Can I use kratom for IBS? Some people suffering from IBS, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease have found in kratom a new ally for their conditions. But how does kratom affect IBS? What are its benefits and side effects? In this post, we will explore how kratom can (or cannot) help IBS patients.
What Is IBS?
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a common condition that affects the intestines. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, roughly 12 percent of the American population suffers from IBS.
The causes of IBS are not completely clear, but it seems that infections in the digestive tract, gut sensitivity, digestive issues, and even stress could be some of the factors that trigger this condition. Also, people with relatives with irritable bowel syndrome have a higher risk of suffering this disease. Often, people with IBS may also suffer from fibromyalgia, chronic pain, or chronic fatigue syndrome.
The symptoms of IBS often include diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, mucus in the stool, and the feeling that the bowel movement is incomplete.
Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
While IBS is not an inflammatory condition, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s are the main types of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). IBD conditions are chronic and have no cure. Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation of the colon and rectum, whereas Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract (although it mostly affects the small intestine and the first part of the colon).
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Joint pain
The causes of IBD are not clear, but this type of disease seems to be more common in patients with celiac disease. Moreover, some unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking or a sedentary lifestyle, could also be risk factors for IBD. Genetics seems also to play a role in the development of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
Kratom: An Overview
Kratom is the name most commonly given to Mitragyna speciosa, an evergreen tree in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia. For many centuries, the native population of Thailand or Indonesia used the leaves of kratom to fight pain or to get a boost of energy. But it is only recently that kratom has gained popularity in the Western world. Nowadays, thousands of people have found out that the dry leaves of kratom can help them cope with pain, relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression, or combat fatigue.
But how does kratom work? Kratom contains more than 20 alkaloids, although the most abundant one is mitragynine. These alkaloids have anti-inflammatory properties and act on the opioid receptors in your brain to trigger a series of effects, such as analgesia or euphoria.
The list of kratom effects include:
Hence, kratom users consume this substance for:
- Combating pain
- Relieving the symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Getting an energy boost and fighting fatigue
- Relaxing and relieving stress
- Fighting insomnia
This wide array of effects depends mostly on two factors: the kratom dose and the kratom strain you are using. Generally speaking, kratom is more stimulating at low doses and more sedating at high doses. Also, the kratom type you use could also affect its effects.
There are three kratom types: white kratom, red kratom, and green kratom. But there are also many sub-varieties (or strains) named after the place of origin of that kratom strain or other factors. For instance, you can find red Bali kratom, green Malay kratom or white Maeng Da kratom. White kratom strains are usually the most energizing varieties, while red strains are the most relaxing ones (in some cases, they can even have sedative effects, so you should be very careful with the dosage). Green strains comprise the whole spectrum of kratom effects, but they are often less potent than the white and red varieties.
Kratom for IBS
Sadly, there aren’t that many scientific studies focused on kratom, let alone on kratom for IBS or IBD. Therefore, we must rely on anecdotal evidence to learn how kratom affects these conditions.
IBS, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis patients who use kratom to alleviate their symptoms agree that this plant helps them relieve the abdominal pain. But the most noticeable improvement is that kratom helps them combat diarrhea. One of kratom’s most common side effects is constipation. Kratom slows bowel movements and, as a result, kratom consumers often need to take fiber supplements to avoid kratom constipation.
But in the case of IBS or IBD patients, this side effect is actually a blessing, since diarrhea is a common symptom of these conditions.
Moreover, kratom also helps IBS patients manage stress and anxiety, commonly associated with this disease. In the case ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, people with these conditions also see improvements in chronic pain and fatigue (which are often symptoms of these conditions).
Nonetheless, although kratom relieves the symptoms of IBS or IBD it will not heal these conditions. Also, if you are using medications for your condition, make sure you ask your doctor if they are compatible with kratom.
Side Effects of Kratom
Is it safe to use kratom for IBS, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease? Well, as we mentioned above, there is no research on the effectiveness and safety of kratom for these conditions. But also, other than constipation, kratom has other side effects:
- Nausea and stomachache
- Headaches and migraines
- Eye wobbles
- Libido loss
The best way to avoid the side effects of kratom is being cautious with the dosage. If you are new to kratom, we recommend you start with a dose between 2 and 3 grams. Then, you can gradually increase your dosage. You can use this guide to know how kratom you could use:
- 2-4 grams: Low dose
- 4-5 grams: Medium dose
- 5-8 grams: High dose
Also, you should avoid taking kratom daily. Otherwise, you will soon notice the effects of kratom tolerance, which occurs when your body needs higher amounts of kratom to feel its effects.