Kratom For Pain Relief – How Does it Work?


Kratom has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years in Southeast Asia. It is believed that farmers and labourers would crush the leaves and mix with their tea.

This was used to boost productivity throughout the day. As well as a natural antidepressant, natives also believed it could help with diarrhea and pain.

If they didn’t mix with tea, they would chew on the leaves for a few minutes before spitting it out. So, what about Kratom for pain relief?

Can Kratom be used for pain management? 

Today, people across the western world have started to turn to Kratom for chronic pain relief, as well as a treatment for opioid withdrawal, depression and anxiety. 

Although there has only been a small amount of research conducted into the medicinal uses for Kratom in Canada, the FDA released their findings into the science behind the leaves. Put simply, they found that Kratom is a chemical which binds the mu-opioid receptors (the same part of the brain which becomes activated by taking prescription painkillers or heroin). This is thought to then help control pain by reducing the pain perception in our brains.[1]

A study conducted by John Hopkins Medicine found that out of 2,800 Kratom users, 91% of participants said they use Kratom for pain relief, and two thirds stated that they would recommend it to treat depression and anxiety. Furthermore, around 40% said they used Kratom to help with their opioid withdrawal, and within that figure, 35% said they had not used prescription opioids or heroin for more than a year. [2]

Which type of Kratom is used for pain relief?

Kratom use is categorised by different strains, and the origins in which the leaves come from. Whilst the results will vary depending on the user, there are some strains which users have reported to be more potent than others. 

An online Kratom guide claims that Bali Kratom (a mix of Borneo and Sumatra strains) is highly effective at relieving pain. They found this type of Kratom also boosted productivity and energy levels. In particular, the red strain of Bali Kratom was noted as being fast acting,  high potency and had long lasting effects (pain relief for up to seven hours). Due to its high potency, they recommended taking red Bali before sleeping as it can cause drowsiness. 

Other users have noted the effectiveness of Bali Kratom, and that of Indo and Borneo strains, however their sedative effects make them less desirable for those who want to take pain relief during the day. 

An alternative is ‘Maeng Da’, a strain which has been used in treatment for those with cancer, back pain management and arthritis. This strain is more stimulating than Bali, and some users find it may be too much, so starting off with low dosages is advised. 

Another type also coined the best Kratom for pain relief is Malay (green vein). This is said to be a good compromise of the previous two, effective pain relief, long lasting (up to eight hours) but without causing drowsiness. Some users prefer to mix with Red vein Maeng Da to increase potency. 

How to use Kratom for pain relief 

If you have never used Kratom before, it is advised to start off with very small dosages. Take it in the morning, and on an empty stomach in order to feel the full effects of each dosage. How you choose to take it will depend on your own personal preference. One user claims that she found taking capsules or mixing in a drink took longer for the effects to take place. Instead, she places Kratom under her tongue and washes down with a strong flavored drink. This could be done using powder. 

Many users report the taste of the substance to be overpowering and not particularly pleasant, so it’s advisable to keep a drink or food at hand when consuming. Another popular way, apart from mixing in tea, is to make a smoothie or protein shake using the powdered Kratom. 

Using Kratom will affect each user differently, and many variables will need to be taken into consideration. The users weight, health conditions and how their body reacts to a new substance will need to be monitored at the start. A good starting point is 2-3 grams, but for those whose weight is less than 150 pounds, starting an 1.5 grams might be preferable. The effects should start to take place within 40 minutes, so if after this time you haven’t felt a change, you could slowly increase the dosage. [3]

The side effects of using Kratom 

Due to the lack of research around Kratom, it is still unclear how many people are negatively affected when taking the substance. Many factors will play a part in this, for example if other drugs are taken alongside Kratom and the dosage that the user takes. 

If used frequently, Kratom can cause dependency. Whilst this may stop the user from experiencing some of the side effects and withdrawal symptoms, it will build up a tolerance, meaning the user will have to consume more to gain the same pain relief.[4]  

Some of the Short-term side effects include:

  • Calmness
  • Euphoria
  • Talkativeness
  • Increased social behavior
  • Facial flushing 
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Pupillary constriction 
  • Loss of appetite

Long-term side effects:

  • Anorexia
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Discoloration of the cheeks
  • Psychotic symptoms (hallucinations, delusion, confusion)

Serious side effects such as seizures and even death have generally been attributed to taking large doses of Kratom (over 15g) however there is a lack of findings and data in this area to accurately summarise the dangers. 

Finding the right strain of Kratom for chronic pain relief can take time, as well as money, before you succeed in finding the correct type. With a little research however, it is possible to narrow down your options. There are many factors to take into account before you start using Kratom, and it pays to understand the science behind this new and intriguing herbal alternative before commencing on your treatment journey.







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