The topic of the pharmacology of kratom leaves is one of interest to many at this time. Though, again, there is not as much evidence as kratom advocates would hope for, there is quite a bit of promising evidence to be provided.
In order to be more effective, I will quote the article and define some of the most important terms which contribute to our understanding on what kratom does for the human body.
It is said that “Kratom leaves are traditionally used to treat intestinal diseases, muscle pain, coughing and diarrhea in Malaysia and Thailand” and that “quite a few studies recommended that kratom products have the effects of analgesic, antipyretic, antitussive, antidiarrheal, euphoric, antidepressant, and anxiolytic.” (The studies that the author’s speak of are not mentioned directly in the article).
All of the words in the above quote are more medical than the average person is used to reading, so let me break each down for you.
Analgesic: a remedy that relieves or allays pain; drugs: considered the prototype for anti-inflammatory analgesics, the two other major types of which include acetaminophen and the aspirin like drugs like ibuprofen
antipyretic: used to prevent or reduce fever
Antitussive: used to prevent or relieve a cough
Antidiarrheal: to alleviate diarrhea
Euphoric: characterized by or feeling intense excitement and happiness
Antidepressant: used to alleviate depression
Anxiolytic: used to reduce anxiety
I don’t need to tell you that all of these are very good things! These problems, like diarrhea and cough or fever or depression, are all issues that people currently take medicine for.
What I would love to know is if it is possible to replace synthetic solutions with kratom for the issues listed above.
The author’s also say that the leaves “may act as immune booster, lower blood pressure, and have anti-viral, anti-diabetes, and appetite suppressing effects” although “The pharmacokinetics of kratom in humans has not been well studied. Various pharmacokinetic factors such as metabolic half-life, protein binding property, elimination and metabolism are not yet known.”
(pharmacokinetics: the branch of pharmacology concerned with the movement of drugs within the body.)
Kratom and Addiction potential:
So, although kratom leaves and their properties show very promising results based on traditional use, we still do not know exactly how all of it impacts the human body short-term or long-term. In addition, the addiction potential is unknown, so although kratom may help with many ailments, it also may be addicting. This is common among many drugs at certain dosages, so don’t let this shock you or discourage you from pursuing this a possibility for a better alternative, but consider that it may have the potential to be addictive.
The authors say that “In animal models, kratom has been found with addiction potential when mitragynine and 7 hydroxymitragynine were given orally for 5 days.” Let us note that 1)This study was done on animals, 2)The study tested concentrated doses of the alkaloids, and 3) The study only lasted 5 days allowing the scientists to not only that it had “addiction potential” which does not mean that it is addictive.
We often take pain medication for various different ailments, from headaches to cramps to minor injuries, people all over the United States will casually pop an aspirin or a tylenol to relieve pain. One very promising notation in regards to pain is that “In terms of analgesic activity, mitragynine is around 13 times more effective than morphine while 7-hydroxymitragynine is four times more effective than mitragynine.” So while this may not be an extremely exciting fact to those who want to use kratom every day, those who suffer from pain or cannot take painkillers like morphine, should be quite excited about the possibilities of using this far more effective and natural painkiller. Once we find out the greater likelihood for addiction, it may be an easy decision.
Kratom and Opioid Withdrawals:
Okay, so here comes some really exciting findings. The authors say,
“Alkaloids in kratom can interact with opioid and monoaminergic receptors but they differ from opioids in structure. Mitragynine is an agonist of multiple receptors that binds not only mu- and kappa-opioid receptors, but also additional receptors that might augment its effectiveness at mitigating opioid withdrawal.”
Let’s break this down into some manageable terms.
The first positive thing we can gain from the above quote is that the alkaloids in kratom are different from opioids in structure. This is a great argument for people who are associating kratom with drugs of a more sinister kind.
So what is a monoaminergic receptor? According to the Department of Health “Monoamines refer to the particular neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin…”
To further differentiate, I have also provided the definitions for the monoamines.
Dopamine: important in the regulation of movement, cognitive processes such as attention and working memory and motivation behavior….involved in reward pathways that is considered important in mediating effects of drugs of abuse
Noradrenaline: acts on the sympathetic nervous system and is involved in mediating cardiovascular effects, arousal, concentration, attention, learning and memory.
Serotonin: involved in a variety of physiological processes, including regulation of smooth muscle function, blood pressure regulation and both appetite, sleep, cognition, perception, motor activity, temperature regulation, pain control, sexual behavior and hormone secretion.
The second positive thing from the quote is that it can aid in opioid withdrawal. There is more evidence to this effect in many other places as well.
Effects of Kratom:
Finally, to sum up the discussion of the pharmacology of kratom, I have one quote which is that “Effects are dose dependent, beginning 5-10 minutes after using, and continuing for 1 hour after exposure.”
This, as I’ve said in previous posts is a matter to be taken seriously. Effects are dose dependent and one should always use kratom with care and take note of the effects of doses on the body (if you’re taking it now).
Again, follow up for the next and final post on the toxicology of kratom. Please let me know if you have any questions, and as always, the credit for all of the quotes (except the one from the Department of Health) go to:
Feng, Ling-Yi , et al. New psychoactive substances of natural origin: a brief review. Journal of Food and Drug Administration.