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Is Kratom an Opioid?

Kratom and other plant-based therapies have been mainstay of traditional medicine across some Asian cultures.

Lately, Kratom has gained increasing popularity across the United States. The herb has also garnered widespread controversy, such that the Drug Enforcement Administration tagged it a "medication of concern." 

Even with the restrictive government [particularly states’] regulations, Kratom's users can swear by the herbs' natural pain relief, energizing, and sedating effects, which works just like opioids. Besides Kratom's opioid-like medicinal effects, both substances also have similar side effects when used in extreme doses.

Is Kratom an Opioid? 

Although opioids and Kratom are different substances, according to FDA classification, Kratom is an opioid.

But before we delve more into kratom and opioids, let’s discuss this new herbal remedy a bit.

What is Kratom?

Kratom is a plant native to South-Eastern Asia. The tree's leaves have been used since ancient times for medical applications and ceremonial rituals. 

Records say the fresh leaves were cut and chewed on by natives, particularly for stress relief. But as the market expands and users rise, especially across the US and Europe, manufacturers in these growing kratom communities have found several more convenient dosage forms. These include capsules, powders, and liquids.

Kratom offer a stimulating effect at low doses, but high doses may leave users high and sedated – like opioids do.

But Kratom – unlike opioids – Is widely sold as nutritional or dietary supplements, not as drugs.

Yet, kratom-infused products are fast becoming widely accepted as alternative treatment for a range of health conditions.

How does Kratom actually Work?

Kratom contains two main compounds, Mitragynine and 7-a-hydroxy Mitragynine. These chemicals bind with the same receptors opioids interact with in the brain. In response, these compounds release a stimulating effect in low doses and sedative effect when consumed in extreme quantity, just like opioid medicines do.

As studies continue to unveil Kratom's actual profile, 25 alkaloids have been identified in the plant, one of which is responsible for the 'high' users report.

Interestingly, the 7-hydroxy Mitragynine is 13 times more potent than Morphine, according to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information.

What are Kratom’s Effects? 

As with opioid drugs, Kratom delivers desired effects in moderate doses. However, extreme amounts may cause a range of adverse reactions, including:

  • Itching
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating 
  • More frequent urination
  • Hallucination
  • Seizure
  • Loss of appetite

In high doses, Kratom may leave you intoxicated, similar to the consequences of opioids' misuse effects. 

Is Kratom an Effective Substitute for Opioids? 


Kratom is a natural source of opioid-like properties. As mentioned, Kratom's alkaloids and opioids interact with the same brain receptors to cause sedation, pain relief, and intoxication.

Also, like opioids, Kratom can cause addiction, tolerance, dependence and with similar withdrawal symptoms and effects.

Even, evidence show Kratom can be used to manage opioid withdrawal. Years back, it was a common prescription for pain and inflammation. Presently, it's widely used for both medicinal and recreational uses, especially across the US and Europe. 

However, with the increasing kratom acceptance, medical practitioners and users are encouraged to relate any unusual reactions to the Food and Drug Administration MedWatch scheme – while the FDA probes further into Kratom's true therapeutic and safety profile. 

While more research is needed to understand how Kratom works fully, existing evidence shows Kratom works as opiates do. Except that Kratom is an organic, more natural, and safer alternative.

Closing Thoughts

What is Kratom? An opioid?

Kratom is an opioid. However, it does not have the same dangers as heroin or more potent opioids. In fact, many people use Kratom to manage their pain without any side effects of addiction or withdrawal symptoms.

While the plant's effects are still being researched, there's no doubt that this Southeast Asian herb can be a powerful pain reliever and relaxant.

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