If you are curious about what does kratom do, this guide will answer all of your questions in the next five minutes. Kratom is a botanical product that has been growing in popularity in the West for years as both a recreational drug and potential therapeutic intervention for managing pain, anxiety, PTSD, and opiate withdrawal symptoms.
When consumers ingest kratom tea or smoke the dried, crushed leaves, they can produce either stimulating or sedative effects depending on the dose. Little is known about how the plant has these effects, but researchers believe they are related to the plant’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory alkaloids.
Some users report psychoactive effects and feelings of euphoria, but few are aware of the full range of impact kratom has on the body and mind. Not all of these effects are beneficial, so users should educate themselves before taking kratom to make informed decisions.
What Does Kratom Do?
Researchers have not yet spent enough time investigating kratom to understand fully how it works. They know it contains the active ingredient mitragynine, and most think that this compound binds to opioid receptors in the brain to produce stimulant or sedative effects. That being said, kratom is not an opiate.
Most of the information about what kratom does currently comes from anecdotal accounts rather than rigorous scientific research. Users report feeling energized, focused, and euphoric when taking small doses of kratom. They also say relaxing and sedative effects at higher doses.
Kratom is a famous botanical agent for managing chronic pain. Those who use it for this purpose report an alleviation of their symptoms that isn’t accompanied by the same level of fatigue and mental confusion associated with prescription painkillers. Some consumers even use kratom to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms, and there are various anecdotal reports of its effectiveness for this use.
Now that you have a general idea of what kind of subjective experience kratom produces let’s take a look at the seven effects of kratom:
1. Kratom Effects on Your Pupils
Using kratom can cause pupil constriction or miosis. This refers to the reduction in the size of a consumer’s pupils under standard lighting. Pupil constriction can make it more difficult for people to see in low-light conditions.
2. Kratom Effects on Your Brain
There are two compounds found in kratom leaves that interact with opioid receptors in the brain: mitragynine and 7-a-hydroxymitragynine. These substances behave as partial opioid receptor agonists or antagonists, depending on which receptors’ activities are being analyzed. Kratom also functions as an agonist within the brain’s norepinephrine and serotonin receptor systems and can serve as an NMDA receptor antagonist, causing dissociative effects at high doses.
3. Kratom Effects on Your Liver
As more consumers have begun to turn to kratom for pain relief and help with opioid withdrawals, incidences of liver damage have been on the rise. So far, researchers don’t know what about the herbal supplement that could be causing liver damage. Still, several case studies indicate that consuming kratom tea in excessive amounts can lead to liver injuries, including acute hepatitis. In most cases, liver damage caused by kratom use is reversible.
4. Kratom Effects on Your Blood Pressure
Kratom trees are in the same family as coffee, so it should come as no surprise that ingesting the leaves can impact consumers’ blood pressure. Like coffee, it can increase consumers’ heart rates. It can also increase blood pressure, causing hypertension in some consumers. It’s best for those with preexisting hypertension to stick to low doses of this herbal supplement to reduce heart disease and strokes. Amounts ranging from 2g to 6g have not been reported to affect blood pressure.
5. Kratom Effects on Your Stomach
Since some people have sensitive stomachs, many herbal supplements can cause trouble when taken on an empty stomach. Some consumers report nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea. The easiest way to avoid these unwanted side effects for those with stomach issues is to take kratom only after eating a healthy meal and stick to low doses that are less likely to cause digestive upset.
6. Kratom Effects on Your Kidneys
Kidney damage is a secondary problem in regular kratom users, not a primary side effect. Those few consumers who experience acute liver problems wind up placing more strain on their kidneys to filter out toxins, increasing the risk of renal failure. Anyone experiencing worrying symptoms like dark urine or jaundice should stop using kratom immediately and schedule liver and kidney function tests with his or her doctor.
7. Kratom Effects on Your Thyroid
There is some limited evidence that long-term kratom use may cause thyroid problems. Some researchers believe that the mitragynine found in this botanical substance might reduce the thyroid gland’s ability to respond generally to thyroid-stimulating hormones. This assumption is based on one widely publicized case study of a patient who developed severe primary hyperthyroidism after prolonged kratom use. More targeted research will need to be performed to show causation.
Is Kratom Safe?
As you have already seen, long-term use of massive doses of kratom can produce unwanted side effects and adversely affect your health. It’s essential to recognize that every herbal supplement and even pharmaceutical drugs have adverse effects on the body when taken in excessive quantities; however, kratom has not studied in-depth.
So far, most anecdotal evidence about the potential ill effects of kratom point to problems with combining the herbal supplement with other drugs or alcohol. When taken in reasonable doses, kratom may produce minor side effects that resolve within a day. Very few consumers report severe complications that require medical treatment, especially in comparison to those using opioid drugs to treat chronic pain conditions instead.
Like actual opioids, kratom does come with some risk of dependence and addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, depression, and insomnia, but fewer than 10% of consumers who report regular kratom use become physically dependent to the point where withdrawal symptoms could occur. Those who plan to use kratom to make it easier to stop a real opioid habit should also note that the severity of withdrawal symptoms associated with kratom is generally much lower.
Like all herbal supplements, kratom is also unregulated by the FDA. That means it’s up to consumers to do their homework regarding the purity and concentration of their products. Purchasing kratom from a reputable vendor that is willing to provide lab results and sticking to recommended dosages can reduce the risks associated with kratom consumption.
How Often Should I Use Kratom to Avoid Long Term Side Effects
Chronic kratom use can lead to more substantial side effects. They can include constipation and loss of appetite, leading to unintended weight loss, insomnia, hyperpigmentation of the cheeks, and itchiness. The long-term effects of using kratom haven’t been studied very well yet, so the prevalence and severity of these side effects are not very well understood.
Start by taking no more than 2 to 3g of kratom. Every person’s tolerance to this popular substance will be different; therefore, don’t assume that you can take the same dose as your more experienced friend without producing harmful side effects. Instead, take things very slow and expect to develop a tolerance over time.
Those who want to avoid the risk of both long-term side effects and developing a physical dependency on kratom should take only the lowest effective doses on an as-needed basis. You’ll have to tailor your dosing schedule to your own needs, including your personal preference when it comes to risk aversion. Most experienced consumers take kratom no more than once or twice per day. While the effects tend to wear off in seven to eight hours, leaving ample time between doses makes it less likely that you’ll develop a physical dependency or a high tolerance. It can also reduce the risk of adverse effects.
Whenever you take kratom, you should pay attention to how your body responds. Consider keeping a log that details each instance of consumption, how much you took, how effective the dose was, and the side effects you experienced. Keep in mind, you can always increase your amount the next day, but you can’t do anything about it if you’ve already taken more kratom than your body can handle.