A new legal drug is becoming popular in the US and around the world. This drug is called Kratom (also goes by the name Ketum, and Kratum) which comes from an evergreen tree that is part of the coffee family found in Southeast Asia. The leaves from the tree are dried out and ground into a fine powder which can then be swallowed, smoked or snorted. Kratom has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. The drug is currently legal in most states and countries around the world, even though some areas are starting to regulate the sale. It is very popular in "head shops" and many young people are using it for it's euphoric high which is similar to codeine. Questions are being raised if Kratom is safe for human consumption.
I have been reading about Kratom for the past few years. It made me curious to see what kind of effects people were getting from the drug and if it was a healthy alternative to prescription medications for pain relief. Many users love the pain relieving qualities that the drug provides as well as the fact that it is easy to buy. Kratom is currently legal to purchase in the US, even though the FDA has labeled Kratom as "Drugs and Chemicals of Concern". Although it's relatively cheap, tolerance does build quickly. This alone has some healthcare providers worried. If a plant provides pain relief, plus a euphoric feeling and tolerance builds quickly, many feel that it could be just as harmful as prescription medications. There has not been much research done on the long term effects of Kratom use. In the 1970's there were 5 people who used Kratom for long periods of time who experienced psychosis, convulsions, hallucinations, and confusion. This raised some red flags on it's potential for abuse.
Talking with many people daily about opiate use, I'm starting to hear more people talk about using Kratom. Some of those who I have spoken with admit they are addicted, and that when they try to stop, they feel slight withdrawals. This again is a warning sign that Kratom may be more dangerous and addictive than people realize. The problem with any mind-altering substances is that they change the brains chemical levels and the long term use has not been studied. I commonly hear people tell me that it is safe because it grows in the wild. I find this idea to be ridiculous. You wouldn't eat berries off of a tree that you weren't familiar with because of the potential for them to be poisonous, so the fact that it grows in the ground doesn't mean it's safe to use.
Kratom is habit forming and can cause addiction. Since there is little research that has been done by the scientific community I recommend that people stay away from using it. Do not try Kratom as a pain reliever, or recreationally as the potential for abuse is high. I personally believe that it is only a matter of time before this drug becomes classified and regulated.