The search for a natural, safe alternative remedy for pain has never been greater than today as Americas struggles with a crisis in overuse of opium-derived prescription drugs.
One such natural alternative generating extreme interest is an herbal remedy called kratom. This refers to a group of plants that belong to the Mitragyna genus of the Rubiaceae family. It’s in the same family of plants as coffee. Kratom, a tropical evergreen, is native to southeast Asia. The kratom family of plants grow naturally in Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea.
The native peoples of those countries have been using kratom for centuries, and probably thousands of years for medicinal purposes, including for treatment of pain. It is well known that kratom can be a stimulant, like coffee, when taken in small amounts. But when taken in larger doses, it can have a calming effect and block pain receptors in the body on a cellular level. Kratom is often compared to popular opioid medications today, such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and others.
But does it really work? Modern medical science today will not say so because kratom simply has not undergone enough rigorous medical study on human subjects — and done by mainstream medical institutions that are recognized by the FDA as valid.
On the other hand, many medical professionals today will admit that kratom is almost almost certainly a pain reliever. The fact that kratom has been used for thousands of years in Asia – and that the herbal remedy has stood the test of time – is a powerful indicator that kratom is effective.
Also, a few legitimate academic studies about kratom have began to appear in medical journals. A recent PubMed search revealed that 65 peer-reviewed studies have appeared in medical journals, and 49 of those were issued in just the past 10 years. It’s still a small number but shows that scientific interest in kratom is growing.
Just how kratom works to alleviate pain in humans is unknown although a number of rigorous scientific studies have been performed on animals. Kratom extracts have been tested extensively on mice, rats, cats and dogs.
These tests have allowed researchers to isolate a number of chemical compounds from kratom that produce opioid-like activity on muscle tissue. Scientists note with interest that kratom-derived substances work on central nervous system cells as do opioids.
A report published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association says the pain killing effects of kratom have been attributed to indole alkaloids. Two of them are called mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragyninean, and the latter seems to be the more powerful. Both of these substances also appear to have the same effect as prescription opioids on the intestines and male genitalia. Three other compounds derived from kratom that may fight pain are speciociliatine, speciogynine, and paynatheine.
But millions of ordinary people don’t need to be convinced of kratom’s pain-relieving qualities by scientists studying lab animals – or any kind of science at all. Word-of-mouth chatter about the benefits of kratom has been surging across the Internet in recent years. A simple Google search for testimonials from people who claim kratom works great for pain quickly reveals thousands of cases.
In fact, ScienceDirect reports that some 5 million people are using kratom today in the U.S. alone.
Of couse, scientists say individual testimonials about kratom are merely “anecdotal evidence.” That is, just because someone says he or she achieved pain relief from using a any herbal remedy does not equal scientific fact. For example, if a person reads 100 testimonials about how great a certain herb relieves pain and tries it, it may be psychological suggestion or the placebo effect that is really the source of relief. In other words, maybe it’s “all in their heads.”
That seems highly unlikely in the case of kratom, however. As we’ve seen, scientist have isolated very specific chemical compounds in the plant that demonstrably works on animal systems in a way chemically similar to opioids. It’s almost certain kratom compounds will have the same pain reliving effects on humans.
Furthermore, the fact that kratom is backed up by centuries of steady use by millions of people makes it extremely unlikely this herbal pain-relieving choice is just another wrong turn in the realm of natural medicine.