For centuries, the leaves of the kratom tree have been used in parts of Southeast Asia as a traditional herbal medicine and mild stimulant. Recently, kratom has seen a surge in popularity across the globe as a botanical supplement taken for various health conditions and general wellness.
Kratom contains 40 alkaloids that are structurally related, which interact with receptors in the brain to produce stimulating or sedating effects depending on the dose. At lower doses, kratom is reported to boost energy, focus, sociability, and mood. At higher doses, it may act more like an opiate-like pain reliever and anxiolytic.
While human studies are still limited, some research points to the potential benefits of kratom. However, there are also concerns about safety, toxicity, contamination, and abuse potential. Kratom remains controversial and requires much more investigation to understand the risks versus possible rewards fully.
If choosing to use kratom, it is critical to exercise extreme caution, follow all dosage guidelines, and consult your doctor first. With those caveats in mind, here we explore the top 7 evidence-based benefits of kratom as used in herbal medicine:
1. Relief from Pain
One of the most scientifically supported effects of kratom is pain relief. Studies have found the primary active alkaloids in kratom leaves, including mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine, interact with opioid receptors in the brain and body to dampen pain signals. Animal studies show kratom’s analgesic effects are mediated through activity on delta and mu-opioid receptors as well as adrenergic and serotonergic pathways.
Anecdotal reports indicate effectiveness for both acute and chronic pain. More clinical trials in humans are needed, but the existing evidence suggests potent pain-relieving potential for kratom-based remedies. This points to possible applications as an alternative analgesic with reduced risks compared to prescription opioids.
2. A Mild Cognitive Stimulant
At lower dosages, kratom behaves more like a stimulant than a sedative or opiate. Many report improved alertness, concentration, motivation, and stamina when taking kratom powder or tea. This is likely due to mitragynine’s interactions with adrenergic receptors. Kratom increases sympathetic nervous system activity, similar to caffeine.
But unlike caffeine, kratom avoids the “crash” effect when it wears off. The cognitive boost is much less intense but lasts longer. In traditional use, kratom tea was consumed by laborers to energize their work. Today, it remains popular for counteracting fatigue, brain fog, and even depression symptoms through gentle stimulation. Vendors like Canada Kratom Express offer kratom that can provide this mild stimulating lift without an energy plunge afterward.
3. Relief from Anxiety
While also used as a cognitive stimulant, kratom paradoxically exhibits anxiolytic effects as well. Studies and human experience suggest kratom consumption can ease symptoms of anxiety and induce feelings of calmness and optimism. Mitragynine appears to dampen neurological stress pathways while boosting “feel good” neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Clinical trials are still needed to establish efficacy, optimal doses, and safety. However, the research to date and anecdotal reports indicate kratom has potential as an herbal anxiolytic alternative to pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medications. This could provide benefits for those with generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, and similar conditions.
4. Help for Opiate Withdrawal
One area getting increasing research attention is the use of kratom to ease opiate withdrawal symptoms during addiction recovery. Because kratom activates some of the same opioid signaling pathways as drugs like heroin or oxycodone, it may help mitigate cravings, flu-like withdrawal symptoms, and pain during detox.
Studies show that kratom usage alleviates common opioid withdrawal issues like muscle pains, diarrhea, anxiety, and restlessness. And because mitragynine binds to opioid receptors differently than classic opiates, it appears less likely to cause respiratory depression. More research is underway about kratom as an adjunct therapy during opiate withdrawal, which holds significant promise.
5. Improved Quality of Sleep
Anecdotal reports by regular kratom users indicate consumption before bed often results in quicker sleep onset, longer sleep duration, and improved sleep quality. Many claim using kratom tea or powder a few hours before bed helps those who have insomnia, sleep apnea, night shift schedules, and other sleep disruptions.
These sleep benefits are likely attributable to kratom’s anxiolytic qualities and effects on dopamine and serotonin, which control circadian rhythms. However, dependence risks probably make daily kratom consumption unsuitable as a sustainable sleep aid. Occasional use several hours before bed may promote restful sleep without building tolerance.
6. Possible Support for Weight Loss
Though not well studied yet in humans, there are some theoretical mechanisms by which kratom could aid with weight loss efforts. Kratom may increase metabolism and suppress appetite when taken regularly. Anecdotal reports indicate reduced cravings and overeating when using kratom, especially the stimulating strains. Kratom also appears to boost energy expenditure from increased metabolism and greater physical activity.
Together, these effects may create a modest caloric deficit to support losing weight over time. However, the extent of kratom’s effects on weight has not been thoroughly researched yet. And the risks of liver damage and addiction preclude recommending kratom solely for weight loss at this stage.
7. Enhanced Sociability
Frequent kratom users also commonly report it enhances their sense of well-being, positivity, and sociability. Interacting with people seems more pleasurable and anxiety-free after consuming modest amounts of kratom powder or tea. These effects are likely due to the stimulation of mood-elevating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine in conjunction with anxiolytic activity.
However, the effects appear strongly dose-dependent. Too high a dose can cause drowsiness instead. Those using kratom in social situations will want to experiment cautiously to avoid excessive sedation.
Research on kratom is still in its early phases but suggests it may have legitimate benefits as an herbal medicinal supplement. However, many potential risks and unknowns about kratom’s effects remain as well. Anyone considering kratom should carefully weigh the possible rewards versus potential dangers.
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