Kratom is a natural plant that doctors used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years. They utilized it to treat various ailments including pain, fatigue, inflammation and even depression. While some research suggests that kratom can treat some symptoms of depression, scientists are not yet sure that it is effective.
Read on to find out how safe kratom is and its effectiveness in treating depression.
What is kratom?
Kratom, a popular herbal extract, originated from an evergreen tree called Mitragyna speciosa. This tree grows in Southeast Asia, in places like Malaysia and Thailand. The leaves of this tree contain the active ingredient in kratom, mitragynine.
Mitragynine is technically an alkaloid and not an opioid. However, it does have opioid-like effects because of its chemical structure.
In the U.S., citizens were able to purchase kratom in supplement form until 2014, when restrictions were enforced. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not consider kratom (in various forms) a controlled substance. Hence, there are few regulations on it.
If you are looking to buy the plant online, you can still buy kratom in the following forms:
Does Kratom cure depression?
Scientists have not conducted much research on kratom and its effect on mental health. However, a 2017 study on kratom showed that people who suffered from mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety reported a reduction in symptoms after using kratom.
A 2018 review on kratom consumption and mental health confirmed these findings. In this study, people who consumed kratom found it enhanced their mood and reduced anxiety symptoms. The study also noted kratom’s high potential as an opioid substitute for people suffering from opioid addiction.
Scientists found that certain compounds in kratom interact with opioid receptors in the brain. Each person is different but depending on how much kratom is ingested, the following effects may occur:
- lower perception of pain
Mitragynine, one of the active compounds in kratom, is said to work with systems in the brain to cause a stimulant effect. Below are the effects you can anticipate when consuming kratom:
- Low doses of kratom (0.5 – 1.5 teaspoons) can give you more energy
- Moderate doses of kratom (1.5 – 3 teaspoons) may cause state of euphoria
- High doses of kratom (more than 3 teaspoons for some) may have a sedative effect
Side effects and safety
Although some studies suggest that kratom may have a positive effect on depression and other mood disorders,others have warned users of various harmful side effects to taking kratom.
Some possible side effects to be aware of include:
Kratom may have cognitive side effects as well, such as:
- aggression and rage
- risk of addiction
In large doses, kratom can trigger:
- difficulties in breathing
- brain swellings
- liver damage and death
The FDA warned consumers not to use kratom because its properties might put them at risk of addiction. On the other hand, most users online have reported that kratom is not addictive. In fact, some scientists have supported kratom saying it comes from the coffee family of trees. Therefore, the chance of kratom addiction is as likely as coffee, espressos and cappuccinos.
Nevertheless, in the event a person does become addicted to kratom, they may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it.
These symptoms may include:
- muscle and bone pain
- uncontrollable shaking
- mood swings
For some people, symptoms of kratom withdrawal can include depression and anxiety. This makes it difficult to feel any pleasure at all.
Since kratom is not subject to regulation, product safety is an important matter that kratom users must be mindful of. When you buy kratom online from an unknown source, it may contain harmful substances such as heavy metals or dangerous bacteria (i.e. Salmonella).
Additionally, when you buy kratom online you will never know its exact purity and potency until after consumption.
Other depression treatments
For many people, kratom may not be their first choice to treat depression symptoms. Luckily, a person seeking alternative treatment for depression or other mood disorders has many options aside from kratom.
Treatments for depression include:
- antidepressant prescriptions, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) such as sertraline (Zoloft)
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), also known as psychotherapy
There are also many self-care techniques that help relieve symptoms of depression. A person battling depression should work with his or her doctor to create a treatment plan that works for them.
Some notable self-care methods include:
- spending time outdoors
- meeting friends and family
- joining a support group
- eating healthy
- sleeping well
- laughing, and other forms of stress managing techniques
Conclusion: Kratom for treating depression
Kratom leaves originate from an evergreen tree that grows in Southeast Asia. Although many people often use kratom to treat depression and anxiety, but there are also risks that users should be aware of.
Depression is a serious condition that nobody should live with. There are many alternative treatment options for depression or other mood disorders aside from kratom. If you suffer from depression, a doctor may be able to create an effective treatment plan for you. These options include prescription medications, psychotherapy or other self-care measures such as exercising and meditating.