The U.S. has a lot of people hooked on opioids. However, a surprising 80 percent of these are not seeking treatment. According to a study by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, it was discovered that in every 1000 Americans, three reported having indulged in heroin in 2013. Additionally, the study led to another saddening discovery. During the 2009-2013 period that they carried out the survey, they discovered that only 22 percent of the opioid addicts had gotten any sort of treatment. This treatment mostly involved outpatient methadone clinics or self-help groups.
In addition to the previous research, another study stumbled upon a shocking discovery. Due to a shortage of facilities and the capacity to treat opioid addicts, an estimated million addicts could not be in a position to get treatment, even if they desired it.
All this shows that there is a need to find alternative ways to ease opioid addiction. One alternative that addicts are resulting in is the use of kratom to detox their bodies from the use of opioids such as heroin.
What is kratom?
Kratom originates from Southeast Asia. A tree-like plant, it lies in the same family as other plants like gardenias and coffee. For hundreds of years, people in Thailand and surrounding Asian countries have been using kratom as a herbal remedy for various ailments such as pain, coughs, muscle aches, and diarrhea. In Malaysia where it is grown, it has long been used to assist those hooked to opiates by giving a temporary relief to those suffering from dope sickness.
Kratom and Opioid Detox
Kratom has grown in popularity in the recent past as an alternative for opioid addicts to ease on opioid use, and for good reasons. Christopher R. McCurdy, a faculty member of the School of Pharmacy in the University of Mississippi has done considerable research on the effects of kratom on easing withdrawal effects of opioids in mice.
Together with his colleagues, McCurdy concocted a tea from the kratom plant leaves, freeze-dried the tea and then used it on mice that had been accustomed to morphine. Though the tea led to some unwanted side effects, with modifications, they can be eliminated and use of kratom shows great promise.
The group advanced by isolating mitragynine, the most abundant alkaloid in the kratom plant, and used the pure compound in their tests. What they discovered showed that compared to methadone, the compound’s activity emerged to be superior in assisting mice to withdraw from morphine and that with the development of chemical variations, an alternative to methadone may be developed to ease addictions to opiates.
What makes the mitragynine effective is its ability to completely block all of the resulting withdrawal symptoms. This means that it can make for a step-down treatment to hardcore addicts of narcotics such as heroin, morphine or oxycodone.
Kratom Use in the U.S.
In the U.S., kratom is retailed as an extract, gum or as a green powder sold in packets with the label “not for human consumption”. It is currently not considered to be an illegal drug. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) dubbed it a drug of concern following the health risks that are linked to it.
The kratom can be ingested by chewing or by using them to make tea. Others opt to add it to their food or smoke it.
Despite all these discoveries, there has been concern over the use of kratom. This is largely because not much scientific research and clinical trials have been carried out to determine safe dosages for human use.
Additionally, it has been discovered that kratom contains over 20 chemicals that are biologically active with some having the ability to bind opioid receptors that lie in the human brain and these can lead to addiction and physical dependence.
The effects of kratom are quite hard to pin down owing to its unique blend of chemicals. It all boils down to the dosage one takes as this determines the balance in opiate-like effects and stimulant-like effects. Let’s take a look at the effects in relation to the dose taken.
When indulged in low doses (1-5g), the stimulant-like effects are more dominant. They kick in within 10
minutes and stay for 60 to 90 minutes. These stimulant-like effects have been likened to those of amphetamine and include:
- Reduced appetite
- Spike in energy and alertness
- Increased libido
- Increase in sociability
- Moderate to High Doses
When taken in moderate to high doses (5-15g), the opioid-like effects are predominant and tend to stay for a few hours. However, the “high” effect brought about by the drug is slightly less intense compared to other opioid drugs. Some of these opiate-like effects are:
- Suppression of coughs
- Pain reduction
- A calm and dreamlike mental state
- A reduction in the resulting symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
However, some of the effects of kratom have been attributed to the sale of adulterated samples. This means that the kratom is not pure but is laced with other substances. This has been associated with an increased risk of death among users with fatalities being recorded.
Various side effects are registered in the users of kratom but are mostly dependent again on the dosage administered. These side effects are similar to the resulting side effects in opiates and stimulant drugs. These include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pupillary constriction
- Tremors or decline in motor coordination
- Facial flushing
Following the research carried out on chronic, high-dose users of kratom in Thailand, several long-term effects were noted such as:
- Darkening of the facial skin or hyperpigmentation
- Weight loss and anorexia
More research may be required on the use of kratom but there is no denying that it is effective in easing addicts from the use of opioids and may be an effective way to detox your body using kratom. However, ensure you take in small doses when using it to detox your body from opioid use.