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Kratom Side Effects: The Ultimate Guide to Using Kratom Safely

If you’ve heard on the internet that kratom is a miracle herb, completely free from any side effects, then I truly and regretfully must inform you that this is wrong.

This myth is propagated among many kratom enthusiasts, particularly around online forums like Reddit.

Unfortunately, it’s just not true. Kratom can cause side effects.

This isn’t meant to bring you down, though. Kratom is a powerful plant that has helped heal thousands of people. It has even saved lives. A plant this powerful is bound to cause some side effects if it’s not treated with respect, and that’s the reality.

Being aware of the downsides and side effects of kratom is one of the only ways that we can help to keep this plant safe and legal.

This article will explore the many different side effects that kratom can cause and what you can do to avoid them altogether.

What are the side effects of Kratom?

Kratom can actually cause quite a few different side effects. The catch is that most people only experience a few of them.

It’s important to note that most of these side effects are an indicator that you’re misusing kratom — most likely, you’ve taken too much [1].

Chronic long-term kratom usage can also cause an array of side effects. Many users find that the effects of kratom start to falter once they fall into a pattern of daily usage. If they continue to use, the once-positive effects of kratom transmute into negative and uncomfortable side effects.

Some side effects, however, can emerge with as little as a single dose. Just as substances like coffee come with the inevitable side effects of heightened blood pressure and an increased heart rate, there are some side effects of kratom that result simply from the way that it acts in the body.

Many of these side effects are similar to the side effects caused by opioid analgesics and are well-understood by science. However, kratom can also cause some unfamiliar side effects which are not yet understood.

Your takeaway from this should just be a reminder to be careful and aware. Pay attention to your body during and after your kratom experience. If you can catch the first whiff of a side effect while it’s still subtle, then you can make the appropriate changes to avoid them in the future.

I. Nausea & Vomiting (G.I. Issues)

Nausea and vomiting are almost always a sign that you’ve taken more kratom than your body can handle. Otherwise, they can also be a result of withdrawal. They are especially common in users who have not taken kratom before [2].

Nausea and vomiting are some of the few kratom side effects that can be just mechanical in nature. In other words — at least in your average, everyday case of nausea — there’s not always a complicated biological reason for these effects.

Oftentimes the reason you feel sick is because of the fibrous nature of this herb. Tough fibers like this are difficult for your body to process. This is one of the reasons that the people of Indonesia preferred to simply chew the leaves rather than swallow them whole.

However, nausea can also result simply from alkaloid overload if you’re taking extremely high doses — no matter how you’re taking them.

Some users will recommend that you only take kratom on an empty stomach since it hits you faster and stronger. In terms of safety, however, this is not great advice.

For the purpose of harm reduction, it’s a good idea to always take kratom on a full stomach.

Tips For Avoiding Nausea & Vomiting With Kratom

  • Making kratom tea with ginger is a good way to soothe nausea.
  • Nausea can sometimes be avoided by eating a healthy meal prior to taking your kratom.
  • Staying hydrated
  • Peppermint & peppermint oil
  • If you can eat, eat light crackers

II. Lethargy & Sedation

Kratom is generally stimulating at first. This stimulation tends to fade off into a gentle relaxation later on.

However, as you continue to use kratom on a daily basis, these effects will start to change. The initial, energetic rush will become shorter and less pronounced. The post-energetic relaxation will amount to a sort of lethargic fatigue.

If you continue to use kratom after its beneficial effects start to wane, then you may start to develop chronic fatigue. As your adrenaline and dopamine systems burn out, your body will become less capable of producing energy on its own.

At this point, you’ll find that you need to take kratom simply to motivate yourself to do anything. To avoid this, take a break from using kratom as soon as you notice that its effects are starting to dwindle.

Tips For Avoiding Lethargy with Kratom

  • Reduce your dose of kratom. People are surprised to find that a lower dose often produces more powerful effects.
  • Switch to another kratom strain. ‘Stale strain syndrome’ is a popular term among kratom users, although there may not be much science to back it up. The suggestion is that switching up strains prevents you from becoming tolerant to certain alkaloid ratios.

III. Dizziness

At high doses, and especially with sedating strains, kratom can cause dizziness. This is often one of the side effects that emerge alongside the wobbles. We will discuss the wobbles in more detail later.

Dizziness is most often caused by a drop in blood pressure but can also be a sign of dehydration — which is much more dangerous.

Tips For Avoiding Lightheadedness with Kratom

  • Lie down. The dizziness usually fades into a relaxation once you’ve gotten off your feet.
  • Avoid sudden movements.
  • Drink plenty of water while you consume kratom.
  • Eat some crackers or other light snack (especially in the first 20 minutes after taking) I’ve found this helps the most

IV. Constipation

Constipation is a result of kratom influencing the body’s opioid receptors. This system slows down your digestion and decreases motility (bowel movements).

Some people experience constipation after a single dose of kratom. For most people, constipation tends to occur after using kratom for several days straight.

