The herbal solution to treating and managing pain, Kratom, is making headlines in the health world.
If you’re up-to-speed on trends in the wellness world, you’ve likely heard of kratom. Stemming from a tree native to Southeast Asia, it falls in the same family as the coffee tree. The leaves of kratom have been used as an herbal drug for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, by the people of various countries in southeast Asia.
One of its most interesting qualities: It can be used both as a stimulant (at low doses) and as a sedative (at high doses). It is also a very effective pain killer, treatment for diarrhea, and used by many for opiate addiction. Some report that kratom is also an effective treatment for arthritis, restless legs syndrome and fibromyalgia. When taken at low dosages, kratom can act like a stimulant, heightening alertness. At higher doses, kratom is a sedative, producing opioid-like effects that dull pain.
Kratom is an opioid-like substance to boost energy and manage pain. The kratom tree’s leaves have been used for centuries as an herbal drug by laborers and farmers. Currently, kratom leaves are ground into pills and powders, sold as dietary supplement or even made into drink powders. Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, the active ingredients in kratom, bind to the opioid receptors in the body making it almost as effective as morphine.
According to Joel Granik, LAc, co-founder and director of Floating Lotus, kratom has been in the news extensively over the past months due to an announcement from the DEA. This statement intended to classify the plant as a Schedule 1 substance, effectively banning it for use. Although many have reported using it as a safer alternative to prescription painkillers that are highly addictive and have significant side effects, the DEA felt kratom still needs more scientific research.
After their announcement, the DEA received thousands of phone calls from people opposed to the ban. They have decided to withdraw the ban until December 1 to allow people to share their experiences using it as a pain relief treatment.”
I have treated many patients and had personal friends that have become addicted to traditional western pain medications and then spent years trying to overcome the addiction,” says Granik. “These drugs are often overprescribed or used recreationally and can lead to lifelong suffering.”
While I myself do not have a need to use kratom currently, I would certainly recommend that people look into it, advises the expert. ”
Kratom is a powerful substance that contains chemicals that bind to some of the same receptors as opioids, providing pain relief and overall positive feelings,” says Granik. “It is not known to cause the sometimes deadly side effects of prescription pain medications, such as respiratory depression.”
However, as with any medication or medical decisions, Granik suggests patients speak with their specific doctor before taking kratom.