Found in smoke shops and some corners of the internet, this leafy natural remedy is growing in popularity to self-treat a host of conditions.
Kratom is a tropical tree native to South Asia. Its leaves or extract from its leaves are harvested and made into a variety of forms (think tablets or drinkable doses) to help with chronic pain, opioid dependence and withdrawal, and — since you’re here — symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Although some evidence exists about kratom’s effectiveness, there’s also plenty out there about the dark side of this natural remedy. More research is needed to really be sure, so take suggested benefits with a grain of salt, and try not to gloss over the risks.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t blessed kratom with approval just yet. It’s *technically* a dietary supplement (get the 411 on the FDA’s recommendations here).
While it’s not considered an illegal drug at the federal level, it has been banned in six states. So if you’re thinking about jumping on the kratom train, proceed with caution.
Let’s dive into the risks, supposed benefits, and multiple varieties of kratom.
Kratom is sometimes referred to as a “natural opioid.” Since actual opioids can become a problem real quick, it’s no wonder some people in pain turn to kratom to get the same pain relief.
The secret sauce here is called mitragynine. At low doses, mitragynine can have energizing properties. At higher doses, it can feel like a sedative. It binds to opioid receptors in your brain, relieving pain — which may explain the antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.
TBH, there isn’t a ton of research on kratom’s effects on mood.
One 2017 review confirmed that among some users, kratom enhances mood and relieves anxiety. This review cites an older study in mice that showed a reduction in corticosterone (in humans, that’s your stress hormone, cortisol).
The same research also suggests kratom can have sedative effects. Researchers have yet to dive into whether side effects such as sedation interfere with the benefits.
Beyond depression and anxiety, kratom is said to help with:
- muscle aches
- opioid dependence and withdrawal
- high blood pressure
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Beyond its main stimulant and sedative effects, a sizable review of kratom research highlighted its ability to quell your body’s pro-inflammatory markers. According to this …….