I?ve used + researched kratom for 7 years. Here?s what I learned:
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Depending on who you ask, kratom is either a harmless, beneficial plant or a destructive, addictive drug.
As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
In this article, I provide a reasonable, nuanced view of the controversial plant based on my 7 years of personal experience and extensive research.
This article isn?t a guide on ?how to use kratom? ? it?s an overview of important kratom information that will help you determine if purchasing it is worthwhile.
Let?s start with the basics.
A Quick Synopsis on Kratom
Kratom is a plant in the coffee family that grows natively in Southeast Asia.
Kratom tree leaves are ground into powder. Users mix the powder into drinks, dump it in their mouth (toss-and-wash method), or brew it into tea.
It typically takes 20 to 40 minutes to feel the effects of kratom. If you drink kratom tea the effects typically come-on slower.
Effects vary based on the dosage, person, and strain. That being said, general effects can include:
- Increased energy
- Improved mood
- Reduced pain
- Improved focus
- Feeling of relaxation or contentment
- Reduce appetite
- Increased compassion
- Decreased sex drive (and delayed orgasm)
- Reduced anxiety
- Increased desire to socialize
- Impaired short-term memory
This isn?t an all-inclusive list. Kratom affects everyone differently and has a myriad of effects.
My Extensive Kratom Experience
I discovered kratom over 7 years ago, back when it was mostly unknown to the general public. A fellow entrepreneur recommended it on a forum. He said kratom was a nootropic helpful for doing tedious work.
I used kratom for freelance projects such as writing 15 different articles on ?garage doors? or 50 different Halloween costume descriptions. It worked as promised ? boring, repetitive writing became more tolerable. I used kratom 1?3 times a week for about a year.
My use increased after I developed an autoimmune disease (indeterminate IBD). The stomach pain from my disease was intense and constant. I took kratom daily because it reduced my pain significantly and gave me a much-needed boost in energy and mood.
Unfortunately, the pain got worse and worse as my disease progressed, unabated. I switched to traditional opiates because the pain exceeded kratom?s analgesic capacity.
My condition improved dramatically after multiple Gi surgeries. I eliminated my daily opiate pills as the pain lessened and thus experienced opiate withdrawal. Kratom helped reduce the dreaded opiate withdrawal symptoms.
I currently use kratom when I have an intense IC flare. It dramatically reduces the pain within 20 minutes.
So, I?ve used kratom casually to improve productivity, daily for intense pain, temporarily to reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms, and as-needed for painful flare-ups.
I?m not the end-all kratom expert, but I have a lot of kratom experience. So I feel comfortable answering some basic questions:
Does Kratom Make Users High?
I hate when users compare kratom to a cup of coffee. The truth is ? kratom?s effects are significantly more intense than a cup of joe.
Kratom provides a mild high or buzz. The user often feels at peace, happier, more compassionate, and relaxed. Kratom doesn?t provide the intense euphoria of a drug high, but it definitely has a noticeable drug-like effect.
The kratom high is most pronounced during initial use. Some new kratom users experience a short-lived ?honeymoon phase? where the high consistently lasts for 4?6 hours.
After the honeymoon phase, the kratom high either disappears completely or lasts about 30-45 minutes before fading into the background. In other words, users may feel a little high initially after dosing, but the feeling quickly dissipates and turns into a subtle effect lasting 4?6 hours.
So, the kratom high is typically short-lasting (after the honeymoon phase) and mild, but it definitely exists for some users. It?s more noticeable than a caffeine buzz ? I can tell you that.
That being said, I can?t emphasize enough that kratom?s high isn?t comparable to traditional drugs. As someone with extensive opiate experience, I can report that the kratom high isn?t remotely comparable to the effects of prescription drugs like oxycodone.
Is Kratom Harmful?
Yes and no.
Kratom (probably) can?t kill you. Kratom doesn?t damage organs, your brain, or any other part of your body. Hundreds of thousands of users can attest to these facts. I?ve never, in my years of researching kratom, seen one person report a health complication from kratom use.
So kratom isn?t dangerous, but it can cause temporary negative effects. These include:
Kratom can cause constipation, nausea, and other GI issues.
Constipation is a common negative side effect (Note: Magnesium can eliminate this effect for some users). I don?t personally experience constipation, but kratom occasionally causes digestive issues like GERD, bloating, and excess gas.
I limit my kratom usage because I?m well aware that:
- Kratom affects my digestion
- Proper digestion is vital to your health and well-being.
Kratom impairs short-term memory and ? to put it bluntly ? makes you dumber. Retaining information and performing intellectual work is more difficult on kratom.
I played a videogame with my girlfriend recently. She helped me with basic puzzles as my ?kratom brain? couldn?t figure them out. I later played the same videogame sober and easily completed far more difficult puzzles.
I wouldn?t study or complete difficult tasks on kratom. It definitely affects your cognition temporarily.
