The effects of kratom are revolutionary, able to treat a variety of symptoms from chronic pain to depression, insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure and opioid withdrawal from drugs like heroin. Other uses are for mild stimulation, mood elation, awareness and an overall increase in energy levels. However, while there are a variety of medicinal uses, there are severe side effects of kratom, especially when taken in higher dosages.
Kratom (also known as Mitragyna Speciosa) is an evergreen tree from the coffee (Rubiacaea) family that hails from Southeast Asia. It grows in countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia, amongst others. Used for hundreds of years to treat a variety of ailments by indigenous tribes to these regions, the leaves have potent medicinal properties. You consume it by either drying out or chewing on the leaves themselves, but also in capsules or extracts and even tea variations.
While some chase the euphoric effects of this drug, kratom has a built-in anti-abuse mechanism in the form of harmful side effects that will offset any chance for chasing that proverbial high. In translation, you do not feel better by consuming more kratom past a certain threshold. By consuming too much, you’ll feel sick. You’ll vomit, feel intense nausea, have migraines, feel dizzy or experience hallucinations, and so on.
Currently, in the U.S., kratom is legal in most states, but outlawed in some states such as Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Indiana, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin. And in some states where kratom is legal, certain cities have banned its use. Certain countries around the world have banned kratom. Australia, Denmark and Finland are some examples. But most notably, countries like Thailand and Vietnam, where kratom goes, have also banned its use.
What are the side effects of kratom?
Kratom has many side effects. Some are worse than others. However, the following are the most prevalent and persistent side effects to kratom that you’ll find.
One side effect of kratom is nausea. That’s especially true when consumed in higher doses. However, the chances of this side effect also rise based on the kratom strain. Certain strains of kratom are more likely to cause nausea (and vomiting) than other strains. For example, Indo and Bali strains often do this. So be wary on what you take and how much you take before you’re well acclimated to the effects of kratom on your body.
Also, it’s important to understand the difference between delivery mediums. For example, kratom extract is more potent than kratom tea. If, for example, you take the extract form of Indo or Bali strains, you’re more likely to feel nausea than you would if you drank the tea. Extracts are distilled down, creating a very powerful dosage of kratom delivered in a very small package.
Another kratom side effect is dizziness. This happens due to the dilation of blood vessels. It’s also a result of the impact that kratom has to the brain’s neurochemistry. Some forms of kratom will cause more dizziness than others. Strains that are more sedative, such as red-vein kratom, will relax and dilate blood vessels more than strains that are more energetic (i.e. white-vein kratom) and mood-elevating.
This also relates to the format of kratom consumed. More potent forms such as extracts are more likely to cause dizziness than less potent forms such as the tea or powder. It also has to do with strains. Green-vein kratom offers a more balanced delivery, where the alkaloids offset each other as opposed to strains with more of one alkaloid than the other.
Kratom causes extreme headaches and migraines. This is likely from the dramatic blood pressure changes caused by kratom. Kratom causes both intracranial vasodilation and intracranial vasoconstriction. That means that it both decreases and increases the blood pressure, respectively. Once again, dosage levels play a part in this. Don’t ingest more than recommended, especially in the beginning.
If you do suffer from migraines, be sure to properly hydrate. Both before you take it and after. That might quell the headaches, which can be fierce. Also, those with a history of migraines are more susceptible to them when taking kratom.
Kratom has been associated with severe weight loss. In fact, some companies have created weight-loss pills specifically formulated with kratom. While some might think this is a side effect of kratom, others take kratom particularly for this purpose. Kratom results in a loss of appetite, leading to severe weight-loss over time. Again, when ingested in higher dosages, appetite is further restricted.
It’s likely that the side effects of nausea and vomiting also play a role in the weight loss. It’s not just the loss of appetite. Plus, kratom impacts the gut microbiota and activates the central nervous system. These all likely play a role in the severe weight loss side effects of kratom.
Kratom has opioid-like characteristics. Although not considered a narcotic, addiction to kratom can occur if the drug is abused. Overuse of kratom results in a transformation of the neural pathways of the brain. In turn, it causes a dependence or reliance when used regularly for an extended period. When removed from the system, withdrawal symptoms can prevail. These include things like mood swings, irritability, muscle and bone pain, and others.
Harmful drug interactions
Kratom has been known to have harmful interactions with other drugs. It’s important that if you take kratom, not to mix it with other drugs. Always consult your physician before trying to mix another drug with kratom. It could lead to serious side effects and also potential death and overdose. While you cannot overdose solely from kratom, you can overdose if you mix kratom with another drug that has a harmful interaction with it. So be careful.
Kratom causes visual impairment. It will obscure your vision, especially in higher doses and with certain strains. For example, red-vein kratom is more sedative than white-vein kratom. That can easily result in hallucinations when taken in higher doses, or when consumed in more potent formats such as extracts or liquids.
Do not attempt to operate machinery or drive your car when taking kratom. That could easily result in a fatal accident. Your motor skills will be impacted and you won’t be able to make quick enough decisions. In turn, you can’t respond to stimuli quickly enough to avoid an accident from occurring.
Kratom activates the central nervous system. It also impacts the neurochemistry of the brain while increasing the body’s core temperature. This combination leads to profuse sweating, especially in your sleep. This also happens when there’s an allergic reaction to kratom. This is not one of the worst side effects of kratom, but it is a nuisance. If you’re prone to sweat, it’s even worse.
How to avoid the side effects of kratom?
It’s hard to avoid the side effects of kratom. But to stem the tide, you can consume lower doses. For example, especially in the very beginning, don’t take more than 1 to 2 grams of kratom. Usually, kratom pills are 0.5 grams. That would mean a maximum of 4, depending on the size of the pill.
Another way to avoid side effects is to start with kratom tea. The tea is much easier on the system. And if you’re just starting out, it’s highly recommended that you first opt for the tea. Buy the dried leaves and make your own tea. You’ll need some other ingredients such as lemon and honey, but it’s much easier on the system than kratom power or kratom extract.
Especially when dealing with kratom extract, be wary of how much you ingest. Kratom extract is extremely potent and you should be careful if you’re just starting out. Use common sense and you can avoid some of the more severe side effects of kratom.