Last Updated on November 21, 2020 by Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley
Herbalists and naturopaths that promote the use of Kratom believe that it can calm anxiety, relieve pain, and relieve the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. If you haven’t come across this herb yet you’re probably wondering “what is kratom?”
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) believes that it’s a dangerous herb that should be put in the same class as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.
Scientists want to experiment with it to see if it can in fact, be used to successfully treat people for pain and addiction.
Kratom is a tropical tree that’s native to Southeast Asia. It’s related to the coffee plant and the leaves have been used as pain relief for centuries. The leaves can be eaten raw or crushed into a powder and put into tablet form.
Is Kratom Really That Dangerous?
The DEA certainly thinks it is. Low doses of the herb are known to act as a stimulant but larger doses can result in psychosis and addiction.
A statement released in February 2018 from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. stated that there have been 44 deaths related to Kratom use. However, only one of these deaths involved kratom alone, the other 43 were also related to opioid and benzodiazepine use.
What is Kratom’s Effect on the Brain?
Although more tests need to be conducted before the therapeutic benefits of kratom can be proved it is believed that it may help with the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Some Southeast Asian countries have banned it due to its addictive properties, but many researchers believe it is less addictive than opioids.
One of the main risks involved with opioid addiction is that it reduces the breathing rate of the user which can lead to death through respiratory depression. Kratom does not appear to reduce breathing in users.
Opioids are often prescribed for pain which has led to may people becoming addicted to prescribed painkillers. If Kratom proves to be an effective pain reliever, painkiller addiction may become a thing of the past.
What Is the Link Between Kratom and Salmonella?
In February 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning about an outbreak of salmonella that was linked to Kratom. There were no deaths reported with this outbreak but there were 50 hospital admissions across 41 states.
An update was posted in May that stated the CDC was not able to isolate a single, common, cause of the outbreak so all Kratom should be treated with caution. It added that although the outbreak was over, there is still a possibility that some products containing the contaminated Kratom are still out on shelves and for sale.
Is Kratom Legal to Use or not?
The answer to that question largely depends on where you are. According to the American Kratom Association it is legal in some states and banned in others. In many of the states where it is legal to use – legislation has been introduced to have it banned.
Kratom is banned in the following states:
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
At the time of writing (June 2018) there are 17 states where Kratom is still legal but is likely to be banned.
In summary, this post began with the question, “what is Kratom?” While we know where kratom comes from and what it is used for – it’s future is still uncertain.
If you decide to try it, please do so with this caution: Do not to mix it with other medications, drugs, or alcohol.