Editor’s Note: A number of readers responded strongly and negatively to this column, including some who have clearly used kratom and found it to be of benefit. BioNews respects and welcomes readers’ comments, including those that disagree with opinions expressed by its columnists. But it cannot and will not voice support for unapproved medications that are the subject of an FDA public health advisory (noting kratom’s use as an opioid alternative and to treat pain). We, and our writers, will continue to advise against any medication with “significant safety issues associated with its use.” If readers do choose to use such a medication, we recommend that they do so under medical guidance.
If you visit Facebook groups for fibromyalgia or chronic pain, you probably see posts from warriors who use kratom for pain relief. I read so much about it online and considered it a potential option. But then I came across a warning from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States issued Nov. 14, 2017.
The FDA warns to consumers of “deadly risks” associated with the herb. The warning raises serious concerns about kratom and whether it is a safe alternative for relief of fibromyalgia symptoms.
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia (primarily Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Thailand), but is also found in some areas in Africa. The tree’s leaves produce the drug. It is said to have similar effects as opiates. The leaves can be dried and made into powders or tea. It is sold in various forms including capsules, tablets, paste, tea, etc.
People use it for chronic pain relief as well as for withdrawal symptoms from heroin and other opiates. Some use it for recreational purposes.
Kratom’s active ingredients are 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine. These alkaloids are said to have pain-relieving qualities and may reduce inflammation and relax muscles, which is why FM warriors are attracted to it.
But along with the warning issued, the FDA is also working to prevent the import of it into the United States. Getting your hands on this herb, if you feel the deadly risks are worth the potential reward, is only becoming more difficult. It is already either illegal or regulated in the District of Columbia, Alabama, Wisconsin, Indiana, Arkansas, Vermont and Tennessee. A few cities — including Denver, Sarasota and San Diego — have banned it as well. It is also a no-no in Thailand, Australia, Burma, Finland, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Malaysia, Romania, Sweden, Myanmar and Vietnam, and it is regulated in a few others. Yes, a couple of its countries of origin banned it!
There are negative effects ranging from minor and annoying to life-threatening. It can cause serious issues if taken with alcohol or other drugs. Kratom interacts with the liver’s metabolization of medications, which can lead to dangerous medical conditions, including seizures or liver damage. High doses of kratom may cause nausea, itching and constipation. Driving while using it can be dangerous because of the drowsiness it can cause.
According to DrugAbuse.com, kratom is physically addictive. As kratom use has grown in the United States and worldwide, so have reports of people becoming dependent or addicted to the herb.
I understand how a warrior can become so desperate for relief that he or she will resort to almost anything. But after considering all of these factors, I feel the risks far outweigh any potential benefit. Concerns about the side effects and possible dependency are enough to keep me far away from kratom.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.