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Global alternative medicine is a billion-dollar industry. This sector attributes its success mainly to the growing list of therapeutic plants. One such herb is kratom.
Kratom has been making waves in the alternative medicine sector for several years now. Although the herb remains illegal in some jurisdictions and heavily regulated in others, the future points to a possible widening of its legal landscape.
In case you’re stumbling upon this plant for the first time or have read several publications on its therapeutic effects but aren’t convinced yet, this article is for you. Read below as we provide a definitive guide to what kratom is and how it can keep you healthy.
What Is Kratom?
Mitragyna speciosa, more commonly known as kratom, is a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. The herb is widespread throughout the Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Myanmar.
Kratom comes from the same family as coffee. The tree is noted for its mild stimulant effects and opioid-like properties.
Now, kratom is relatively new on our collective conscience. That’s because scientific research into the herb’s pharmacological benefits began a few years ago. However, in its native range, locals have been using kratom extracts from at least the mid-19th century to treat various ailments.
Like most plants, kratom is available in multiple strains. These strains differ significantly in their appearance, origin within the Southeast Asian region, and distinctive effects.
For instance, White Indo Kratom is a white-veined strain from Indonesia noted for its stimulant effects. We also have Red Bali Kratom (a red-veined kratom strain from Indonesia’s Bali province that stands out for its soothing effects), Green Maeng Da (a green-veined strain from Thailand containing both stimulating and calming properties, etc).
Health Benefits of Kratom
1. Treat Pain
Pain management is one of the main reasons people take kratom supplements. The herb contains dozens of alkaloid compounds which account for its analgesic properties.
The two most notable ones are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
When consumed, these alkaloids bind to certain opioid receptors in the brain (including mu, kappa, and delta receptors) in a manner that desensitizes these receptors, increasing your pain tolerance.
2. Alleviate Inflammation
Pain and inflammation are like conjoined twins. In most cases, the two medical conditions either occur side by side or share a cause-effect relationship.
It turns out that kratom may help with inflammation too. The herb derives most of its anti-inflammatory properties from two compounds – rhynchophylline and epicatechin.
Studies have shown that both rhynchophylline and epicatechin may have inhibitory effects on cytokines and chemokines, the substances involved in relaying inflammatory messages across the body.
3. Mitigate Certain Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Kratom is widely recommended for treating opioid withdrawal. Opioid withdrawal is a condition that describes the side effects resulting from a sudden stoppage or drastic reduction in the use of opioid drugs. Common symptoms include headache, muscle ache, abdominal cramps, nausea, anxiety, and drowsiness.
Kratom’s positive effects on opioid withdrawal symptoms have much to do with its ability to bind to opioid receptors. The herb mimics the effects as conventional opioid drugs, fooling your brain into believing that you’re still on these medications. You can then reduce your regular opioid doses gradually while taking kratom as a replacement. Long enough, you’ll be able to wean off these drugs from your body without risking a relapse.
It’s important to note that while kratom produces similar effects as opioids, the herb is far less addictive. That’s because it only binds partially to the opioid receptors.
4. Combat Fatigue
Kratom comes from the same botanical family as coffee. That says a lot about its energizing properties.
Administering kratom in the morning can help you charge up for the day ahead. And there’s plenty of research to back that up.
White-vein kratom strains are the most stimulating.
However, it’s important to point out that kratom is biphasic. The herb’s overall mental effects depend on the doses consumed. While small amounts of kratom will supercharge your energy, very large doses may produce sedating effects.
5. Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are other noteworthy medical conditions that you can manage using Mitragyna speciosa supplements. Kratom mainly relieves anxiety by improving the signaling of the body’s ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. The herb produces nearly the same effects as most mildly-psychoactive plants, but with fewer side effects.
One piece of research found that kratom may reduce various symptoms of anxiety and mood swings. Additional research suggests that the herb may possess antidepressant properties, making it a potential remedy for anxiety and depression.
Kratom’s soothing effects also makes it a recommended treatment for sleep disorders like insomnia. The herb can boost your sleep quality by shortening sleep latency while also reducing sleep disruptions.
In terms of the strain, red-veins are the most preferred for relieving mental health symptoms. That’s due to their soothing effects.
Kratom is a go-to herb for anyone looking to treat various ailments without experiencing the adverse effects associated with conventional drugs.
However, it’s worth noting that kratom is only useful if consumed moderately. An overdose might trigger a host of side effects, including the very medical conditions the herb is touted to treat, such as anxiety and insomnia.
The thumb rule is to start with the smallest doses possible and then build momentum slowly.