• Addiction & recovery

All About Kratom

Nzinga Harrison

March 12, 2021


What is Kratom? Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical plant indigenous to Southeast Asia and certain parts of Africa, with a long history of medicinal and ceremonial use. This plant is native to tropical and subtropical regions of Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.  A member of the coffee family, the leaves contain compounds that have psychotropic (mind-altering) effects.

Traditionally Kratom leaves are chewed raw or consumed as a powder to help reduce fatigue. But it is now readily available in many forms, including dried or crushed leaves, capsules, tablets, liquids, and resin. Kratom is now an increasingly popular alternative therapy and the drug of choice on the recreational drug market in the United States.

Kratom extracts and leaves are used as a stimulant and a sedative. It’s also been used for treating chronic pain, digestive ailments and as a treatment for opioid withdrawal, although it hasn’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any medical use.

This substance is usually marketed and sold in stores that sell supplements and alternative medicines. It is also widely available to be purchased online or even from farmers’ markets throughout the United States.

How Does Kratom Affect the Brain?

The two main compounds in Kratom leaves, mitragynine, and 7-α-hydroxymitra-gynine, interact with opioid receptors in the brain. These compounds produce sedative effects when consumed in large doses and stimulant effects when consumed in small doses. Doctors believe that Kratom attaches itself to the same parts of a nerve cell as opioid painkillers and, as such, causes similar effects in the brain. But there remains no adequate clinical trials or studies to help understand the long-term health effects or how it works and why. However, due to its capacity to cause serious side effects and dependence, several states in the U.S. have banned Kratom products.

The Effects of Kratom

Kratom can cause effects similar to both opioids and stimulants. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), a few grams of Kratom produces stimulant effects, and a large dose between 10 to 25 grams of dried leaves can cause sedative effects. These effects usually start within 10 minutes after ingestion and can last from 1 1/2 to 6 hours, depending on your dosage.

The stimulant effects include:

  • Increased alertness

  • High sociability

  • Increased energy

  • Reduced motor coordination

The sedative effects include:

  • Calmness

  • Dull sensations

  • Euphoria

Side Effects of Kratom

Some of the most commonly reported side effects include:

  • Constipation

  • Nausea

  • Loss of appetite

  • Severe weight loss

  • Insomnia

  • Discoloration of the cheeks

  • Muscle tremors

  • Itchiness

  • Sweating

  • Dizziness

  • Dry mouth

  • Seizures

  • Hallucinations

  • Liver damage

Kratom ingested even in low doses can cause severe side effects like hallucinations and lack of appetite. It is also known to have potentially deadly interactions when consumed along with other drugs or medications. And as a result, the CDC poison centers receive many alerts of Kratom overdose each year.

Is Kratom Addictive?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has voiced concern over Kratom use, as it’s shown to affect the same opioid brain receptors as morphine and contains properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence. Regular use of Kratom is known to cause dependence and addiction in some users. And as a result, people may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain

  • Insomnia

  • Irritability

  • Nervousness

  • Mood swings

  • Aggression

  • Fever

  • Diarrhea

  • Unsteady movements

If you or someone you love is seeking treatment for Kratom abuse or addiction, Eleanor Health is here for you.  We provide a comprehensive treatment program that incorporates behavioral therapy to help address the issues related to Kratom addiction. Our compassionate team at Eleanor is dedicated to helping you find the right treatment for you. So start your journey with us today.


Safety of Kratom

Other than the risk of forming dependence and addiction, certain Kratom products are also known to have dangerous levels of metal, according to the FDA.

An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found Kratom to be the cause of 91 deaths of more than 27,000 overdose deaths in 27 states from July 2016 to December 2017. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) contributes most of these deaths as a direct result of dangerous interactions with other substances, including opioids.

As the active ingredient in Kratom varies widely by plant, the effects of this substance can be highly unpredictable. Leading to an increased risk of overdose and serious side effects, including seizures, hallucinations, chills, vomiting, liver damage, or even death.

In recent years, FDA has cracked down on the sale of Kratom as a treatment for opioid addiction and other conditions. The agency also warns the public that some of these products may be tainted with harmful bacteria such as salmonella or other lethal substances.

All About Kratom

Legal Status of Kratom

Kratom is currently legal in the United States. However, it’s illegal in Thailand, Australia, Malaysia, and several European Union countries. Certain states in the U.S. have enacted the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to protect consumers against unregulated products, which may include synthetic Kratom, fentanyl, or other dangerous ingredients.

Four states have currently passed the Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA), while others, such as Oregon, have taken steps toward a legal but regulated approach to Kratom. In 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed banning Kratom at a federal level but ultimately dropped that proposal to give scientists more time to conduct studies and research on the substance.

If you are seeking help with your loved one’s addiction, contact us today or complete our quick contact form below, to speak with an addiction treatment specialist.

If you need help with your substance use disorder, we are here to help you build your confidence and momentum towards the future you want. We provide treatment services for adults with alcohol, opioid, and other substance use disorders. We are currently located in Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.

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