For centuries, native people from southeastern Asia have been using kratom (mitragyna speciosa) as a remedy for mitigating pain or as a natural energizer. Nowadays, kratom is gaining popularity in Western countries thanks to its multiple benefits (pain relief, sedative and relaxing, energy booster, euphoric…). Thanks to them, kratom is becoming a natural alternative to opioid painkillers or to traditional antidepressants. Furthermore, kratom is also an excellent remedy to alleviate the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. But despite its benefits, the issue of kratom dangers arises often.
Kratom is so effective thanks to its more than 20 alkaloids, such mitragynine or 7. These alkaloids block the opioid receptors of the brain (such as the mu or delta receptors). These brain receptors get this name because they are affected by opiates (from opioid painkillers to heroin). And yes, kratom can act on them the same way opiates do. But kratom is not an opiate. However, this is one of the reasons why many people wonder: “Can kratom be dangerous for me?”
While kratom is relatively safe, some potential health issues may arise if it is consumed in excess or used improperly. This is something that happens with every substance, even water can turn out deadly if consumed in excess!
In this post, we will explore the potential health issues and dangers due to an improper use of kratom.
Can Kratom Be Dangerous?
In general, kratom is usually a quite safe substance. Especially if compared to opioid painkillers, whose incidence of dependence is very high. Furthermore, opioid painkillers carry a high risk of deadly overdose. While kratom is much safer, you should be cautious with it. Taking too much kratom can produce unpleasant side effects. Also, mixing kratom with alcohol, illicit drugs or prescribed medications could bring about serious issues.
Kratom Dangers: Kratom Overdose
As it happens with any other substance, it is possible to overdose on kratom. But while it is commonly believed that overdoses are always deadly, this is not necessarily so. An overdose is an excessively high dose of a substance which results in unpleasant (sometimes even dangerous) side effects. In the case of some substances, overdoses can be very dangerous, even lethal. In the case of kratom, overdose symptoms usually include:
- Stomach upset
- Eye wobbles
- Slow respiration
In some cases, it may be wise to seek medical help.
In order to avoid kratom overdose, it is crucial to be cautious with the dosage. Bear in mind that kratom potency may vary depending on the kratom strain and quality (which is why it is so important to buy kratom from reliable vendors).
But the way kratom affects someone may vary depending on such individual. When you consume kratom, it is always wise to start with a conservative dose and wait between 60 and 30 minutes until you can fully feel the effects of kratom. Only if after that time you still could not notice the effects you were seeking, you could take an additional dose.
Kratom Dangers: Kratom and Driving
Even though kratom does not cause the dramatic symptoms of alcohol, antidepressants or painkillers, it is not safe to drive under the effects of kratom. Remember that kratom can be sedative, and its side effects may include dizziness, drowsiness or eye wobbles. These and other effects of kratom could potentially damage your senses or perception, so if you have taken kratom do not operate any vehicle.
Kratom Dangers: Perception and Mood Alteration
In principle, the relaxation and euphoria brought about by kratom is not dangerous. However, when used too often (e.g. daily), kratom can alter your mood and perception, which can turn out troublesome when taking decisions. Because of this, it is important to be aware of the effects kratom can have on mood, sense, and perception, and to avoid taking important decisions while under its influence.
Kratom Health Issues: Kratom Dependence
Daily or frequent use, especially at large doses, can lead to the development of a kratom dependence or addiction. Whereas it is commonly assumed that kratom dependence is only psychological and not physical, kratom withdrawal symptoms are still hard to endure, even if they are primarily psychosomatic. Due to the lack of research on kratom dependence and addiction, it is hard to establish whether kratom dependence is only psychological or also physical. Also, the evidence to consider is merely anecdotal.
But whether psychological or physical, kratom withdrawal can include very uncomfortable symptoms, such as dizziness, migraines, nausea, anxiety or insomnia. To avoid kratom tolerance it is highly advisable to gradually lower the dosage and frequency and to avoid consuming kratom on a daily basis. Trying different kratom strains can also be useful, as each kratom strain contains a different set of alkaloids.
Kratom Health Issues: Liver and Kidney Issues
One of the major concerns among kratom users is the impact of kratom on liver and kidneys. Many users wonder if kratom can damage their liver or their kidneys. And it is only logical to have these concerns, as certain medications can heavily affect these organs. Because can kratom also harm your kidneys or your liver?
Even though there aren’t any studies on the impact of kratom on kidneys and liver, according to anecdotal evidence there is no link between kratom and liver or kidneys damage. There is one single case of a liver disease associated to kratom consume. It refers German man who suffered from a intrahepatic cholestasis after consuming very high doses of kratom for several weeks. But the doses of kratom he was consuming were abnormally high and not recommended at all.
In fact, individuals who use kratom to cope with opiate withdrawal or who have switched from opioid painkillers to kratom claim that their liver and kidneys have improved after the change. In any case, it is essential to have regular checkups. Thus you’ll make sure there aren’t any substances or medications affecting your body.
Kratom Health Issues: Upset Stomach
Unfortunately, nausea, vomiting, and stomach aches are common kratom side effects, especially when taking high doses. Certain effects require higher dosages of kratom.
Depending on the desired effect, a user may need up to 10 grams of kratom to achieve it, or even more (for instance, if you are using raw powder you will need a higher dose, as it needs to be blended with juices, apple sauce or another sweet food). But by consuming these high doses chances are that you feel stomach ache and nausea. Furthermore, in individuals with a sensitive stomach, the discomfort may even last during the following day. Good news is that nausea or stomachache are relatively easy to avoid.
The most important step is to use lower doses; in order to achieve relaxing or painkilling effects with lower doses, try kratom strains which are considered more suitable for such effects, like red kratom varieties. Also, drink a lot of water or fruit juice to avoid dehydration.
The intake method can also affect kratom’s side effects: taking kratom brewed into tea or in capsules with food and with an over-the-counter medication for digestive issues (e.g., Pepto-Bismol) can help you prevent nausea or stomach upset.
Kratom Health Issues: Constipation
Constipation is another issue that users commonly found. Kratom can cause gastroparesis, a condition that slows the normal movement of the stomach muscles. Due to this, the food cannot move properly into the intestine and moves slower than usual. The result is constipation and abdominal pain.
In order to avoid gastroparesis and constipation, it is essential that you drink plenty of fluids while taking kratom. Eating high fiber food is also very useful to prevent kratom constipation. If you are already suffering from kratom constipation or gastroparesis, try taking a mild laxative to mitigate it. Fiber supplements, prune juice or mineral oil can also turn out helpful in treating constipation. Take into account that constipation could eventually become chronic. Follow the tips below to avoid kratom constipation:
- Keep a healthy diet
- Eat high fiber foods
- Take fiber supplements
- Drink plenty of fluids