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Kratom use: Florida Trends and Concerns

Kratom Becomes Issue for Florida Residents

It’s interesting how the leaves from a tropical Southeastern Asian tree can be cause for so much concern, but this is the case of the herbal supplement known as kratom.  Kratom is designed to act as a stimulant when taken in small doses, and when taken in larger doses, act as a sedative. It’s available as a pill, capsule, extract, tea leaves or powder. Although there is no national regulation of the herbal supplement, several states have banned its usage, and it is not regulated by the FDA.

Users of it report opioid-like effects similar to morphine or codeine, making the supplement desirable to those wanting to use it to curb opiate withdrawal. That is because matragynine, the active ingredient in kratom, binds to the opioid receptors in the brain; resulting in pain relief. While this sounds like an appealing option to those seeking relief from opioid dependence, depression, anxiety, inflammation, pain, lack of energy (just to name a few symptoms that kratom claims to alleviate) we recommend you speak with a doctor before trying the supplement.

Remember, it is a dietary supplement so there is no regulation with respect to safety and its effectiveness for the treatment of any medical conditions. In fact, those who have tried it have reported side effects including nausea, sweating, loss of appetite, constipation, and hallucinations; just to name a few. In severe cases, kratom has been linked to death (overdose), while it is important to note that in most cases other substances such as alcohol, caffeine, benzodiazepines, fentanyl and cocaine were involved. Just like opioids, kratom has been linked to dependence, with users experiencing withdrawal symptoms including muscle aches, insomnia, emotional changes, high blood pressure and psychosis.

While it may be tempting to try kratom given some of the positive effects on the brain and body that have been reported, it’s important to emphasize that scientific research is extremely limited. There is no specific medical treatment to treat kratom addiction. Behavioral therapy has been reported to be helpful, but more research needs to be conducted to identify an effective treatment protocol. Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence showing if it is either safe or effective for the purposes that people are using it for. While the jury is still out on the idea of using kratom to control withdrawal cravings and other medical conditions, the scientific community agrees that further research is warranted to determine its safety.

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