Kratom scienticfic name is Mitragyna speciosa. It is an evergreen tree that is indigenous to Southeast Asia. When ingested, the kratom leaves or the decoctions from the leaves produce some complex stimulant similar to opioid effects. This is why native populations in Southeast Asia think of it as an opiate. But is Kratom an opiate?
It has been used to stave off fatigue and improve moods, deal with opioid withdrawal symptoms, and alleviate pain for generations. Though Kratom has been an essential herbal agent, currently, from the last 20 years, the use of these herbal supplements has been to the fullest.
It is now typically dealing with opioid withdrawal symptoms, chronic pain relief, and mood disorders. The use of Kratom in the United States has increased with the severe opioid abuse and dependence epidemic.
Right after the efforts made to restrict the use of prescription opioids, street opioid use has increased. Since 2015 opioids, including heroin, fentanyl, and illicit drugs, have been sold in massive amounts. Moreover, patients with chronic pain who lack opioid receptors are denied appropriate medical help.
What Is Kratom?
Kratom is also known as Ketum and is a tree-like plant. Generally, this tree-like plant is native to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and some other regions of Southeast Asia. The indigenous people from Southeast Asia have used the fresh kratom leaves as a mild stimulant that can help reduce fatigue, even help relieve pain, and as an opioid substitute.
Kratom leaves are suspected of having more than 40 active alkaloids and having the two best-categorized alkaloids, the mitragynine and the 7-hydroxy mitragynine. The mitragynine has a partially biased activity in the mu-type opioid receptors. It has some mixed-type activities in the delta-opioid receptors and has a wide variety of effects on the neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.
Is Kratom An Opiate?
Kratom is an essential medical plant, and it has opioid properties. However, it is not chemically identical to opioids, but the chemicals of Kratom can interact with the brain opioid receptors as the medicines do.
The interaction of Kratom with the brain is the main reason why FDA has classified Kratom as an opioid. Even Kratom generates the same effects as opioids: pain relief, intoxication, addiction, and drowsiness. However, Kratom is safe to use but has not been proven, so you cannot blindly trust it and use it instead of medical opioids. Even the recommended dose for the safe side is also not precise. Low doses tend to have stimulant effects on the user, while high doses have a sedative impact. In addition to this, the long-term use of Kratom can cause you some withdrawal symptoms, and the side effects of Kratom are much similar to opioids.
Most opioids and recreational substances are potent enough to overdose on Kratom, but the treatments for the opioid overdose are much similar to the kratom overdose with some similar complications.
Kratom is also potent medicine for opioid use disorder, including methadone and buprenorphine. But, these facts are not yet proven by any concrete examinations, so we cannot conclude that Kratom is safe to use instead of opioids.
1. Working Of The Kratom
The two most essential components of the Kratom leaves interact with all the opioid receptors present in the human brain. The chemicals from the mitragynine and 7-alpha-hydroxy mitragynine release chemicals which further yield some sedative impacts if taken in large doses.
Kratom is thought to bind the same region near the nerve cells as opioid medications. So, it causes an identical effect on the brain. But some preliminary medical examiner reports are there to prove the permanent fitness substances of Kratom and the actual operation of Kratom in the human brain.
More than 25 compounds of kratom help in giving psychoactive effects to the user. The compound 7-hydroxy mitragynine in Kratom is 13 times more potent than morphine. So, the compounds cross the brain’s blood barrier at full speed.
2. Use Of Kratom
Kratom has been in use for several years in Southeast Asia. In just 10-20 years, kratom use has increased in other regions, especially in Europe and the North American region. However, in the United States, kratom products are extensively used for their properties. The properties include self-manage chronic pain, depression reliever, and opioid use disorder.
There are more than three million kratom users in the United States region. The widely used products of Kratom are the chopped or powdered Kratom, capsule or tablet form of Kratom, and dried life material form. The tablets are concentrated extracts of Kratom, formulated as teas or capsules.
