An overview of Kratom Side Effects
A plant that grows natively throughout Southeast Asia, a close cousin to coffee and gardenias, kratom has always been a popular all-natural and herbal remedy in this part of the world.
Beloved by the people of Thailand (and other nations throughout Southeast Asia) because of its healing and restorative properties, kratom has also been used effectively as a pain reliever thanks to its opiate-like benefits.
People throughout time have used kratom as an energy booster, as alternative medicine, and as a pain relief solution – but folks recently are starting to use kratom specifically to help fight back against the serious side effects and symptoms of opiate withdrawal.
Scientists have been finding new ways to make the most of all that kratom has to offer in this department since the year 2000, and in the last 20 years, major leaps forward have been made in leveraging this all-natural herb.
The modern medical community isn’t quite sure of what to make of kratom as a solution to fight back against opiate issues, though, and there are mixed messages about its effectiveness as a long-term solution in this area, too.
A lot of the pushback when it comes to kratom has to do with the fact that there are some serious and significant side effects long-term use of this herb brings to the table. In this quick guide we really dive deep into these side effects, examine the short-term impact that kratom may have on the body, all in hopes of giving you a clearer picture of all that kratom has to offer in the risk factors you may face using it in the future.
Let’s dig right in!
How harmful is kratom?
As we highlighted earlier, kratom has been used for hundreds of years (even longer, really) throughout Southeast Asia both as alternative medicine as well as recreationally.
Scientists do not argue that kratom has a very real and tangible impact on the way people feel, triggering many of the same receptors in the body that opioids trigger as well.
In fact, modern scientists and researchers have found that kratom triggers the exact same opioid receptors in the body that powerful chemical cocktails cooked up by pharmaceutical laboratories trigger – and that’s a big part of why kratom is so effective as an all-natural pain reliever.
More than 20 different biochemicals are contained within kratom that binds with these receptors, some of which may have a predilection towards physical dependence and addiction issues that folks struggling with opioid addiction are trying to get away from.
Yes, it’s true that throughout Southeast Asia kratom abuse is somewhat widespread – particularly in places like Thailand and Malaysia where it is banned completely as a recreational drug. But researchers are looking into whether sporadic use or very targeted usage, could have a positive impact on those that are already suffering so much when it comes to opioid addiction.
Over the last five years or so folks have been looking into whether or not the biochemicals within kratom have a negative impact on drug-metabolizing enzymes naturally occurring in our livers. Some are worried that kratom actually “cancels out” traditional opioid withdrawal medications, but as of right now the research hasn’t conclusively proven this to be true or not.
We do know that kratom can contribute to overdose issues (including fatalities) but usually only when used in conjunction with more traditional drugs like opioids.
Short-term health impacts of kratom
Kratom has a myriad of different short-term impacts on your health and wellness, the overwhelming majority of which are determined entirely by how much kratom you consume that any one particular point in time.
There’s a fine line between using kratom as a stimulant and as an opiate, and the amount of kratom in your system is going to have a huge impact on the benefits (and side effects) that are going to manifest in the short-term.
Lower-level dosages of kratom are used traditionally to provide the stimulant like benefits people throughout Southeast Asia have been getting from this herb for hundreds of years.
These dosages (usually between 1 g and 5 g) can provide a coffee-like stimulant energy boost for between 10 minutes and 90 minutes, depending entirely on how your body bonds to the specific biochemicals contained within this herb.
The overwhelming majority of people that use low dosages of this substance are going to experience increased energy and alertness, a decreased appetite, increased feelings of sociability, as well as increases to their overall libido – though some folks are going to feel stressed out, anxious, and agitated.
In higher-level dosages (between 5 g and 15 g) kratom has opioid-like impacts that can last anywhere between 90 minutes and a few hours.
The “high” that kratom produces is regularly reported as being less severe and less intense than traditional opioids, though many reports that it lasts far longer than traditional opioids would.
These higher dosages are also going to kick in the analgesia benefits that kratom offers, may bring about feelings of drowsiness, and a sweet spot between 5 g and 15 g is being looked into when it comes to opioid withdrawal symptom reduction.
Serious side effects of kratom
Most of the serious side effects you have to worry about when it comes to kratom are related to longer-term usage of this all-natural herb, though there are reports of individuals struggling with the side effects we highlight below after a relatively short amount of time using this substance.
For starters, it isn’t at all uncommon for individuals that use kratom on a regular basis to deal with facial flushing and feelings of warmth all over their body for as long as kratom is working in their system. Redness of the skin, irritation, and itchiness isn’t uncommon, either.
Folks that have been using kratom for an extended amount of time usually have to deal with a pupillary constriction as well, and some report having a difficult time focusing their vision, a blurriness of their vision, and difficulty focusing their attention on any one particular thing.
Tremors and a loss of fine motor skills, constipation, constant sweating, feelings of nausea and vomiting, and general irritation and agitation issues are also closely related to longer-term usage of kratom.
The more side effects that kratom brings to the table, however, include high liver toxicity issues that can wreak havoc on your overall well-being.
The overwhelming majority of people that suffer from these kinds of serious side effects usually have been abusing kratom for extended amounts of time, consuming 15 g of kratom or more multiple times throughout the day for weeks or months on end.
Those that have these kinds of sky-high dosages of kratom are also going to suffer from issues like seizures, fainting, and similar withdrawal symptoms to those that are suffering from opiate withdrawal issues.
Hyperpigmentation (darkening of your skin) has been observed in individuals that use high dosages of kratom on a regular basis, as has instances of anorexia and significant weight loss. There are even reports out of Thailand that individuals that abuse kratom on a chronic basis and up going through what’s considered “kratom psychosis” – a long-term mental health issue that can be very difficult to resolve without serious medical intervention.
Potential for serious addiction issues
At the end of the day, almost all researchers agree that kratom poses a very real and serious risk when it comes to dependence and addiction side effects over the long-term.
This has a lot to do with the 20 different biochemicals in kratom that trigger opioid receptors in the body, but most interesting the researchers have found that these kinds of addiction and dependency side effects to trigger in individuals that have been using kratom for as little as three months – and some of them only using kratom on a sporadic basis.
This makes kratom one of the most addictive all-natural substances out there, a substance that can wreak havoc on your short or long-term health if it is abused even for just a short while.
Individuals that are going to be taking advantage of all kratom has to offer are encouraged to make sure that they are taking small dosages, are taking frequent breaks from using kratom, and are going through longer “cycles” where they aren’t using any kratom for at least four weeks or more at a time to sort of reset their body.
If you are experiencing any negative side effects stemming from kratom usage it’s important that you reach out to medical professionals ASAP and immediately discontinue using this all-natural substance, too.
Many of the side effects can be reversed if intervention happens early enough, with longer-term issues being more challenging to overcome (for obvious reasons). With the right diagnosis and the right recovery routine, however, almost all of these issues can be overcome quite quickly.