Kratom has been on the lips of many alternative medicine enthusiasts in the last few years due to its immense therapeutic potential. The herb has proven effective against various common medical issues, including pain, anxiety, insomnia, and erectile dysfunction (ED). Some reports also claim it might help with opioid withdrawal. But in the interest of those encountering kratom for the first time, we’ll start from the beginning by defining what it is. We’ll then delve deep into opioid withdrawal and the role of kratom strains in managing the condition.
What Is Kratom?
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. The tree belongs to the coffee family and is characterized by its mild stimulant effects. But the actual reason behind kratom’s smashing popularity is its diverse pharmacological applications. In various Southeast Asian countries where the herb grows indigenously, its extracts have been used centuries to remedy numerous ailments. Emerging scientific research has proven that kratom might, indeed, be effective at treating many of the conditions it was traditionally administered for.
Another interesting fact about kratom is that it comes in multiple strains. Strains are essentially variants of the same plant that differ considerably in their genetic makeup and physical appearance. Kratom strains mainly derive their name from the coloration of their leaf veins. The three major strains by leaf vein coloration include white vein kratom, green vein kratom, and red vein kratom. Kratom strains may also get their name from their specific origin within the expansive Southeast Asian region. Noteworthy mentions here include Maeng Da from Thailand, Green Malay from Malaysia, and Red Borneo from Borneo Island.
What Is Opioid Withdrawal?
Opioid withdrawal is a term for the range of symptoms that occur as an opioid addict tries to wean off the drugs from their system. Opioids are medications commonly prescribed for treating severe and persistent pain. They’re sometimes also known as narcotics. Examples include morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl.
Although they’re inherently prescription medications, opioids are highly susceptible to abuse. That’s due to their high risk of addiction and dependency. Opioid withdrawal symptoms typically result from the sudden cessation of opioid usage or a dramatic reduction in an opioid user’s normal dosages. Common side effects include headaches, muscle aches, abdominal cramps, fever & chills, nausea with or without vomiting, and diarrhea.
How Might Kratom Strains Help With Opioid Withdrawal?
Kratom strains contain two primary active alkaloids – mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. When consumed, mitragynine breaks down into its more bioactive cousin – 7-hydroxy mitragynine. Studies have shown that both mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine can activate various opioid receptors in the brain. These include mu-, delta-, and kappa-receptors. It’s important to note that these are the same receptors affected by conventional opioid drugs.
By mimicking the effects of regular opioids, kratom allows recovering opioid addicts to wean off the drugs from their system without experiencing severe adverse effects. That’s an ingenious strategy for combating relapse. The main thing that sets kratom apart from conventional opioid drugs is that the herb is a partial opioid agonist. That simply means it binds mildly to opioid receptors.
Kratom’s reputation as a partial opioid agonist is why the plant can help opioid users clear the drugs from their bodies without developing a separate addiction to the herb. For comparison, regular opioid drugs are full opioid agonists. Such medications bind fully to the opioid receptors in the brain, which explains their highly addictive nature.
Additional research indicates that kratom may improve opioid withdrawal symptoms by stimulating the adrenergic neurotransmitter system. The adrenergic system plays a key role in transmitting pain and other signals between the central and peripheral nervous systems. Lastly, kratom has proven effective against many adverse effects of opioid withdrawal. These range from headaches, muscle aches, irritability, and insomnia.
What’s The Best Way to Use Kratom Strains for Opioid Withdrawal?
The most important tip before administering kratom for opioid withdrawal is to select the best strain. White veins are generally stimulating, while red veins are mostly sedating. Green veins provide the best of both worlds. Choosing the right kratom strain for opioid withdrawal depends on the specific symptoms you seek to alleviate. White vein strains would be more effective for fatigue, nausea, and reduced mental concentration. On the other hand, red vein strains would be suitable for relieving irritability, sleeplessness, and the various forms of pain associated with opioid withdrawal (headaches, muscle aches, and abdominal pains).
Moderation is another best practice when using kratom for opioid withdrawal. Multiple sources cite 5 grams of kratom consumed thrice daily as the ideal dose. However, remember that there’s no such thing as a standard kratom dosage. Serving amounts can differ substantially from one user to another based on aspects like age, body chemistry, and potency. The conventional wisdom is to begin low and build momentum gradually until you reach your sweet spot. Lastly, pick the right product formulation. Popular options include kratom-infused teas, powdered kratom, capsules, and pre-rolls. Insist on edible kratom supplements as these encourage eating and might directly combat nausea, one of the side effects of opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Kratom is an effective remedy for opioid withdrawal, and there’s plenty of research to back that up. But as with most alternative medicines, this herb will only produce the desired results if properly administered. Remember to also consult your doctor before using kratom products for opioid withdrawal or any other purpose.