Combatting chronic pain is an ongoing battle. As the interest in natural options continues to grow, so does the popularity of kratom. Kratom for chronic pain is sold in health and vitamin stores as a herbal extract that boosts energy, enhances moods, provides relief and even serves as an antidote for opiate withdrawal. We want to be help you be informed next time you see kratom on the shelves. Let’s explore current perspectives on kratom strains for pain management.
Kratom as a natural alternative
There are many treatment options for chronic pain, but many of them can come with strings attached and/or unpleasant side effects. Opioids carry the risk of addiction and don’t treat the source of your chronic pain. Drugs like Lyrica and Cymbalta have many possible negative side effects. They can also be expensive. Over-the-counter pain relievers are easy to access and affordable and are often used to treat chronic pain symptoms. However, they are not recommended for long-term use. Treatments like massage or acupuncture may not be covered by insurance. It makes sense that chronic pain sufferers would seek out alternative options, especially those that are marketed as natural.
What is kratom?
Kratom (mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical tree that is native to Thailand and Southeast Asia. Its leaves have been used for centuries to treat pain. They can be eaten raw, but are more often crushed and brewed as a tea or consumed as capsules, tablets or liquids.
Kratom can be used in a number of different ways. Advocates claim that kratom can manage chronic pain caused by conditions such as fibromyalgia. Others say they use it to boost energy, reduce stress and help manage symptoms from opioid withdrawal. Its believed by some that kratom could potentially help people to transition off of opioids. But regulators do not agree and are “clamping down on the substance.” The FDA believes kratom “has similar effects to narcotics such as opioids and has resulted in dozens of deaths.”
It’s certainly not without risk. While currently legal in many states in the United States, kratom is listed as drug of concern by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This stems from concerns over abuse potential and little research on therapeutic uses and toxic effects. But many still believe that kratom shows promise in treating chronic pain.
The DEA had initially set out to label kratom as a Schedule 1 drug, which would place it in the same category as heroin, LSD, marijuana and ecstasy. The DEA received “numerous comments from members of the public challenging the scheduling action,” said Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator. He notes that those challenges requested “that the agency consider those comments and accompanying information before taking further action.” The agency delayed the ban.
The future legality of kratom remains a gray area. It is currently legal to use in the United States.
How does kratom work?
Researchers have found that kratom works by attaching to proteins, which are called opioid receptors, and then changing the way that the body perceives pain. Kratom affects the same part of the brain that responds to drugs such as morphine, codeine and fentanyl. However, it does not seem to come with some of the typical negative side effects of those drugs, including: