying the harmful effects or drug interactions that kratom could have. Also, there is no one, set dosage for kratom that we’re aware of.
More studies are needed. There are animal studies that suggest that the major psychoactive alkaloid in kratom could have addictive qualities.
Dependence on any substance can cause side effects. Withdrawal from kratom could cause nausea, sweating, tremors, being unable to sleep, and visual or auditory hallucinations.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that, because kratom isn’t regulated by the FDA, there are no standards or rules for ways to safely produce it. There’s no saying what your kratom could be laced with.
Kratom Side Effects
As with any supplement, there are side effects of using kratom long-term.
A few of the side effects are:
- Decreased appetite
- Inability to sleep
- Unintended weight loss
- Discoloration of the cheeks
In addition to these side effects, every year there are calls to the CDC to report kratom overdose.
The Takeaway: Kratom and You
So, what is kratom?
Every time a new supplement hits the mainstream market, there are a ton of reports about it being some kind of wonder drug. There’s no end to the list of beneficial effects that kratom could have. But when you start using drugs that are untested unregulated, you’re putting your body at risk.
But if you’re looking for an over-the-counter way to help you curb your fibromyalgia side effects or take care of chronic pain, kratom may be right for you. Without research, many of our questions about kratom will go unanswered.
For more unconventional lifestyle news, keep reading!