Kratom has recently risen to prominence in the United States due to the fact that it can provide users with a natural high which can be compared to opiate use – however it is completely legal (except in Indiana, Tennessee, and Vermont). The leaves of the Kratom tree (Mitragyna speciosa) have long been used by rural people in countries in Southeast Asia. It provides a boost in energy levels that encouraged productivity – however, Kratom can become addictive – and for this reason, it has been banned in countries such as Thailand and Malaysia. The drug is now in widespread use on the Western World where it aids in focus and increased levels of alertness. It is often taken in the form of a tea, an extract – or by chewing the leaves of the plant.
At low doses, Kratom users feel energized and more alert. However, at higher doses, the effects include reduced pain and sedation. In the United States, Kratom is actually classed as a dietary supplement – and regular users do show signs of weight loss. However, there have been reports of negative side effects to using Kratom regularly or in large doses. These can include insomnia, and dry mouth, darkening of skin pigment and in extreme cases damage to the liver.
There is evidence to suggest that Kratom can help wean people off an addiction to opiates – a growing problem in the U.S. It is however worth noting that users of Kratom may be swapping out opiate addiction for Kratom addiction. Dealing with the withdrawal symptoms to Kratom addiction can also be extremely severe. Muscle spasms, insomnia, increased levels of aggression and mood swings have all been reported. However – the effects of Kratom use and addiction are relatively mild when compared to those which opioid users experience.
However, Kratom does have many benefits. Users who suffer from chronic pain have reported that it helps then to achieve a better quality of life. people who suffer from stress find that using Kratom can help them deal with what can be a debilitating condition. Studies have also shown that Kratom use can help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as well.
Further research into the effects of Kratom and how it is processed in the human body are required, however, it is thought that a chemical known as ‘mitragynine’ found in Kratom binds to opiate receptors in the brain.
Although Kratom has become a substance that many users rely on to control pain and increase alertness the lack of research has meant that dosage is still a matter of the users simply trying different doses until an acceptable level of benefit is enjoyed. The Drug Enforcement Administration in the United States is mulling a ban on Kratom, but aside from the few states where it is banned, it remains legal in the U.S. It is clear that more research is however required into the effects of Kratom. Until the results of more clinical studies are published users are advised to treat the drug with caution.