If you’ve ever done research on Kratom, you’re familiar with some of the negative viewpoints on the supplement from government agencies and the like. You may have wondered is Kratom an opiate from the fear-mongering way some sources talk about this organic botanical. Rest assured: Kratom is not an opiate. Keep reading to learn about the differences and similarities between Kratom and opiates.
What Is an Opioid?
To answer the question of is Kratom an opiate, we first need to dive into just what an opiate is.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.” Opioids work by binding to opiate receptors in the brain. There are several different types of opiate receptors, and each opioid interacts with these differently.
While there are legitimate reasons to take opiates, this class of drugs poses real dangers. Even under the care of a physician, many opioid users find themselves addicted to these drugs. Opioid Use Disorder is on the rise, as is the death toll. The rising death rates from opiates, prescription and illegal, have been dubbed the “opioid epidemic” in America.
What Is Kratom?
Kratom, or mitragyna speciosa, is an evergreen tree in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia that can grow to heights of 80 feet. People have been harvesting the leaves of this tree for use in traditional medicine practices for centuries. Additionally, it was common for laborers to pluck these leaves right from the tree and chew on them throughout the day. This practice helped workers to fight pain and fatigue, and keep their mood and energy levels up throughout the day.
Today, you won’t find whole leaves for sale. Instead, today’s Kratom is farmed, harvested, dried, and powdered for packaging. These changes in Kratom production ensure that Kratom powder is consistent, pure, and unadulterated.
Is Kratom an Opiate?
To answer is Kratom an opiate, we also need to understand how Kratom works. Kratom works similarly to an opiate. However, let’s be clear: Kratom is not an opiate.
Kratom works by interacting with our bodies’ opiate receptors. However, the alkaloids in Kratom are only partial agonists of these receptors. So while Kratom works with our bodies to produce similar effects as opiates, it’s not quite the same thing. When Kratom interacts with these receptors, the results are different from when opioids interact with them.
When you take opioids, your body will likely feel intense pain relief, as well as heightened, often intense, euphoria. Remember, people take opioids to get high. This is the effect of opiates that are so addictive. When Kratom interacts with your opiate receptors, it provides pain relief, and it can sometimes provide euphoria (this is usually only present slightly, and during first use). But Kratom offers these remedies in smaller doses.
The Danger Difference
The biggest difference between Kratom and opiates is the chance of you dying from them. Remember that opioid epidemic? The chance of death from opioid use is skyrocketing yearly.
The cause of death with opioid use? Opioid-induced respiratory depression. Literally, your brain stops being able to signal breathing functions — like your diaphragm — and you suffocate to death. This happens, on a cellular level, because during interaction with opioid receptors, opiates recruit a protein called β-arrestin-2. This protein is responsible for the respiratory depression caused by opioid overdose.
While Kratom does work with the same receptors as opiates, it does not recruit β-arrestin-2 as opioids do. Some research has posed that Kratom alkaloids do not recruit the protein at all, while some studies show that Kratom simply has a “ceiling” for respiratory depression that accounts for its favorable safety profile. Either way, the science is clear that Kratom is a much safer alternative to opioids, prescription or not.
Is Kratom an Opiate? Conclusion
Now that we’ve answered the question of “is Kratom an opiate?” with a clear NO! We hope you’re feeling confident about Kratom use over opioids. Our bodies simply weren’t made for these harsh, manmade drugs. Kratom offers relief for the same symptoms that opioids do without the possibility of the thousands of opioid overdose deaths plaguing the country.
When you’re ready to try Kratom for yourself, check out our 3 Free Samples. You can try each color strain of our top-quality, organic Kratom powder and see which one suits you best.