Is kratom safe? Here is the study-backed answer

Kratom is an oft-discussed plant. Its safety is a subject of much debate. For some, it offers health benefits, while others warn of potential risks. This article focuses on the scientific studies, health benefits, and possible risks associated with kratom use. Is kratom really safe? Read on to find out more.

kratom safety

Key takeaways

Kratom is safe for the vast majority of people. It simply depends mostly on how you use it. Individuals using common sense will most likely never have a problem with kratom. 

As we will discuss in more detail below, the biggest risk is that addiction will occur. This will logically happen to you when you take kratom regularly (every day) for an extended period of time.

Health-wise, kratom basically is safe. Cases of liver damage are very negligible, only people with a pre-existing liver problem or extreme kratom abusers will be affected.

The only problem is that kratom has not yet been studied by scientists from all angles. So all the potential dangers may not have been discovered yet.

Scientific knowledge - kratom research

At the same time, it has to be said that a lot of studies have already been done. Although you often hear (even in the media) that kratom has not been studied at all. That's not true. Just open Google after all.

Scientific studies on kratom safety have produced mixed results. And they show that its use may be associated with both potential benefits and risks.

Safety and health risks:

NIH News in Health reports that kratom has a variety of effects ranging from stimulant (increased energy, increased heart rate) to opioid-like effects (relaxation, pain relief). 

However, there can be side effects such as nausea, constipation, dizziness, and in rare cases, more serious problems such as seizures, high blood pressure, and liver problems. Kratom can also contain harmful contaminants like heavy metals and bacteria (NIH News in Health).

EKA study

A study by the European Kratom Alliance has found, confirmed if you will, that kratom may have potential benefits such as relieving pain and aiding in opioid withdrawal. But it also points out that it comes with various risks. 

Including gastrointestinal problems and the possibility of addiction. The study highlights the need for regulation and standardisation of kratom-containing products and the importance of educating the public about the safe and responsible use of this plant.

FDA study:

The FDA recently completed a study to determine safe doses of kratom, where no significant side effects were noted even at high doses. 

This study has opened the way for further research, focusing on the potential for kratom addiction and the safety of its use (American Kratom Association).

Scientific research and traditional use:

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) highlights the differences between the traditional use of kratom in Southeast Asia and its use in the US. 

Traditional forms, such as fresh leaf tea, differ from processed products available in the Western world, which may explain the differences in health effects. NCCIH encourages further research to determine the exact effects and safety of kratom (NCCIH).

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Potential health benefits of kratom use

Kratom is known for its stimulant and sedative effects. Many users and some scientific studies suggest, as we said earlier, that kratom may have some health benefits as well. The benefits are still being researched. There are still debates among experts.

1. Pain relief

One of the most commonly reported benefits of kratom is pain relief. The alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine bind to opioid receptors in the brain, which can lead to opioid-like analgesic effects. But with less risk of addiction. And after all, kratom addiction is much less dangerous from every point of view, especially health. 

A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that kratom may be effective in reducing pain in people with chronic pain.

2. Improvement of mood, alleviation of anxiety

Many kratom users have mentioned that they have noticed an improvement in mood and a reduction in anxiety. Kratom can have similar effects to antidepressants for some, which can be helpful for people suffering from depression or anxiety disorders. 

A systematic review published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that kratom can have a positive effect on mood and social behavior.

3. Help with opioid withdrawal

Kratom is also used as an alternative to opioids for some people. These are those who are trying to overcome addiction to these substances. Some studies suggest that kratom can help ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for opioids. 

Research published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that kratom may be effective in reducing addiction to opioids and other substances, as well.

4. Energy and concentration boost

In lower doses, kratom acts as a stimulant to increase energy and improve concentration. This can be good for people who need to improve their productivity or fight fatigue. 

A study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that kratom can have stimulant effects and improve cognitive function.

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Reported side effects

Of course, Kratom is not without side effects (otherwise it would sound too good). These side effects can be short-term or, exceptionally, long-term. They can depend on the dose and frequency of use.

Short-term side effects

  • Nausea and vomiting: some users report feelings of nausea and vomiting after taking. Nausea is one of the most common side effects of kratom. This, of course, is mainly related to the use of untested, low-quality kratom or other important factor.
  • Constipation: Kratom, again especially poor quality ones, can cause constipation, which is common with the use of substances with opioid effects. This is confirmed by the previously mentioned research.
  • Dry Mouth: Another common side effect is dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. This problem can lead to discomfort and other oral health problems.

Long-term side effects

  • Addiction and withdrawal symptoms: one of the biggest (undeniable) risks associated with long-term kratom use is addiction. Users can develop physical and, rarely, psychological dependence on kratom. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and muscle aches. According to a study in the International Journal of Drug Policy, kratom can cause addiction similar to opioids.
  • Liver damage: There are reports of liver damage associated with long-term kratom use. There are also reportedly cases of acute liver failure in some kratom users.
  • Cardiovascular problems: Some kratom users report increased heart rate and high blood pressure. These symptoms may put people with pre-existing cardiovascular problems at risk. Several cases of heart problems associated with kratom use.

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To sum up, we can say that kratom can be safe for many people, especially if used responsibly and in moderation. It offers potential benefits such as pain relief, mood enhancement, or help with opioid withdrawal. 

However, it is not without risks. These include addiction, and in extreme cases, liver damage or cardiovascular problems. The key is to be informed - use kratom wisely and be aware of the possible side effects. 

More research is needed to fully understand its safety. But when used properly, kratom can be a valuable natural remedy for many people.


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