Recently, a drug called kratom, has come into the center of a controversy. Kratom is legal in the U.S. and many people begin taking the drug to help with withdrawal from certain drugs, such as heroin. What you may not realize though, is that kratom can be just as addictive as opiates, and because of this, many Americans are struggling with a cycle of kratom addiction and relapse. So, what is kratom and how does it affect the body? Here is everything you need to know about this substance.
What is Kratom?
Kratom is a tropical tree related to coffee that is native to Southeast Asia. Leaves from the tree have been used for centuries as a traditional remedy for pain. The leaves can be eaten raw, but are crushed and made into a powder most of the time. The powder is then consumed in capsules, smoked or brewed in teas. Consumption of kratom in low doses produces simulating effects. However, in large amounts it acts as a sedative, and can lead to psychotic symptoms, as well as psychological and physiological dependence.
How is it taken?
In its native region, kratom leaves are often chewed fresh. Dried leaves can also be chewed, but since they are a little tough, most people prefer to crush them up or powder them so that they can be swallowed easily. Powdered kratom can be mixed with water as well. This method is quick and easy. It can also be mixed with other liquids, such as fruit juice or milk. Chocolate milk works especially well for masking the taste. Powdered kratom can also be made into a paste that can easily be swallowed with water. The powder can also be mixed with applesauce or yogurt. Dried kratom leaves are often made into a tea that is strained and then drunk. Kratom can be smoked, but doing so is impractical because the amount of leaf that constitutes a typical dose is too much to be smoked easily. Some people like to mix kratom tea with ordinary black tea, or other herbal teas, before it is consumed. This is done to make it more palatable. Sugar or honey can be added to sweeten it.
What Are the Effects of Kratom?
Users report that effect can be achieved within 5 to 10 minutes of chewing the leaves and can last up to one hour. Kratom functions as a depressant with reports of “morphine-like” sedation and nausea at high doses and a “cocaine-like” stimulant at low doses.
Kratom Effects and Actions
Consumers who use kratom report lessened anxiety and stress, lessened fatigue, pain relief, relief of withdrawal symptoms. None of the uses have been studied clinically or are proven to be safe or effective. Moreover, it has been reported that opioid-addicted individuals use kratom to help avoid narcotic-like withdrawal side effects when other opioids are not available. Kratom withdrawal side effects may include irritability, anxiety, craving, runny nose, stomach cramps, sweating and diarrhea.
It kratom legal?
Nowadays, the substance is mostly legal in the U.S., depending on where you live. According to the American Kratom Association, several cities, counties and seven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia have banned or restricted the use of kratom. While supporters are working hard to keep kratom legal, the DEA and detractors argue that the substance is not safe.
Kratom, an herbal product that originated in Southeast Asia, is being used in the US to ease anxiety, treat chronic pain and to reverse opioid withdrawal symptoms. Recreational use may be on the rise, as well. Use in coffee shops has also been reported. The FDA has warned consumers not to use any products labeled as containing kratom. Health care professionals and consumers should report any adverse events related to products containing kratom.