Kratom: Everything you need to know

By Nicole Galan

People living in the United States have shown increasing interest in using this substance as an alternative to opioid pain relievers. Other people use kratom to experience the psychotropic effects or the “high.”

Kratom may cause adverse reactions, especially at high doses. These reactions include seizures, tremors, psychosis, and other serious toxic effects.

People who have medical conditions and those who otherwise take medications may have a higher risk of adverse reactions to kratom.

Stimulant effects
In very small doses, of 1–5 grams (g), kratom can act as a stimulant, giving users more energy. They may feel more awake and alert, social, and talkative.

Sedative effects
In higher doses, of 5–15 g, kratom can have a sedative effect. This is similar to the effects of opioids, which cause users to feel tired, calm, and euphoric.

People typically use higher doses to treat a severe cough, diarrhea, or the symptoms of opioid withdrawal.

Doses higher than 15 g can make a person very tired and sedated, even to the point of losing consciousness.

Like opioid drugs, it is possible to overdose on kratom, especially when taking very high doses.

A kratom overdose can result in extreme sedation and loss of consciousness. This is more common in people who are taking other sedating drugs at the same time.

Kratom can be addictive. Someone who uses the drug frequently may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Liver damage
In rare cases, kratom has caused acute liver injuries.

Symptoms of liver damage include fatigue, nausea, itchiness, dark-colored urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

In most cases, people fully recover from liver damage after they stop using kratom.

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