The results of a recent online survey found that kratom users in the United States tend to be middle-aged, middle-income people living with pain.
Also Known As: Kratom products are also known as Biak, Ketum, Kakuam, Ithang, Thom, Herbal, and Ketum.
Kratom is, essentially, a natural opioid. Like all opioids, it comes with a risk of tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal.
Drug Class: Kratom is classified as a stimulant.
Many people believe that since kratom is an herbal remedy, it’s safe. But it’s important to keep in mind that herbal products aren’t reviewed by the FDA before they hit the market. As a result, there’s no guarantee that a supplement will contain the ingredients listed on the label (or that those ingredients will appear in the indicated amounts). Adulteration and contamination with other drugs, herbs, and substances are possible.
You may have heard about kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), an herbal supplement used traditionally in Southeast Asia for energy and to help ease aches and pains. Derived from a type of evergreen tree, kratom contains alkaloid compounds called mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
Short-term side effects:
Published research on kratom’s possible benefits as a pain reliever and opioid alternative is very scarce. The available research includes a report published in the International Journal on Drug Policy in 2010, for which scientists surveyed 136 active users of kratom and found that the herb was “described as affordable, easily available, and having no serious side effects despite prolonged use.” This report included no testing of kratom’s health effects or potential hazards.
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The DEA plans to ban ingredients in an herb called kratom, but critics argue that the herb may benefit people living with pain or opioid addiction.