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Is Kratom an Opioid, or Does It Just Act on Opioid Receptors?

Kratom has been a very popular tree native to the South East Asian region. The leaves of the tree have found a wide spread use over the years as herbal drugs due to the psychoactive effect it can cause. Traditionally the leaves of the plant were eaten by the natives of the region to boost their stamina and strength while working for long hours. The drug let them combat stress fatigue to a great extent. The drug was potent to act as a stimulant at low doses and as a sedative at higher doses. Since Kratom has gained popularity as a recreational drug over the years people generally tend to associate into be an opioid. But is kratom really an opioid?

Opioids are nothing but a class of drugs that have depressant qualities on the human body. These act by stimulating the central nervous system affecting the heart rate and other body functions. Opioids are capable of causing a sensation of immense mental euphoria in the body for endorphin is released when these are ingested. One of the most common examples of opioids has been heroin and morphine. The mechanism of these is to mainly fuse with the receptors in the body cells to create the pshyco aticve effects. But the risks of damaging the bodily functions due to the use of oipates are high. They make you dependent and addictive and when they are taken away generally people experience immense withdrawal symptoms that are hard to tolerate. Now the question arises is kratom also an opioid or is just similar to it in mechanism?

This will become clearer once we study how it works. Kratom is generally known to contain a number of active compounds called alkaloids with Mitragynine being the major one. These alkaloids are actually opioid agonists which mean they have the affinity for opioid receptors present in your brain. Once the leaves are ingested the active compound Mitragynine binds to these receptors influencing your mood and giving a feeling euphoria just like the opioids. But the difference lies in the type of the opioid receptors they bind to. Research shows that kratom has more affinity towards the delta opioid receptors while the actual opioids like heroin have affinity towards the mu opioid receptors. Also kratom is known to react with a small set of opioid receptors unlike others by acting like endorphin and do not damage the body in the long run. Another key difference is that unlike opioids they bring relief to the body without being addictive hence you do not experience withdrawal symptoms. In fact kratom has been widely used to quit oipate addiction as these help you fight the withdrawal symptoms. Several medical institutions have in fact suggested the therapy as they believe that the alkaloids present in kratom provide the similar euphoric effects and relief to the body but without damaging the bodily functions like the traditional opiates. Kratom has become a major part of the anti opioid addiction programs across the world. Hence one can say that kratom only has certain similarities in the effects it causes but is not actually an opioid.

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