For decades, opioids have been prescribed with abandon. We’ve seen a significant wave of addiction sweep across the country as prescriptions for painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin skyrocket. But those who struggle with opioid dependence may find hope in kratom—a popular herbal supplement that has been used in Asian countries for centuries.
Kratom and Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
A study headed up by Lisa L Wilson et al, a Kratom is a naturally occurring plant that has been used to relieve pain and improve mood without the danger of opioids. The recent discovery of kratom’s ability to reduce withdrawal symptoms from opioid addiction may be game changing in the fight against drug-related deaths, which are currently at their highest level ever. Kratom doesn’t have the danger of opioids because it works on the same type of receptors in our brains that opioids do, but without causing respiratory depression. It’s no wonder that this plant has become so popular since it is a relative to one of the most highly evolved plants on Earth – The coffee tree.
First, it is important to know what this plant is and where it comes from. This 4-6 meter tall bush with white flowers grows in Southeast Asia as well as central Africa, India, and other regions of South America. Around 70% of Kratom plants are grown on plantations specifically for their leaves, which can be made into tea or chewed fresh from the plant. The other 30% grow wild without any human cultivation at all! While it might seem weird that so many people use kratom regularly, especially with its recent spotlight as a drug alternative, once you take a look at just how useful this can be in the treatment of opioid addiction it makes a lot of sense.
These plants produce a chemical called mitragynine that can be brewed into tea by boiling dried leaves or crushed leaves put into cold water for between five minutes and twenty minutes before drinking the mixture. It is also commonly ingested through capsules, gummies, or kratom shots.
For many people, this doesn’t seem like something that they should care about because they don’t understand what Mitragyna Speciosa actually does or why society might want to use it more often. However, when reliable institutions with credible studies start backing up claims made by hard data about Kratom and how beneficial it can be, especially for those who have chronic pain issues such as arthritis or muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis in addition to the proven relief from withdrawal symptoms – then we cannot say enough.
Americans and Drug Addiction
Opiate addiction has been an issue for Americans since it first entered our country in 1850s following its introduction for medicinal purposes. For decades, opioids have been prescribed with abandon. We’ve seen a wave of addiction sweep across the country as prescriptions for painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin skyrocketed. To get a better idea of the scope, consider this: More than 1 in 10 Americans were prescribed opioids in 2007-2008; by 2012-2013, 1 in 5 of those patients became addicted to them; and from 1999-2010, more than 183,000 people died as a result of an overdose of prescription painkillers.
If this wasn’t enough of an eye-opener, over 47,000 deaths were caused by opioid overdose between 2006 and 2016 according to recent statistics from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And although some addicts may be able to get clean with methadone maintenance therapy or buprenorphine/naloxone combination treatment, others will need something stronger than just medication alone.
New hope with a natural approach
But those who struggle with opioid dependence may now find hope in kratom. Published in January of 2021 by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore – research published in Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology journal – it’s been found that reducing intake after chronic use or abuse can produce withdrawal symptoms that are overwhelming.
The more you use opioids, the more pain you feel without them. It is frustrating to know that no matter how much time passes and how many times you try to stop using opioid drugs like heroin, it will always be difficult because of withdrawal. Opioid-induced hyperalgesia is the most pernicious withdrawal symptom. When opioids are used for pain management (acute or chronic), reducing or stopping opioid use increases the amount of pain felt. In chronic users, even gentle pressure can be unbearable. No wonder it’s so difficult to cut out!
The good news about kratom
The good news is that most people report that kratom has a pain-relieving effect without the dangers presented by opioids. While kratom might not be an option to treat opioid addiction itself, it does seem to help with withdrawal symptoms and make them more manageable for those who already use this herb medicinally or recreationally, helping them start taking their life back.
Ever since the FDA’s announcement that they want to restrict kratom, it seems like people have been more and more interested in what all this means for them. More and more people have come out about how it’s changed their lives and continues to improve their daily lifestyle. The American Kratom Association is working hard to keep kratom legal and accessible by gathering signatures for a petition!
The FDA and Kratom: An Attack on A Natural Remedy
With the FDA trying to ban kratom, we need as many voices as possible on our side. If you’re one of those who has found relief from chronic pain or a debilitating mental illness with the help of this natural herb, then please sign onto the American Kratom Association’s petition that declares your support for keeping kratom available. This way, Congress will know how important safe access is to us!
We can see the future of kratom and it looks bright. With the help of continued research, we’re looking forward to seeing more relaxed restrictions on access to higher quality product. In this age where we need to be mindful of what is happening in the world, it’s important that we pay attention to how Kratom can help us. It’s not just about its herbal effects; there are studies and data backing up all the claims for Kratom benefits, too.
To read more about how Kratom is helping with withdrawal symptoms, visit: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33433723/
Publication details: Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2021 Jan 12. doi: 10.1007/s10571-020-01034-7. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33433723