Kratom: Dangerous and Risky

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Many people in pain seek natural alternatives to pain medications such as opioids believing them to be safer or more effective. 

Many of you may have heard about Kratom. It is an herbal extract that comes from the leaves of an evergreen tree (Mitragyna speciosa) grown in Southeast Asia.  It is often sold as a supplement. It is important to know that Kratom supplements are not currently regulated in the United States. 


Although people who take kratom believe in its value, researchers who have studied kratom think its side effects and safety problems more than offset any potential benefits. Poison control centers in the United States received about 1,800 reports involving use of kratom from 2011 through 2017, including reports of death.


Kratom is also used recreationally.  People who use kratom for relaxation report that because it is plant-based, it is natural and safe.  However, the amount of active ingredient in kratom plants can vary greatly, making it difficult to gauge the effect of a given dose. Depending on what is in the plant and the health of the user, taking kratom may be very dangerous.  It is very possible to overdose.


Kratom is believed to act on opioid receptors. At low doses, kratom acts as a stimulant, making users feel more energetic. At higher doses, it reduces pain and may bring on euphoria. At very high doses, it acts as a sedative, making users quiet and perhaps sleepy.

Kratom has a number of known side effects, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Chills, nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Liver damage
  • Muscle pain
  • High blood pressure

Kratom also affects the mind and nervous system:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Hallucinations and delusion
  • Depression and delusion
  • Breathing suppression
  • Seizure, coma and death

Kratom takes effect after five to 10 minutes, and its effects last two to five hours. The effects of kratom become stronger as the quantity taken increases.  Kratom has been reported to cause abnormal brain function when taken with prescription medicines. When this happens, you may experience a severe headache, lose your ability to communicate or become confused.

Kratom can be addicting and result in the same craving and withdrawal symptoms that are seen with opioid medications such as morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, or fentanyl.

If you are suffering from chronic pain and traditional therapies have not been effective, schedule an appointment with Southwest Pain Management to discuss options to manage your pain.

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