Sometimes kratom makes you tired and lazy. This is particularly true of certain strains, but for some reason, this effect can come out of nowhere ? even when using stimulating strains.
Sometimes I take a dose of kratom while fully determined to work, but the kratom makes me lazy. I end up lying on the couch watching youtube instead of working. Kratom often makes me more productive and energetic, but it sometimes reduces productivity.
Kratom reduces your sex drive, especially if you take it on a regular basis. It can also make ?finishing? difficult.
This effect can be beneficial for those with PE, but in my case, it makes sex a chore for both parties. I now always take kratom at least a few hours before sex.
Take kratom too late in the day, and you might have trouble dozing off.
I?ve fallen into this trap countless times. Sleeping is difficult on some strains of kratom.
Kratom is notoriously difficult to dose. Take a little too much, and you?ll experience negative symptoms. You may feel light-headed upon standing, nausea, fatigue, and lousy overall.
Everyone, even experienced users, dose too high occasionally. Different strains and brands require different doses. The optimal dose also varies based on how much food is in your stomach.
Even when you control for all variables, sometimes you take too much. For whatever reason, kratom occasionally hits too hard.
The negative effects of taking too much kratom typically dissipate quickly (as long as you don?t really overdo it), but it can be a frustrating, uncomfortable experience.
Yes, you can experience withdrawal from kratom if you use it on a regular basis. Anyone claiming ?kratom withdrawal is a myth? is misinformed.
Withdrawal symptoms vary greatly based on factors including individual genetics, length of use, and quantity used. For most people, kratom withdrawal is mild to nonexistent, but some people have a rough time.
Withdrawal length varies. The worst is typically over within a week, but minor withdrawal symptoms can persist for up to a month. Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Restless legs
- Hot flashes
- Anger + mood swings
I?ve experienced kratom withdrawal multiple times. It wasn?t the worst thing in the world, but it definitely wasn?t an enjoyable experience. That being said, the positive benefits I received from daily use (mostly, great pain management) was well worth it.
Is Kratom Addictive?
Despite claims to the contrary, kratom can be addictive.
I?ve seen kratom addiction stories that share commonalities with other drug addictions. Some users repeatedly get clean than relapse in a cycle that lasts for years. Severely addicted users have lost their savings, job, and even marriage due to excess kratom use.
These stories are rare, but kratom addiction is possible.
Notably, many kratom addicts have an addictive personality. Many people addicted to kratom were or are alcoholics and opiate addicts.
It?s also worth noting that innumerable opiate addicts have switched to kratom temporarily with zero problems. Even those predisposed to addictive behavior typically don?t get hooked on kratom.
However, we shouldn?t brush kratom?s addiction potential under the rug. Most people won?t get addicted, but addiction is possible.
Problems Kratom Can Help
This list is based on my own experience and reading other people?s stories. Unfortunately, there is very little scientific data on using kratom to treat medical issues.
So, take everything I say in this section with a grain of salt, and always consult with your medical professional.
That being said, kratom is an exciting new treatment for a variety of problems. These include:
Kratom has significant pain-reducing properties. It?s an excellent, milder alternative to traditional opiate medications.
As mentioned earlier, I?ve used kratom extensively for pain management. It works well.
Kratom can improve your mood. Some people use it regularly to improve depression.
You likely won?t experience full cessation of symptoms, but kratom can provide relief and help you get through tough days.
Social And Generalized Anxiety
Kratom can alleviate distressing symptoms of social and generalized anxiety.
After numerous traumatic experiences, I started experiencing severe anxiety on a daily basis. Kratom reduced this anxiety so I could function better in public.
Kratom can provide a sustained source of energy which is particularly valuable to anyone with chronic fatigue.
I?ve dealt with significant fatigue issues for years due to autoimmune disease. Kratom gave me the energy to function properly.
Kratom helps people focus. Kratom is sometimes used as a replacement or adjunct therapy for ADHD.
While I haven?t formally been diagnosed with ADHD, I have serious focus problems. I jump from task to task, thought to thought. My brain is often a chaotic mess. Kratom dramatically increases my focus, and thus makes me more productive.
I?ve never experienced this problem, but I?ve read stories of kratom improving this condition in men.
Opiate withdrawal symptoms are horrific. Kratom can lessen these intense symptoms for addicts and pain patients alike.
As mentioned previously, I used kratom to reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms. It made the process significantly easier.
Kratom is a Valuable Plant
Kratom isn?t without negative attributes, but it helps many people. When used responsibly, it can be a valuable tool.
Kratom should remain legal. It has many valid medicinal properties and the risk of negative effects such as addiction is low. A ban would harm countless people.
I can personally attest to the value of kratom. I?m extremely grateful for access to a fairly safe, cost-efficient way to manage pain and other health conditions. It?s dramatically improved my life.
If you?re interested in purchasing kratom, the vendor matters. It can definitely vary largely in quality. My preferred vender is Coastline Kratom.
If you want to learn more about kratom and/or become a kratom advocate, visit The American Kratom Association.