Kratom, or Mitragyna speciose, is a tree found in Southeast Asia. Kratom leaves contain psychoactive opioid compounds. The leaves are often dried or powdered for tea; they can also be chewed, smoked or eaten.
Using kratom in small doses produces a slight stimulant effect (e.g., increased energy and sociability). Those who use large amounts of kratom may experience sedation, pleasure and decreased pain. However, using kratom in large quantities can result in very dangerous side effects. The properties of kratom, which affect the same brain receptors as morphine, expose users to the risks of abuse, addiction and dependence.
Since compounds in kratom leaves interact with opioid receptors in the brain, some individuals use the leaves in attempt to curb their addiction to other substances, but there is no evidence to prove this effective. In reality, kratom has been linked to serious risks and sometimes death, due to the variability in how the substance is being formulated, sold and used.
Some reported health effects of using kratom include: nausea, itching, sweating, loss of appetite, constipation, dry mouth and increased urination.
Similar to all opioid drugs, kratom can be addictive. Withdrawal symptoms include: aggression, jerky movements, insomnia, muscle aches, running nose and emotional changes.
There are no FDA approved uses for Kratom. In 2018, the FDA issued a statement documenting the data and research that describe potential for abuse, addiction, serious health consequences and death. Additionally, Kratom is sometimes laced with other substances that have caused deaths. Consumers are advised against using Kratom in any form.
Some individuals seek out Kratom to help with their cravings and/or additions to other substances (e.g., opioids), but kratom is not a safe alternative to proven mediations and evidence-based strategies. There is no evidence that demonstrates kratom aids with addiction to other substances. Kratom should not be used to treat medical conditions. If you or a friend are experiencing trouble with kratom or any other substance, free confidential counseling is available at Student Health and Counseling Services. See link below to talk to someone or make an appointment.