What is Kratom? Benefits and Side Effects

Kratom comes from Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. It is an exotic tree. The leaves of the tree contain active compounds, including mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine, which are known for their psychoactive effects.

However, the research on Kratom is still greatly limited, so it is not often prescribed medically. Moreover, it is also illegal in various countries due to the dangerous side effects it can produce. But it has its good sides that lead people to use them for various purposes. In this article, we will have a glimpse at both the positive and negative sides of Kratom.

Benefits of Kratom

Kratom has been used traditionally for centuries as a natural remedy for pain relief and fatigue and as a stimulant to enhance energy and focus. It has become more popular in the West as a natural way to treat chronic pain, nervousness, and sadness instead of taking pills.

  • Pain relief: Kratom has traditionally been used to alleviate pain, and some people have reported that it can be effective for conditions such as chronic pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. This is because the alkaloids present in Kratom can interact with the body’s mu-opioid receptors, which are responsible for sending pain signals to the brain, and when activated, they can produce pain relief.
  • Energy and focus: Kratom has stimulant properties that some people find helpful for boosting energy and focus. It may also help with cognitive function and mental clarity.
  • Anxiety and depression: Kratom has been reported to have calming and mood-boosting effects, which may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Opiate withdrawal: When a person uses opioids for a prolonged period, their body adapts to the drug’s presence, leading to physical dependence. Reducing the drug intake can lead to withdrawal symptoms like restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, dilated pupils, runny nose, teary eyes, and more. Kratom has been used by some individuals as a natural alternative to traditional medications for opiate withdrawal symptoms.

Side Effects of Kratom

However, there is limited scientific research on the potential benefits and risks of Kratom use, and its legal status varies widely across different countries and regions. Kratom is currently illegal in some countries, including Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand, while others regulate its use, and some countries have yet to regulate it. The reason is the side effects associated with it, which are-

  • Digestive issues: Kratom contains several alkaloids, including mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine, which can affect the gastrointestinal tract. These alkaloids act as agonists (activators) at opioid receptors in the body, which can cause a slowing down of the digestive system, leading to constipation. Other digestive issues like nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite can also happen.
  • Dehydration: Kratom can cause dehydration due to its diuretic effects, which means that it can cause increased urination. It is important to stay refreshed when using Kratom, especially if you are taking it in high doses or for an extended period.
  • Insomnia: Kratom can cause insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns, especially if it is taken in large doses or consumed close to bedtime. This is because Kratom contains stimulating alkaloids that can keep you awake.
  • Addiction: Kratom can be addictive, and long-term use can lead to physical dependence. When someone stops taking Kratom, they may have withdrawal symptoms like worry, anger, and flu-like symptoms.
  • Liver damage: Some studies have linked Kratom to liver damage. There have been several cases of people developing liver toxicity after taking high doses of Kratom over an extended period.
  • Interactions with other drugs: Kratom can interact with other drugs, including prescription medications, and can lead to dangerous side effects or interactions. For example, if someone takes Kratom with opioids or benzodiazepines, it can increase the sedative effects of those drugs and lead to respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening.

Another scenario is if someone takes Kratom with a medication like antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, it can lead to a dangerous increase in their blood levels. It can also stop the body from absorbing other drugs, making them less effective.

In conclusion, though Kratom has potentially positive effects on the body since it’s not medically proven yet, the side effects undoubtedly become more concerning. So use it very carefully.

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