Kratom Should Be Used For Pain Management, Instead Of Life Destroying Opiates And Synthetic Opioids
A wide variety of conditions can cause pain. It can be something simple and short term like wisdom teeth being removed, or something complex and long term like herniated discs or cancer. When acetaminophen (Tylenol) or a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen is not sufficient to manage pain, the only option that doctors have is to write a prescription for synthetic opioids or opiates. This is despite the fact that synthetic opioids and opiates induce the potentially life destroying disease of opioid dependence, and that a better and completely natural alternative called Kratom exists. This article will explore opioid addiction, dependence, and withdrawal, and how Kratom is a natural and relatively safe alternative to synthetic opioids and opiates.
Synthetic Opioids And Opiates Kill Tens Of Thousands Of People Every Year
Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that prescriptions for synthetic opioids and opiates reached their zenith in 2012, when 81.3 prescriptions were written for every 100 Americans. Of course many of these prescriptions were written for the same patient, especially since pill mills were common back then, where a patient went from pain clinic to pain clinic to get as much drugs as they could. This was fueled by the highly addictive nature of synthetic opioids and opiates, as well as the fact that each pill could be worth anywhere from $5 to $100 on the street, making it so a patient could make a living just by selling their pills.
Further, oftentimes the friends and family members of patients would steal opioid pain medication, causing them to become addicted, causing the opioid epidemic to further proliferate.
The results of the synthetic opioid epidemic have been catastrophic. In 2017, which is the most recent year that the CDC has data for, 28,000 people overdosed and died due to prescription synthetic opioids. In many states the rate of deaths from prescription synthetic opioid overdoses increased 10-30% from 2016 to 2017.
In response to the synthetic opioid epidemic, doctors began to cut the number of prescriptions that they were writing. The pill mills closed up one by one, and even regular doctors cut off numerous patients. This led to another tragedy. Patients who had become dependent on synthetic opioids but were cut off either had the choice of going through withdrawals, and then having no pain medication even if they continued to have a physical condition which caused pain, or they could turn to heroin. Also, people who were illicitly using synthetic opioid pills turned to heroin, due to street prices skyrocketing as the supply of pills dwindled.
The result is that 15,000 people overdosed and died from heroin in 2017. Heroin is even worse than synthetic opioid pills, since it is almost always cut, making it so people cannot properly measure their dose. Also, oftentimes heroin is cut with fentanyl or fentanyl analogues. Therefore, someone might be used to relatively weak heroin, and then they get a bag of strong heroin, or a bag of heroin cut with fentanyl, and that person takes the same amount as usual but it ends up being much stronger, which can cause an overdose and possibly death.
Overdoses from synthetic opioids and heroin combined are the leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States, killing 47,600 people in 2017.
How Synthetic Opioids And Opiates Work, And How They Cause The Disease Of Opioid Dependence
The reason that synthetic opioids and opiates kill so many people is that they are highly addicting and they induce respiratory depression, which can turn into a complete respiratory shutdown at high doses. In order to understand how someone can take so much opioids that their lungs shutdown, it is important to learn how opioids work, and how they induce the disease of opioid dependence.
First off, the difference between synthetic opioids and opiates is that opiates are natural alkaloids derived from the Opium plant, including morphine, codeine, and thebaine. Synthetic opioids are typically chemical derivations of opiates, and include heroin, hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, etc.
Both synthetic opioids and opiates act in basically the same way, via binding as an agonist with the opioid receptors, which are located in the brain, spinal cord, peripheral neurons, and gastrointestinal tract. There are three types of opioid receptors, kappa, delta, and mu. An agonist binding with the kappa-opioid receptor causes pinpoint pupils and spinal pain relief, and an agonist binding with the delta-opioid receptor results in some pain relief.
However, most of the effect of opiates and synthetic opioids is caused by binding with the mu-opioid receptor, which results in analgesia (pain relief), sedation, euphoria, and respiratory depression. The respiratory depression aspect of synthetic opioids and opiates is what can lead to overdose and death, via causing a victim’s lungs to stop working.
The euphoric aspect of opioids and opiates is what makes them so addictive. Basically, dopamine is released into the brain due to activation of the mu-opioid receptor, and this is the same pleasure molecule that is released when eating, exercising, having sex, or accomplishing something. In-fact, the body produces endorphins during these activities, which are chemically similar to morphine and bind to the mu-opioid receptors to release dopamine and relieve pain in the same way.
Thus, opioids and opiates exactly mimic the body’s natural molecules to feel pleasure and relieve pain, and therein lies the danger. Instead of having to accomplish things for the body to release endorphins, which is what intrinsically helps humans to survive, someone with painkilling drugs can feel all the pleasure they want to without doing anything. This is part of the reason why someone’s life can completely fall into disorder while taking synthetic opioids or opiates.
