Is Kratom an Opiate: 5 Must Know Effects

Kratom, or mitragyna speciosa is an evergreen tree that is indigenous to Southeast Asia. But, is Kratom an opiate?

When ingested, the kratom leaves1 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?

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. 

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?

Before delving into if is Kratom an opiate, let’s discuss what Kratom is.

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 fresh kratom leaves as a mild stimulant that can help reduce fatigue, even help relieve pain, and as an opioid substitute.

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Kratom leaves are suspected of having more than 40 active alkaloids and the two best-categorized alkaloids, mitragynine and the 7-hydroxy mitragynine. Mitragynine 2has 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.

So, 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’s opioid receptors as the medicines do.

The interaction of Kratom with the brain is the main reason why FDA 3has 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 opioids4. 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 some withdrawal symptoms, and the side effects of Kratom are much similar to opioids.

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Most opioids and recreational substances are potent enough to overdose on Kratom, but the treatments for opioid overdose are much similar to 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.

Now that you know if is Kratom an opiate, let’s delve deeper.

1. Working on 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 5release 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.

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 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 :

  • Itching

  • Sweating

  • Dry Mouth

  • Nausea

  • Increased urination

  • Constipation

  • Seizures

  • Loss of appetite

  • Hallucinations

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 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 6of 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.

So now that you are well aware if is Kratom an opiate, you must think why is it so 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 heavily using 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, medical practitioners and consumers of Kratom are advised to report any adverse effects to the FDA MedWatch program.

What are Opioids?

Is Kratom an opiate? What exactly are opioids?

Opioids are drugs derived from analog 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 have changed based on the opioids used for pain management.

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Kratom Effects on the Body

Research is 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.

Early studies and reports show that a person can have varying side effects, irrespective of if is Kratom an opiate.

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 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.

  • Heart problems

  • Lungs problems

  • High blood pressure

  • Vomiting

  • Slow breathing

  • Gastrointestinal problems

  • Nausea

  • Liver problems

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 harm 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.

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Still, the question remains for many consumers whether or not Kratom is safe to use.

1. Harmful Contents of 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.

It includes some heavy metals and also some harmful bacteria. Even some of the reports have found similar contamination in other products of Kratom, which are marketed as herbal supplements.

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 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.

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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 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. Healthcare providers use other medications and therapies to wipe off the symptoms of withdrawal and substance use disorder.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the FDA warning on kratom?

The FDA has advised consumers not to consume kratom due to the potential for serious side effects such as liver poisoning, epileptic fits, and addiction to drugs.

2. What effects does kratom have on pain?

Kratom, through reacting to opioid receptors, may be an efficient pain reliever.

3. What is the antagonist of kratom?

The opiate receptor antagonist naloxone blocks the receptor agonist activity of kratom alkaloids.

Bottom Line

So, is Kratom an opiate? There are many serious effects found among the consumers of Kratom. NIDA researchers have confirmed the cases, including psychiatric, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and respiratory depression.

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 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.

If you liked this article on if is Kratom an opiate, comment your thoughts below!

  1. Goh, Yong Sean, et al. “Accelerated solvent extractions (ASE) of Mitragyna speciosa Korth.(Kratom) leaves: Evaluation of its cytotoxicity and antinociceptive activity.” Molecules 26.12 (2021): 3704. ↩︎
  2. Karunakaran, Thiruventhan, et al. “The chemical and pharmacological properties of mitragynine and its diastereomers: An insight review.” Frontiers in Pharmacology 13 (2022): 805986. ↩︎
  3. Bhutani, Priyadeep, et al. “US FDA approved drugs from 2015–June 2020: a perspective.” Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 64.5 (2021): 2339-2381. ↩︎
  4. Powell, David, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, and Erin Taylor. “How increasing medical access to opioids contributes to the opioid epidemic: Evidence from Medicare Part D.” Journal of health economics 71 (2020): 102286. ↩︎
  5. Voelker, Sarah E., et al. “Evaluation of four field portable devices for the rapid detection of mitragynine in suspected kratom products.” Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis 201 (2021): 114104. ↩︎
  6. Jiang, Shu-Heng, et al. “Neurotransmitters: emerging targets in cancer.” Oncogene 39.3 (2020): 503-515. ↩︎

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