Kratom is a tree-like plant derived from Southeast Asia; it belongs to the same family of plants as coffee and gardenias. Kratom has been used for hundreds of years in Thailand and neighboring countries as an herbal remedy that assists with mild pain and to provide an energy boost. However, many people in the United States have been using kratom to help withdrawal symptoms experienced from opioids, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now warning against it.
According to USA Today, 36 deaths have been cited from kratom overdose, and the FDA is warning against individuals purchasing the substance that seems readily available online and without prescription to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. There have been dangerous side effects reported with the use of kratom, including seizures, liver damage, and withdrawal symptoms. The public health advisory states that the FDA is working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to determine what kratom should be classified as. What does kratom do?
Larry Greenemeier, associate editor for Scientific American, explains the workings of kratom in the brain as this:
“Mitragynine – the isolated natural product in kratom leaves – binds to the same mu-opioid receptor as morphine, which explains why it treats pain. It’s got kappa-opioid receptor activity as well, and it’s also got adrenergic activity as well, so you stay alert throughout the day.”
Despite the euphoric effects it can produce, the FDA warns that the substance can be just as addictive as other drugs. Many people are dismayed to find that the substance may be put on halt, as many believe that kratom can help people overcome withdrawal and other pain-like symptoms. However, the FDAs main concern is that people are purchasing kratom without concrete knowledge of the effects and dangers of using it, as it is not being prescribed by a physician.
Always be aware of what you are taking, and speak with a physician before consuming any substance that you are unsure of. Seeking help and speaking with a health care professional could prevent you from experiencing dangerous side effects, and could even save your life.
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