Kratom is confusing.
According to some people, it’s a miracle.
Other people–including the feds, a few senators, and a grieving mother or two–say it’s dangerous and want it banned at the federal level.
And then of course, there’s the not-so-hidden interest of pharmaceutical companies, who see Kratom as a competitor for the opiods they’re pushing on people and would rather have it not be an option.
When you run a Google search on Kratom, you end up sthe m
What Is Kratom?
Mitragyna speciosa, otherwise known as Kratom, is a kind of tree native to South East Asia.
Kratom has been used throughout systems of traditional medicine for hundreds (or thousands) of years but the popularity of Kratom supplements has surged into the last few years as more and more people have reported therapeutic effects and an opiate-like high.
Although there are dozens of different alkaloids (active components) in Kratom, the majority of the effects are attributed to two in particular:
Here’s what they look like:
The alleged benefits of Kratom include:
- mood enhancement
- increasing energy levels
- pain relief
- better immune function
- reducing anxiety/depression
- helping with opiod withdrawal
Of course, these are just some of the most commonly asserted benefits. Kratom is believed to have a much wider array of benefits but very few of them have been placed under scientific scrutiny.
There are several different strains of Kratom and each strain is alleged to have slightly different effects.
For example, Bali Kratom is supposed to be the most euphoric and opiate-like, whereas Maeng Da Kratom is (allegedly) more of a stimulant.
Kratom is a bit like Marijuana in the sense that different strains are supposed to do different things, but at the end of the day, it’s the same plant.
In reality, what kind of an effect you get from Kratom depends a great deal on dosage, not just which strain you’re using, but it’s certainly possible that different strains contains different alkaloids and different concentrations of those alkaloids which ultimately make the effects vary from strain to strain.
The effects of Kratom appear to be highly dose-dependent.
At low doses, Kratom produces stimulant effects.
At high doses, it produces opiod-like effects.
It’s not unheard of for a substance to do one thing at a low dose and the complete opposite at higher doses, but it’s pretty rare. The effects of most drugs and supplements are generally pretty linear.
The mechanisms underlying Kratom are more complex, though.
How Does Kratom Work?
The active components of Kratom include mitragynine and 7-HMG but there are dozens of other alkaloids as well.
It’s clear that mitragynine and 7HMG are responsible for the majority of the benefits, but it’s not clear whether any other alkaloids contribute meaningfully to the effects of Kratom.
That begs the question…
Is it better to use a powdered version of the plant containing all the alkaloids or is better to use extracts that are standardized for the these two main actives.
Many people prefer the whole plant approach.
In terms of their chemical structure, these molecules are similar enough to Morphine and Morphine derivatives (opiods) that they can actually bind with the opiod receptors in the brain.
7-HMG appears to have the higher affinity.
What Are The Benefits Of Kratom?
Kratom Relieves Pain
Kratom Fights Fatigue
Kratom Relaxes Muscles
Kratom Reduces Anxiety
Kratom May Help With Opiod Withdrawal
Many users of opiods use Kratom to withdraw. Since Kratom targets some of the same opiod receptors as actualy opiods, there’s certainly reason to believe it could be useful.
In animals, Kratom has been shown to reduce symptoms of opiod withdrawal, but it remains untested in humans.
It’s worth noting, however, that there are case reports of opiod addicts using Kratom to withdraw and a ton of anecdotal evidence supporting it’s use.