Kratom for Detox

The opioid crisis has researchers considering all options in fighting the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose. Some have turned to the unlikely fire of kratom to fight the fires of our opioid problem in the U.S. Kratom is a drug that’s relatively new to the country. 

Coming from East Asia, it’s making its way into both recreational use and research laboratories.

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Illicit use of the naturally-occurring psychoactive substance was reported to result in 263 poison control calls in 2015. Like most drugs, it has its fair share of adverse effects, but can it really be used to treat opioid addiction?

People have already begun treating opioid addiction with kratom. In fact, it was reported to treat opium addiction in Asia as far back as 1836. People have already started self-administering the drug for opioid withdrawal symptom relief since kratom is used as an opioid substitute.

One of the most significant barriers to opioid detox is the fear of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Medications are currently used to managed symptoms, but some have side effects and addictive qualities on their own. Could kratom be the substance that turns the tides in the fight against opioids or do the dangers outweigh the potential benefits?

Struggling with opioid or Kratom dependence? Request a call now and get connected to an addiction specialist today.

Struggling with opioid or Kratom dependence? Request a call now and get connected to an addiction specialist today.

How Does Kratom Work?

Kratom is a drug that defies conventional classification. It comes from the leaves of an evergreen tree in East Asia that’s closely related to coffee plants. It has been used in its native territories for decades to manage pain and opioid withdrawal. The plant’s leaves are used to brew a tea that has a variety of psychoactive effects. However, as a drug, it’s difficult to define. It has properties that are similar to opioids, facilitating pain relief and relaxation. But it also has properties that cause nervous system excitement like a stimulant.

When you consume kratom, the effects you experience seem to depend on the dose you take. It has also shown to have some antinociceptive (pain blocking), antidepressant, and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. However, the full effects of the drug haven’t been widely studied, and there is still a lack of official research.

Kratom has a wide variety of naturally occurring psychoactive chemicals in its leaves. In fact, there are more than 25 alkaloids in the plant. However, there are two major compounds that most likely have the strongest effects, which are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Both are said to have pain-relieving effects.


Why kratom works in the brain is still largely unknown; however, we do know that both mitragynine and 7-HMG acts as mild partial opioid agonists. This means that the chemical compounds found in the plant bind to opioid receptors in the nervous system and partially activate them causing mild opioid effects. Though 7-HMG exists in the plant in smaller amounts, it seems to have a stronger affinity and binds more readily.

Other drugs that partially agonize opioid receptors have had success as opioid addiction and withdrawal medications. Typically, the partial binding is enough to each withdrawal symptoms without causing powerful euphoric effects or other adverse reactions.

Is Self-Treatment Safe?

Kratom-use has been slowly growing at the street level. It’s sometimes used as a recreational drug, sometimes called the legal opioid. As new cases of kratom overdose and poisoning are reported, states have begun outlawing the drug. As of this year, it has been outlawed in six states.

Still, it has become increasingly known as a do-it-yourself opioid withdrawal remedy. Its murky legality and the fact that it binds to opioid receptors makes it an attractive choice for people who are looking to get out from under opioid dependence or for people who have become addicted and can no longer require prescription opioids. Users report successfully treating opioid withdrawal symptoms and weaning off of the drug with success.

However, there is still a lot to learn about kratom. Even though there has been a lot of anecdotal reports of its effectiveness and a few studies, they are a variety of adverse effects that can be potentially dangerous. Because the effects of kratom are poorly understood, the consequences of self-administered use can be unpredictable. If you encounter and medical complications while using kratom on your own, your life may be at risk.

For instance, one published case study investigated a patient who used kratom to self-manage opioid withdrawal symptoms. After using the drug, the patient experienced a seizure, and researchers confirmed that there were no contaminants in the drug. The study highlights the potential risk of self-administering any potent psychoactive substance without consulting a doctor, especially one that’s as unresearched as kratom.

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Adverse Effects of Kratom

Though there is still a lot of research to be done to determine the full range of effects and side-effects of kratom, there have been a variety of reported adverse reactions. As with most drugs, kratom has the potential for a variety of side effects that can come from normal use. Many symptoms seem to be similar to side effects that come from typical opioid use. However, it also shows some side effects that seem to come from its stimulant nature. Adverse reactions can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased urination

Studies have also shown some more severe side effects that can be triggered by moderate to heavy kratom use. Kratom causes stimulant effects at lower doses and opioid effects at moderate levels. However, taking the amount needed to cause opioid-like effects, you may also feel tachycardia, constipation, hypotension, dry mouth and sweating. With frequent high doses, you may also start to experience tremors, anorexia, weight loss, seizures. It can also cause dangerous psychological symptoms like aggression, hostility, and psychosis.

High doses can increase the potential toxic effects of kratom. One study showed that Kratom can cause intrahepatic cholestasis, seizure, arrhythmia, impair memory function, coma, and death in some people. Serious medical problems can occur with the use of kratom, and its benefits are currently in the shadow of its apparent dangers.

Many studies and reviews of kratom’s usefulness and safety, like one from the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, come to the same conclusion, “Our data analysis has not determined if biochemical benefits of kratom may prove to outweigh its toxicity and risks.” While most researchers believe kratom is worth studying more thoroughly, it seems too dangerous to use as a viable treatment option.

Seeking Safe Detox and Opioid Treatment

If you have suffered from opioid addiction and withdrawal symptoms in the past and you are looking for a way to safely achieve sobriety, there is help available. Medical detox at Maryland House Detox can help you go through withdrawal symptoms safely and as comfortable as possible. With 24-hour medical care, your team of medical professionals will be able to help ensure your safety and treat uncomfortable symptoms. After detox, clinicians can connect you to the next level of care that’s right for you. Through opioid addiction treatment, you may be able to achieve long-lasting sobriety and a life free from active addiction.

To learn more about the treatment options that are available to you, speak to our addiction specialists at (888) 263-0631. The first step toward a meaningful life after addiction may just be a call away.