Kratom users swear to the effectiveness of this plant. But are kratom health benefits real? Or is kratom a dangerous, ineffective substance like its opponents claim? Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tree in the Rubiaceae family native to Southeastern Asia that grows in Indonesia, Thailand or the Philippines. For a very long time, workers and farmers in these regions used to chew the leaves of kratom to increase the stamina levels that would help them endure their harsh labor conditions. Kratom also allowed them to cope with pain and was a natural remedy for diarrhea. Moreover, they also consumed kratom to cope with opium addiction.
Today, kratom popularity has skyrocketed outside Asia and millions of people around the world are using this natural substance to relieve the symptoms of many ailments and conditions. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of kratom for your health. But we will also take a look at what both users and science say about kratom and its benefits.
Kratom Health Benefits
What are the health benefits of kratom? The leaves of this Asian tree contain alkaloids that act on some of your opioid receptors. These receptors regulate pain, stress, mood, mood or rewarding behavior. Hence, by activating these receptors, kratom might help regulate and alleviate:
- Symptoms of a withdrawal
Thanks to this range of effects, the use of kratom has skyrocketed in the last decade. According to the American Kratom Association, there are over 15 million kratom users in the US alone. Many of these individuals consume kratom to cope with chronic pain. According to these users, the analgesic properties of kratom help them cope with the pain associated with arthritis, fibromyalgia or other conditions. For these people, kratom is a lifesaver and has allowed them to live a so-called “normal life”. Also, other users report that thanks to kratom they can manage depression or anxiety disorders. Do not forget that kratom was already a common remedy to relieve pain and increase energy for centuries in Southeast Asia.
But kratom is also becoming a popular product to cope with the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. And many people overcoming other types of addictions (drugs, alcohol…) claim that kratom is one of the most helpful products they have ever found.
Are Kratom Health Benefits Real? What does Science Say?
But what does science say? Does science support these claims? Or is kratom a placebo? Just like different studies point out, by acting on the opioid receptors, kratom alkaloids can modulate energy, pain or mood. Hence, it is only logical to believe that kratom really could bring these effects. A 2016 study commissioned by the American Kratom Association (the Kratom 8-factor analysis) demonstrates that kratom has indeed pharmacological effects like its users claim. But there are more studies that support these claims. According to a study that took place in 2016, kratom’s alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine do have analgesic properties. As this study points out, kratom alkaloids “are an unusual class of opioid receptor modulators with distinct pharmacological properties”. And the analgesic effects of kratom may likely be due to its effects on the mu receptor.
There are also studies that seem to confirm kratom effects on mood and mental issues. A 2017 survey showed that most kratom users who used this herb for mood disorders or depression perceived improvement in their symptoms. Moreover, a 2011 study also proved that kratom’s alkaloids have antidepressant effects on mice. Finally, a 2018 study on kratom reports that this plant may also alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.
Moreover, the National Institute for Abuse on Drug (NIDA) has awarded the University of Florida a multi-million grant to study the potential of kratom to treat opioid dependence.
Kratom Risks: How to Use Kratom Safely
There is a lot of controversy surrounding kratom. Despite its millions of users and defenders, there are many other voices who claim that kratom is a dangerous substance. And while kratom might be allegedly involved in almost 100 deaths, many scientists and media have debunked this claim. In fact, in most of these cases, the victims had consumed dangerous substances (in many cases, opioids or opiates). Also, other sources claim that kratom is an opioid. But is that so? According to a 2019 study, unlike opioids, kratom “does not lead to recruitment of β-arrestin 2 which has been associated with many of the undesired effects of opioid receptor activation such as […] respiratory depression.” Also, there is no evidence that confirms whether kratom is addictive.
However, little is known about the effects and risks of mixing kratom and other substances, such as opioids or potent medications. Therefore, you should not combine kratom with opioids, opiates, or certain medications such as antidepressants or anxiolytic drugs.
But kratom could also cause side effects, especially when you use large doses or consume kratom on a daily basis. The side effects of kratom include:
- Eye wobbles
The best way to avoid these unpleasant side effects is by being cautious with your dosage. You can learn more about kratom doses in this post. Additionally, rotating kratom strains regularly could also help you prevent both side effects and kratom tolerance.
The Anecdotal Evidence: Is Kratom a Placebo?
Science seems to confirm the effectiveness of kratom. However, we should not forget about the anecdotal evidence. There are millions of people consuming kratom to relieve the symptoms of many health issues. If kratom were ineffective or a placebo, why would so many individuals claim that kratom is helping them? Why would so many people fight to protect kratom from banning? For millions of people, kratom is a miracle that has helped them gain their life back. And we should never forget about that.