What is Kratom?

What is Kratom?

Kratom is derived from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa a tree native to Southeast Asia as an herbal extract and is classified as an opioid. The tree is indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions of  Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Myanmar (Burma), New Guinea, and parts of Africa.

It has been at the center of an increasingly public feud. Proponents say the drug can help with opioid withdrawal, panic attacks, mood boosting, pain relief, and is safer than other pharmaceutical opioids.

Interestingly enough, its availability makes it an easier way to combat opioid addiction than the traditional medical rehab route. However, top medical institutes like Mayo Clinic, FDA, and NCCIH refuse to endorse it due to negative reported cases. 


Kratom’s intended use & how it affects the body

So, what does it do? Kratom is believed to act as an opioid receptor.

At low doses, kratom is a stimulant, making users feel more energetic. With higher doses, it reduces pain and may bring on euphoria. In very high doses, it acts as a sedative, making users quiet and sleepy. Some people who practice Asian traditional medicine consider kratom to be a tool to fight opioid addiction. 

But how does this work if Kratom is classified as an opioid?

Short answer, Not all opioids act the same in the body.

The compounds in kratom work through different pathways in the brain than other opioids. Which, leads to the argument that this might make them safer.

“They can activate the brain in such a way that they provide pain relief without, or at least with less, respiratory depression. You only get a partial response. That is also protective in terms of respiratory depression side effects.” {Healthline



Additionally, Kratom leaves can be chewed, and dry kratom can be swallowed or brewed. 

Additionally, The extract can be used to make a liquid product. The liquid form is often marketed as a treatment for muscle pain, to suppress appetite, or to stop cramps and diarrhea. 

Similarly, it has been used in other cultures for pain remedy, in small doses a natural alertness assistant, and religious rituals. 


Is Kratom legal in my state? 

States where kratom is banned:

  • Alabama: As of May 10, 2016, Schedule 1 controlled substance in Alabama.
  • Arkansas: Added to the controlled substance list in Arkansas in February 2016.
  • California: Legal except in San Diego, because of a local ordinance.
  • Florida: The use is legal except in Sarasota County.
  • Illinois: Legal except in Jerseyville, and the sale of kratom to minors under the age of 18 is banned.
  • Indiana: This is a state that defines kratom as a synthetic drug and it is banned.
  • New Hampshire: Legal for people who are 18 and above.
  • Tennessee: Defined as a controlled substance and is banned.
  • Wisconsin: The primary alkaloids present in kratom are classified as Schedule I and as a result are banned

More information can be found: here

Why is it Banned?

The FDA is concerned that kratom, which affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine, appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence. They are encouraging more research to better understand kratom’s safety profile. Including, the use of kratom combined with other drugs. Although, their department has taken no public steps in any type of research.

The huge issue is that the amount of active ingredient in kratom plants can vary greatly, making it difficult to gauge the effect of a given dose. Additionally, there have been reports of Salmonella in Kratom products.

Mayo Clinic states, “substances that are made from kratom may be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. As of April 2018, more than 130 people in 38 states became ill with Salmonella after taking kratom.

Ultimately Salmonella poisoning may be fatal. The US Food and Drug Administration has linked more than 35 deaths to Salmonella-tainted kratom. Salmonella contamination has no obvious signs, so the best way to avoid becoming ill is to avoid products that may contain it.”

Reported side effects, include:

  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Chills, nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in urine and constipation
  • Liver damage
  • Muscle pain

Also reported to affect the mind and nervous system:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Hallucinations and delusion
  • Depression and delusion
  • Breathing suppression
  • Seizure, coma, and death

However these are also most of the listed side effects for morphine.

The overall consensus? 

There isn’t enough scientific evidence yet to positively support the use of Kratom.

The solution: 

Start running clinical trials to determine the effectiveness and opioid addiction. 

When searching for any clinical trials or research it’s nearly impossible to find anyone looking into the benefits.

The closest we found… 

A systematic review of (pre)clinical studies on the therapeutic potential and safety profile of kratom in humans


But their related articles / citations only cover the negative effects.


Hopefully, the scientific community will be able to complete a full study of the use of Kratom before the FDA and DEA completely ban its legality in the United States.