The binding of synthetic opioids and opiates to mu-opioid receptors causes several simultaneous changes in the brain which lead to physical addiction, and these changes can begin within a few days of persistent use. First off, the opioid receptors become less sensitive to the drugs, causing a person to require a higher and higher dose to achieve the same euphoria and pain relief. This is called tolerance, and it can build rapidly. A patient may start on the weakest synthetic opioid or opiate, which are tramadol and codeine respectively, but within months could require the strongest drugs such as heroin, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl. Even with these strongest synthetic opioids, a point eventually comes where the person can no longer get high no matter how much they take, since the opioid receptors become so desensitized.
Simultaneously, repeatedly taking synthetic opioids and opiates suppresses noradrenaline in the brain. Noradrenaline is responsible for wakefulness, breathing, blood pressure, and general alertness. Indeed, the suppression of noradrenaline is the reason that synthetic opioids and opiates cause respiratory depression.
The brain responds to this noradrenaline suppression by releasing more noradrenaline than usual, and if the drugs are discontinued there will be a massive wave of noradrenaline throughout the body. This causes anxiety, restless legs, high blood pressure, muscle cramps, and diarrhea. These symptoms in combination are called ‘dope sickness’, and the patient will have a major incentive to take more drugs, because the drugs will quickly relieve these symptoms.
The 3rd factor is that the brain will release less natural dopamine in response to the surge of dopamine from the drugs, so when the drugs are discontinued it can cause normally pleasurable activities like eating to be not pleasurable at all, and in general will make a patient depressed. This factor is a primary cause of psychological dependence.
It is clear that opioid addiction is a disease since it causes physical changes in the body which sustain the addiction. The addiction is both psychological and physiological, and can become all encompassing for a patient. Further, tolerance to respiratory depression does not buildup in the same way as tolerance to pain relief and euphoria, so a patient can end up overdosing while taking more and more drugs in an attempt to get pain relief and euphoria.
Kratom Is A Much Safer Alternative To Synthetic Opioids And Opiates
Kratom is derived from the leaves of Mitragyna Speciosa, which is a tropical evergreen tree indigenous to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea. Kratom is literally the leaves of the tree without any further processing, making it 100% organic. Kratom is the only other plant besides opium that produces opioid effects, and these effects are primarily due to the alkaloids 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine which are naturally present within the leaves.
7-hydroxymitragyne is 17 times more potent than morphine while mitragyne is about half as potent as morphine according to a lab test which studied the effects of Kratom on the intestines of guinea pigs. Therefore, Kratom can be a powerful painkiller. That being said, the concentration of 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine in really strong Kratom is only about 0.05% and 1.5% respectively, so a significant amount of leaf must be consumed to get a strong dose. This is the first natural safety measure of Kratom, it is not like synthetic opioid pills which can easily be popped. Kratom has a bitter taste, so people who take Kratom tend to only take it when they really need it. Also, trying to take tons of Kratom will lead to nausea and vomiting. In other words, unlike synthetic opioid pills which can be popped over and over, if someone takes too much Kratom they will puke almost immediately, preventing an overdose.
A brief segue into how Kratom is consumed. The best method is called ‘toss n wash’, where the Kratom is placed onto the spoon and then carefully placed into the mouth between the tongue and the roof of the mouth. It is important not to let it go all over your mouth, to prevent a gagging reaction since it is highly bitter. The Kratom can then be chased down with juice, preferably orange juice, making sure to to only swallow once all the Kratom is suspended in the juice.
The other method of ingestion is by making tea, which can be even more bitter than toss n wash. It is possible to make Kratom tea somewhat palatable by adding tons of hot chocolate to it.
This is the 2nd natural safety measure of Kratom, it cannot be injected, smoked, or snorted, only taken orally. Synthetic opioid and opiate users often get into major trouble because they are snorting, smoking, and injecting the drugs, since this is what enables someone to take too much too fast which can cause an overdose, and also rapidly increases tolerance. With Kratom this is not possible. If someone is trying to take too much Kratom too fast they will definitely vomit, and also Kratom effects come up slowly since it is taken orally.
The primary natural safety measure of Kratom is it does not simply cause opioid effects, it contains 26 additional alkaloids besides mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. This leads to a complex effects profile where Kratom can be highly stimulating in low doses and more sedating in high doses. However, even in high doses there is plenty of stimulation even if someone feels completely sedated.
This is totally different than synthetic opioids and opiates, which produce shallow breathing and a slow heartbeat. Even if someone is passing out on a strong dose of Kratom their heart will be pumping strong and their breathing will not be shallow.
Part of the reason for this is that Kratom contains a natural mu-opioid antagonist called corynantheidine. Opioid antagonists are the only thing that can reverse an overdose from synthetic opioids or opiates, such as the life saving drug naloxone. Since Kratom naturally has a mu-opioid antagonist, it prevents the opioid effects of Kratom from getting stronger past a certain point.