Such products are available from internet vendors. Shops commonly known as head shops or smoke shops have these kratom products. But lately, kratom products are mainly sold through chain stores that specialize in selling herbal supplements.
Kratom is also considered a new dietary or nutritional supplement by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is legal in most United States, even when states like Alabama, Indiana, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Florida have passed legislation for selling and possessing the Kratom.
However, some states are on the verge of adopting the “Kratom consumer protection acts.” It will allow the vendors to sell Kratom and use its products, depending on the quality of the kratom products.
3. Effects Of Kratom
If Kratom is taken in low doses, it is potent enough to increase energy, alertness, and sociability. Kratom also can cause uncomfortable mental health and create some physical health conditions. They can be :
Loss of appetite
In addition, Kratom is also known to give intoxication side effects, which are much similar to opioid side effects misuse. Kratom interaction with the opioid receptors of the brain is often compared with the morphine interaction with the brain.
The opioid medications get attached to the opioid receptors, resulting in a rush of neurotransmitters, the brain’s chemical messengers. If the neurotransmitters of the brain are elevated, it helps improve mood. It also helps regulate mood and influences a person’s decision-making ability.
However, you can compare the symptoms of Kratom misuse with opioid misuse. But, kratom misuse often results in psychosis, a mental disorder in someone’s thoughts and emotions. It results in abnormal control of someone’s emotions, and it can cause people to lose touch and reality.
Reasons For Kratom Being Popular
FDA outlaws kratom as a dietary or nutritional supplement; it is available widely and at a lower price than approved medicines. Currently, methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine are some leftover approved medications by the FDA. However, no such facts prove that Kratom’s use is harmless and a safe choice for opioid substitutes.
In 1836, OUD was treated by Kratom. The treatment reports include some analgesic, antipyretic effects, and anti-inflammatory effects. People across Europe and the United States have started heavy use of the recreational Kratom. Since it is easy to access from anywhere on the internet, the main component derivates the 7-hydroxy mitragynine is a regulated essence in some countries beyond the United States.
Though Kratom is being widely used, the practitioners must be sufficiently informed and contribute to the clinical evidence. Simultaneously, the medical practitioners and the consumers of Kratom are advised to report any adverse effects to the FDA MedWatch program.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are drugs derived from analogs means, made from both natural and synthetic products, and have been used by humanity for years to reduce pain and some other conditions like cough and diarrhea.
As a result, the use of opioids has increased for the euphoric effects. Even the attitudes of the drug sellers, medical professionals, and the American public has changed based on the opioids use for pain management.
In the late 19th century, due to opioid abuse, opioids were not regulated, and opioids were widely available for everyday use without any medical guidance or proper prescription. Due to this, people started to use opioids in massive amounts. They developed a dependency on opioids for pain relief, which further restricted access to opioids by Federal laws.
Later, in the first 20th century, people reduced the use of opioids due to the restriction. But in the 1960s, the use of medical and recreational opioids both soared and thus changed the regulations and attitudes of the government. They had to modify the law and became more strict in giving access to opioids. It lasted till the mid-1990s and the early 2000s, when the marketing of opioid products increased and gave significant changes in regulatory policies.
Kratom Effects On The Body
Researches are still ongoing based on how kratom compounds affect the body. Kratom users can get health effects with both long-term and short-term Kratom use. Based on early studies and reports, a person can have varying side effects.
1. Varying Effects
Like all other drugs, even Kratom depends on the amount consumed. In addition to this, the concentration and the strength of the amount taken to formulate the product also play a vital role in the effects.
Kratom users can face side effects if they have some medical conditions and have faced some effects previously. The effects of Kratom are challenging to predict since it varies from person to person.
2. Opioids And Stimulant Side Effects
People who use Kratom often report the stimulant effects, which generally include increased energy, rapid heart rate, and alertness. Even they complain about facing effects similar to opioids and sedatives like relaxation, confusion, and pain relief.
