Is kratom good or bad? Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) has gained a lot of attraction because its effects are helping millions of people. But also due to the same these effects, there is a lot of controversy around kratom. And while for its users kratom is a lifesaver, for others, kratom is a dangerous substance that should be banned.
In today’s article, we will explore kratom’s effects and try to answer the question of whether kratom is good or bad.
Some Basic Facts About Mitragyna Speciosa
Mitragyna speciosa is a tree in the Rubiaceae family that grows in the humid jungles of Southeast Asia. It is commonly known as ketum or kratom. For many years, the native population of those regions would chew or brew the leaves of kratom in order to fight fatigue or relieve pain.
But now the popularity of kratom has spread all over the world, and local farmers (especially in Indonesia) handpick, dry, and grind the leaves of kratom that are exported afterward.
How does Kratom Help People?
But why is kratom so popular? Why are millions of people using this greenish powder? Because of the effects that kratom alkaloids bring about. Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are kratom’s most potent alkaloids. Together with the rest of the alkaloids and other active compounds, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine activate the mu and delta receptors in your brain, triggering a series of effects that include:
- Pain relief (or analgesia)
So, thanks to these effects, millions of people have turned to kratom to cope with:
- Pain (chronic or acute)
Kratom is also becoming a popular remedy to alleviate the cravings of opiate withdrawal. And even the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) has awarded a multi-million grant to study kratom’s potential to treat opioid addiction. Furthermore, many users claim that kratom also helps them increase motivation and improve focus.
Thanks to all these properties, millions of kratom users claim that this leaf is a lifesaver for them. In many cases, kratom has helped them gain their lives back, as thanks to this plant they can finally manage pain, anxiety or depression.
The Kratom Controversy
So if kratom has so many positive effects, why the controversy and the bad publicity? Is kratom good or bad?
The kratom controversy is very much due to how kratom works. As we mention above, kratom’s alkaloids bind to the mu and delta receptors. But these receptors are part of the opioid system. As you can imagine, the word “opioid” is somehow related to, well, opioids. The opioid system comprises opioid receptors (like the mu and delta receptors), but also endogenous opioids (that is, opioids that your own body produces). And this system gets this name because it is activated by opioids and opiates. However, there are other products, such as milk proteins, dark chocolate, and even light, that can also impact your opioid system.
Also, there is a big difference between kratom and opioids: kratom does not induce respiratory depression, which occurs when some opioids activate the mu receptors and is the main cause of opioid overdose deaths.
And yet, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), kratom is related to 152 overdose deaths that occurred between 2016 and 2017. 152 is not such a large number, especially if we consider that they were 152 out of more than 27,000 deaths examined. According to the medical examiners and coroners, kratom was determined to be a cause of death in 91 cases. However, kratom advocates and different media have found out that only in seven of these deaths kratom was the only substance in the deceased’s body.
In fact, toxicology tests proved that there were multiple substances in most cases. And roughly 80% of the people who died with kratom in their system also had a history of drug abuse, primarily heroin and fentanyl.
Is Kratom Good or Bad?
For kratom users whose life has improved drastically thanks to kratom, kratom is good. But for many official bodies and media, kratom is bad. But kratom bad publicity and misinformation often come from official sources. That’s why many people, unaware of how kratom really works, think that kratom is bad.
But most kratom users agree that kratom is a safe substance when taken properly. That is, at moderate doses and avoiding consuming it too often. Kratom does have side effects, and while they are not dangerous, they can be very unpleasant. The side effects of kratom include:
- Stomach upset
- Eye wobbles
So, keeping a moderate approach when taking kratom is key to safe use. And also, sharing how kratom really works and how it is helping people is very necessary to end with kratom’s bad reputation.