Subjectively and anecdotally, there is a certain Kratom dose that can be taken for maximum effects, beyond which point no more opioid euphoria or sedation is produced no matter how much extra Kratom is taken. This prevents overdoses, and also lowers the abuse potential of Kratom. Unlike synthetic opioids which can be taken over and over for increasing effects, Kratom cannot simply be taken over and over to increase the effect, it just won’t work.
Further, 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine are atypical opioids according to a scientific study, and barely produce respiratory depression.
Other alkaloids in Kratom increase its effectiveness as a pain reliever by producing other effects that are non-opioid but compliment pain relief. Paynantheine, speciogynine, mitraphylline, and ajmalicine are smooth muscle relaxers, which can greatly contribute to pain relief and relaxation. Rhynchophylline is an anti-inflammatory, which contributes to pain relief.
Thus, Kratom is essentially a miracle plant. It can provide potent painkilling properties via the opioid receptors, but simultaneously its potential for abuse, addiction, and overdose is decreased since it can only be taken orally and induces vomiting if too much is taken, it is naturally stimulating which limits respiratory depression, it includes a natural opioid antagonist which helps prevent overdose and makes it so taking more Kratom beyond a certain amount does not increase euphoric effects, 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine are atypical opioids and barely produce any respiratory depression relative to morphine-like opioids, and it includes alkaloids which produce smooth muscle relaxation and anti-inflammatory effects, reducing the amount needed for pain relief.
To be clear Kratom is addictive, and this article is not trying to say it is not, just that it is far less addictive than synthetic opioids and opiates. It can be psychologically and physically addicting, but the addiction is nowhere near comparable to synthetic opioids and opiates. With synthetic opioids and opiates the addiction truly grabs control of your brain almost immediately, and it can take over someone’s life and become just as important as breathing oxygen, especially since trying to quit leads to horrifying withdrawal. With Kratom there is no extreme craving to take it, and it can be taken just once a day even with long term use, unlike synthetic opioids and opiates which are ultimately taken many times a day once addiction develops. Another way of saying it is Kratom compliments life, instead of taking it over.
The withdrawal from Kratom is mild compared to synthetic opioids and opiates. Even after using it everyday for years the withdrawal will consist of feeling fatigued for several days, with some insomnia thrown into the mix, and diarrhea. Typically 5-7 days after quitting most of the symptoms are gone, aside from the diarrhea which could last for a couple of weeks, and even during the worst of the withdrawal it is easy to keep working. Compare this to the skin crawling, full body torture hell of synthetic opioid and opiate withdrawal, which completely stops someone’s life and they are not able to function until they recover a week or two later.
The Government Has Created False Hysteria To Try And Ban Kratom, And Failed Except In 6 States
Despite all of the beneficial properties of Kratom, and the millions of people which are successfully using it, the FDA has not approved Kratom as a painkiller and it is therefore not prescribed by doctors. In-fact, the government even tried to ban Kratom by creating a hysteria over several overdoses on Kratom extracts that may have actually been synthetic opioids in disguise. This is absurd, nonsensical, and irresponsible, and the government created this situation by not approving and regulating Kratom properly, giving bad actors the opportunity to lace ‘Kratom extracts’ with powerful synthetic opioids.
There has literally not been a known case of someone overdosing on natural Kratom leaf itself. There are cases of people mixing lots of drugs together when taking Kratom, which could cause an overdose, and the government usually tries to blame this on the Kratom despite the presence of other powerful drugs in the victim’s blood. Indeed, people should not take other drugs when using Kratom, and it is quite unnecessary to begin with since Kratom is highly effective all by itself.
Unfortunately, the false hysteria has caused Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Washington DC to make Kratom illegal, which is a true injustice to the people in those states since it leaves dangerous synthetic opioids and opiates as the only option. Fortunately, there was such an uproar when the federal government tried to ban Kratom that it did not happen.
Due to the fact that Kratom is not approved by the FDA, it can be hard to obtain real Kratom. Most headshops sell Kratom, but this is often cut with other inactive herbs and not a healthy option, and can be extremely expensive. Importing Kratom from the manufacturers in Indonesia is an option, but Kratom is often seized by customs at the border due to an FDA import ban.
It is my sincere hope that this information will reach people who require pain management, before a doctor puts them on potentially life destroying synthetic opioids and opiates. Kratom relieves pain while simultaneously not taking over someone’s brain and life, since its addiction and withdrawal potential is much lower. Further, the potential for Kratom to cause an overdose is almost non-existent. A scientific study found that synthetic opioids and opiates are over 1,000 times more likely to cause an overdose than Kratom.
Patients who need pain management have enough problems to deal with, and it is ethically wrong for doctors to throw the potentially life destroying disease of synthetic opioid and opiate addiction into the mix if there is a readily available alternative like Kratom.