Kratom, a tall skinny plant (Mitragyna speciosa) in the coffee family is indigenous to Southeast Asia. Kratom has been used by the people in that region for years as a stimulant and to manage pain. When sipped as a brewed tea, it has a stimulant and analgesic effect. It gained popularity here in the States as an alternative to narcotics and to help with opioid withdrawal.
While kratom has opioid like effects and strongly binds to the same opioid receptors in the brain as heroin and morphine, it doesn’t act like a classic opioid. It has a stimulant effect, not a sedating one. There is no intense high or euphoria reported. At the molecular level, it differs from classic opioids as well. The FDA is concerned that it does have the potential for abuse and addiction and so has issued several advisories regarding use. Used in high doses, multiple side effects like nausea and vomiting have also been reported.
In the government’s eyes, it is an unregulated opioid. At present, it has unproven claims to treat pain and there just isn’t enough science to tell us if this is safe, if it works long-term, or if you are substituting one addiction for another. However, other scientists and physician disagree and think the government should do a better job of regulating it, make it safe and available for adults, especially those coming off of opioids.
Despite advocacy groups and individuals who report benefit, this is the current statement on the UpToDate website, the go to resource for evidenced based clinical treatments that physicians use to make clinical decisions.
Read the full article at Belief.net