Recently there has been a hue and cry about people losing lives as a result of overdosing on kratom. Before going into the details let us know what kratom is and what its uses are.
Kratom is also known as katum. Its belongs to the coffee family and a tropical evergreen plant. This plant is found mainly in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea. The leaves of this plant have opioid and stimulant properties and hence used as a traditional herbal medicine in these places. People chew the leaves of this plant either fresh or in dried form. They also make tea with leaves or dry the leaves and make them into a powder; this powder is later mixed with water or milk to mask the taste.
Kratom is used as a medicine to heal wounds, increase energy and appetite, treat coughs and colds, diarreah, intestinal infections and also as a local anaesthetic. In modern times people use it as a recreational drug and also for relieving chronic pain and mood improvement. It is used by people to fight the withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction even though the excessive use of kratom can lead to addiction.
For starters, the recommended dose is between 2 to 3 grams. At such low doses the powder has stimulating and energy enhancing properties. A potent dose of kratom is 5 grams. Users of this powder should never take more than 5 grams at once and it should be taken only once in a day.
Side effects of kratom when not taken in recommended dosages are contracted pupils, itching, nausea, loss of appetite, increased urination, tremors, anorexia, weight loss , seizures and psychosis. The greatest risk of taking Kratom is the risk of falling asleep so it is advisable not to take kratom while driving or doing hazardous activities. However it is advisable not to combine kratom with alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates, drugs for treating depression or other drugs as this may lead to over sedition or respiratory depression which might lead to death.
Coming to the reports of deaths due to the use of herbal supplement kratom, where the reason for death is cited as pulmonary oedema due to kratom overdose or intoxication. The active element found in kratom is mitragynine, which is never found to cause pulmonary oedema. The medical examiners rushed to form conclusions to support the political narrative of banning kratom without conducting deeper examination of the reports which show the presence of anabolic steroids and anti anxiety medications which are the main cause of pulmonary oedema. While this is the case of recent happenings, there are many other older cases where there were other drugs found in the blood like overdose of pain killers, cocaine, citaloprom and cyclobenzaprine.
There are lakhs of people who use kratom as a supplement or a medicine to fight addiction and the number of deaths is a minor percentage. If kratom is the cause of death, then a majority of these users have to be effected. There has been no scientific study to prove that kratom usage causes death there are many other medicines whose side effects state that over dosage might result in life threatening complications. The number of deaths recorded for over dosing on pain killers is much more than the deaths wrongly attributed to kratom.
The users also must use the kratom supplement responsibly. They should not use more than the recommended dose of maximum 5 grams. They should take a break regularly from using kratom to avoid addiction. And never mix it with any other drugs which might cause life threatening complications.