In either case, if you’re getting constipated, you might want to reduce the amount of kratom that you’re using. Chronic constipation can cause problems with nutrient absorption.

Tips For Avoiding Constipation with Kratom

  • Make sure that you stay hydrated when you’re using kratom, as dehydration can slow down your bowels.
  • Try to eat a diet rich in fibrous fruits and vegetables. Even though kratom itself is basically pure fiber, it’s very difficult to digest. Dietary fibers will help keep you regular.
  • Avoid using kratom every day
  • taking magnesium daily can help you avoid constipation.

V. Brain Fog & Related Effects

One of the most common mental side effects of kratom is brain fog and general cognitive impairment [3]. Brain fog is a term used to describe a sort of muffled thought process. You may find that you’re thinking slower or that you have a harder time calling things to memory.

Some people find that they experience brain fog as the kratom begins to wear off. Stimulating strains tend to fade into a sort of relaxation, although many find that this is more akin to lethargy or fatigue than relaxation. Much like a caffeine crash, this is often accompanied by brain fog.

Brain fog can also become a persistent and constant problem for some using kratom on a daily basis. A number of factors caused by abuse, such as adrenal fatigue and brain chemical imbalances, can cause chronic brain fog even when you’re not using kratom.

Regular, chronic users of kratom (taking more than 15 grams per day) often report that heavy usage affects their memory and cognition adversely. This gets in the way of their social skills, making it harder for them to have a witty or structured conversation.

Brain fog can also impair function at work and lead some people down the road to kratom addiction. Brain fog tends to be more pronounced as the kratom wears off. In an attempt to avoid the inevitable brain fog, some users – especially those invested in mentally demanding jobs – choose to re-dose more kratom every couple of hours in hopes of riding the stimulation and focus all day.

Tips For Avoiding Brain Fog with Kratom

  • Stay hydrated. The brain relies on water for its neurons to fire properly. If you’re dehydrated, you’re going to think more slowly.
  • Make sure that you are getting all of your daily nutrients. The B vitamins, magnesium, omega 3s, and choline are all super important for brain function.
  • Take a smaller dose. The crash will be much less intense and smaller doses prevent alkaloids from building up in your bloodstream.
  • (I take smaller, more regular doses for this reason)

VI. Anxiety

Many people use kratom to manage their anxiety. However, there is a saying among herbalists and practitioners of plant medicine: “If you continue to use plant medicine as a Band-Aid rather than addressing your issues, its side effects will manifest as the very issues you’re trying to treat.”

Even people with no prior anxiety issues have found that kratom abuse can lead to anxiety disorders. For most people, this anxiety tends to disappear after they’ve abstained from kratom for a week or two.

Kratom can cause anxiety in a number of ways. Brain fog can lead to confusion and irritability, which can lead to anxiety. Using it as a band-aid anxiolytic can also cause your anxiety to ‘bottle up,’ and when it releases, you may find yourself in a full-blown panic attack.

Kratom can also influence the adrenaline system. Adrenaline rushes trigger the fight-or-flight response — one of the most common symptoms of anxiety.

Over time, abuse of this plant can cause adrenal fatigue. Physically dependent kratom users sometimes find that they experience a surge of adrenaline in the middle of the night or in the morning as their adrenaline system attempts to find balance

Tips For Avoiding Anxiety with Kratom

  • If kratom is causing anxiety, it’s a sure sign that you are using too much.
  • Reduce your dose and consider taking a break.
  • Use these opportunities to reflect on your anxiety and identify its root cause so you can work on it.
  • Switching strains of kratom may reduce anxiety. (Esp away from whites, some greens, some maeng da, Bali, Thai strains as they can be very energetic)

VII. Other Side Effects

Here are a few other side effects that kratom can cause. Many of these are uncommon or not well-understood.

  • Symptoms of psychosis and mania. These are generally only seen in people who have psychotic disorders, bipolar, and others especially.
  • ANY sort of stimulant can trigger psychosis and mania in these cases.
  • Hallucinations and delusions are extremely uncommon but have occurred.
  • Confusion and short-term memory issues can occur with long-term use.
  • Allergic reactions affecting the skin, sinuses, or digestive tract (it is a natural plant, esp occurring with those with environmental allergies)

References

  1. Veltri, C., & Grundmann, O. (2019). Current perspectives on the impact of Kratom use. Substance abuse and rehabilitation, 10, 23.
  2. Singh, V., Mulla, N., Wilson, J. L., Umansky, A., Lee, J., Stead, T., & Ganti, L. (2020). Intractable nausea and vomiting in naïve ingestion of kratom for analgesia. International Journal of Emergency Medicine, 13(1), 1-4.
  3. Singh, D., Narayanan, S., Müller, C. P., Vicknasingam, B., Yücel, M., Ho, E. T. W., … & Mansor, S. M. (2019). Long-term cognitive effects of Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa Korth.) use. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 51(1), 19-27

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