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How Does Kratom Work for Pain?

by Nathan Zachary
How Does Kratom Work for Pain

Kratom is one of only three natural sources of opioid alkaloids. These compounds are responsible for the psychoactive and analgesic effects of opioids. In other words, kratom has the same feel-good substances that opiates do to make you feel good, and these substances interact with opioid receptors in the brain.

There are two specific compounds that are generally considered to be the active ingredients in kratom. The first is mitragynine, which is high in kratom but relatively mild in action. It is also mitragynine, which is primarily responsible for the stimulatory effects of kratom.

The second is 7 alpha mitragynine, which is only about 1/4 as prevalent in kratom as mitragynine. However, it is more potent and is generally considered to be responsible for most pain relief.

There are many other compounds in kratom, in smaller amounts such as kratom capsules. These can also have many effects, including pain relief. Interestingly, taking all of these compounds together seems to make them more effective, often referred to as the entourage effect.

Health Benefits of Kratom:

Although Kratom has been a part of Southeast Asian culture for generations, it is relatively new to Western societies. In Asia, it is often treated in a similar way to tea or coffee, or as an herbal remedy. In the West, it’s more like marijuana or similar drugs for various reasons. Therefore, as with marijuana, there is not much scientific research on kratom and its effects.

All of this is to say that when anyone starts talking about the “health benefits of kratom” whatever they say should be taken with considerable reservations. What we know about kratom all comes from one of three sources:

  • View the chemical structures of compounds in kratom
  • Anecdotal accounts from users
  • Few studies have used animals

There are few preliminary human trials, so there are still many unanswered questions about using kratom for chronic pain, depression, or any other ailment. Similar problems exist with compounds such as CBD or cannabis. However, more human trials can be consulted when evaluating these substances. Also, kratom can have more serious side effects, which makes using it riskier.

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Pain Management:

This is the use of kratom with the most scientific support. We’ve discussed how kratom is actually considered an opioid. Anyone who has followed the news over the past decade or so knows how effective opioids are at relieving and controlling pain.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the active chemicals in kratom are in their natural concentrations in the leaves. That’s much lower than what you’ll find in any prescription drug. At lower doses, kratom has a stimulating effect. To get pain relief, you have to take more.

This may mean chewing a lot of bitter leaves or drinking some bitter tea. Smoking or taking capsules may be more appealing. Either way, a larger dose means a greater risk of side effects. This risk increases if you use any other medications, prescription or otherwise, to manage pain.

Depression and Anxiety:

As we mentioned, small amounts of kratom can have a stimulating effect. For depression, this stimulating effect may be effective in alleviating low mood. Additionally, higher doses are sedative, which can help with anxiety, and have analgesic properties, which can help with some symptoms of depression.

These uses are based almost entirely on user reports rather than any scientific research. As such, it is difficult to make any definitive claims about whether kratom helps manage any type of mood disorder.

Some of the effects associated with high doses of kratom, such as hallucinations, may not mix well with depression or anxiety. However, a recent scientific review advises against the use of kratom and Kats Botanicals for depression.

Opium Withdrawal:

Since kratom contains a smaller dose of opioids, many people have turned to it for help in fighting the effects of opioid withdrawal. However, there is again a lack of study on the subject, so it’s hard to say whether it is a good option for a former opioid user.

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