Kratom leaves are believed to possess medicinal value and have an extensive history of folk medicine use for self-treatment of various indications. Its preparation consists of extracts derived from the leaves of a tree known as Mitragyna speciosa Korth., from the Rubiaceae (coffee) family, whicused widely as a remedy for a common broad range of conditions and ailments such as fever, diarrhea, diabetes, hypertension, cough, pain, and even as a wound poultice (2–4). Additionally, kratom has also been used to self-treat opium, heroin, amphetamine and alcohol use (5–7). In the United States (U.S.), people have reported using kratom for self-management of chronic pain, fatigue, psychiatric issues (such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit) and substance use disorder (SUD). Moreover, some use kratom to alleviate symptoms of opioid withdrawal (8–10).

Given that individuals with diverse medical histories and conditions are using kratom for various medicinal purposes, it is crucial to understand such a “self-medication” phenomenon better. Although kratom is considered safe due to its natural origins, no controlled clinical studies examining kratom’s potential risks, safety, toxicity, tolerability, or effects in humans have been conducted to date. Virtually all reports published are based on self-reported (subjective) measures and experiences. There have been no controlled human laboratory or clinical studies using objective measures to assess self-reported medicinal effects of kratom (11).

Nevertheless, data show that preclinical research continues to demonstrate kratom’s effects and potential to substitute for full opioid agonist (2,10,12,13). Furthermore, certain large-scale studies indicate the relatively effective, albeit slightly problematic, utilization of kratom for self-treatment of pain in the U.S. (14,15), or as demonstrated in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted in Malaysia (16).

Although preclinical data suggest promising features of kratom as a potential remedy for opioid dependence and withdrawal, further scientific studies need to be conducted to clarify its potential therapeutics and gain a more comprehensive understanding of its effects.



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  13. Kamble SH, Berthold EC, King TI, Raju Kanumuri SR, Popa R, Herting JR, et al. Pharmacokinetics of Eleven Kratom Alkaloids Following an Oral Dose of Either Traditional or Commercial Kratom Products in Rats. J Nat Prod. 2021 Apr 23;84(4):1104–12.
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