Most people who use Kratom even report that on taking smaller doses, they face stimulant effects, but when they take larger doses, they have to face the effects of opioid use. However, there is no concrete evidence to prove that the effects of Kratom depend on the amount or method of Kratom consumed.
3. Drug Interactions
Some studies suggest that people who use Kratom also use other drugs due to some conditions for which medications are prescribed. Using Kratom and other drugs in combination, often called polysubstance, can produce some adverse side effects for the consumer.
A person can face severe side effects on the liver or even die from consuming Kratom and prescription opioids and medicines. Researchers need to dive deeper to know if Kratom can be used along with other substances or not.
4. Therapeutic Effects Of Kratom
People have used Kratom to treat pain for a long time now. Most people have confessed to using Kratom for treating pain, anxiety, fatigue, drug cravings, depression, and withdrawal symptoms. However, it is not proven that Kratom is safe or effective for medical purposes.
5. Severe Adverse Effects Ranging From Mild To Severe
People who use Kratom have reported some mild side effects due to Kratom exposure. People with Kratom use have faced nausea, dizziness, constipation, and drowsiness. In some of the clinical reports, it is seen that patients who have some serious adverse effects related to Kratom exposure have some common problems like :
Mental and neurological symptoms include tremors, seizures, and confusion.
High blood pressure
However, a minimal number of death cases were linked to Kratom use.
Is Kratom Safe To Use?
The United States and international agencies have stated their concern for Kratom products, which can seriously hard the body. It has some serious adverse side effects. There are no FDA-approved drugs from the Kratom products, and they have strictly warned consumers not to use the Kratom products.
Still, the question remains for many consumers whether or not Kratom is safe to use.
1. Harmful Contents in Kratom
As stated above, there are no approved products by the FDA made from Kratom. The foods have contaminants that can produce some side effects on the body, which is not only related to Kratom and its compounds alone.
2. Adverse Effects
People who use Kratom have side effects of nausea, constipation, and drowsiness. Patients with a wide range of severe effects of Kratom exposure have mental and neurological symptoms and heart and lung problems. Even some patients can face gastrointestinal problems and cardiovascular system problems.
Since there are so many side effects of Kratom, it is advisable not to consume Kratom products.
3. Drug Interactions
Kratom interacts with other drugs which are consumed for other health problems. Kratom can have severe adverse effects when it reacts with other drugs for liver and heart problems.
Can Kratom Be Used As A Medicine?
NIDA and the other institutes for NIH support have conducted some research evaluating the potential medicinal use of Kratom and the other kratom compounds. Though Kratom has not proven safe enough for any useful medical purpose, some countries use Kratom as a self-medicate to relieve pain, depression, substance withdrawal, and anxiety.
But some studies have proved that Kratom has other therapeutic properties, including anti-depressant and pain-relieving properties.
However, previous studies proved that Kratom and its products were used to treat substance use disorder and opioid use disorder. This treatment is required to help cure the card the drug overdose epidemic in the United States.
Kratom In Treating Withdrawal Symptoms Of Substance Use Disorder
Withdrawal and substance use disorder are both related to the use of Kratom, though they have not been thoroughly studied.
So, currently, there are no approved medical therapies for these conditions, especially from Kratom products. Health care providers use other medications and therapies to wipe off the symptoms of withdrawal and substance use disorder.
There are many serious effects found among the consumers of Kratom. NIDA researchers have confirmed the cases, including psychiatric, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and respiratory depression.
Is Kratom an opiate? We hope the answer to this question is now clear to you. It is not an opioid, but due to the restrictions on opioid use, people started to use Kratom as an opioid. In addition to this, Kratom has similar effects to the use of opioids.
So, it is highly recommended not to use Kratom since it can cause you some serious health complications. Also, you must check the facts of the FDA more often to know which Kratom products are dangerous and which are not.
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