Kratom is an herbal extract of a plant that’s native to Southeast Asia. Some specialty stores market it as a mood-improving supplement that enhances energy and reduces pain. Other supposed benefits of kratom include the ability to prevent panic attacks and relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms. If all these qualities sound too good to be true, you’re wise to be skeptical. Depending on the dosage and method of use, kratom can be dangerous. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is currently legal to buy and sell in the U.S., which may make it seem like an attractive choice to alternative medicine proponents. If you know anyone who uses kratom recreationally or therapeutically, they may have offered you some or touted its supposed assets to you. However, there is little to no scientific proof that kratom is an effective or healthy substitute for FDA-approved medications and evidence-based therapies.

Kratom is available in various forms, including powder, capsule and gum. Some people prefer to chew kratom leaves, brew them as a tea or add them to their food. The amount of active ingredient in kratom plants can vary widely, making its dosages inconsistent and its effects challenging to predict. Also, since the FDA doesn’t monitor the safety or purity of herbal supplements, there are no regulations surrounding kratom production. That means different kratom products may contain other harmful or addictive substances that can increase the chance of dangerous drug interactions or adverse health effects.

Risks of Taking Kratom

Many people believe kratom is safe because it is plant-based, but it can cause some alarming side effects, including nausea, sweating and seizures. Its mind-altering abilities may also lead to psychosis symptoms like delusions and hallucinations. Between January 2011 through December 2017, people made more than 1,800 calls to poison control centers reporting issues with kratom use and exposure.

Like opioids, kratom contains alkaloids, which have physiological effects on humans and other animals. These chemical compounds bind to the brain’s opioid receptors, increasing pleasure and reducing pain. When you take kratom, it releases a flood of dopamine in your brain, making you feel alert and happy. With prolonged kratom use, you can build a tolerance, which means it will take higher doses to achieve these desirable effects. You might also experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as body aches and mood swings if you taper off kratom or quit altogether.

Protect Your Health and Preserve Your Progress

If you are recovering from a substance use disorder, taking kratom or anything else that can change your brain chemistry is dangerous, and could lead to you replacing one chemical dependency with another. The risks of taking something as unpredictable as kratom far outweigh any supposed benefits you may have heard about.

Women struggling with their mental health or addiction might not know where to turn after realizing that they need help to get past these issues. At Rising Roads Recovery, we provide a safe, judgment-free place where you can start healing and find the happiness you deserve. To learn more about women’s-only residential treatment in Orange County, please connect with us today.