Category Archives: Home Health Hazards

Addiction Home Health Hazards Substance Abuse

Is Kratom Use Good or Bad for Your Health?

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kratom abuse

Controversy is now surrounding the use of a relatively new drug called Kratom. While it has been used for thousands of years in some Asian countries, it has not been introduced in Europe and the United States until recently. Debates abound as to the benefits and adverse effects of ingesting the substance.

While it is becoming more popular among Americans who use it for both medical and recreational purposes, there is a pronounced lack of research and clinical data to support the claims of its therapeutic properties.

Since further studies on the benefits, drawbacks, and safety of Kratom use are yet to be pursued, users of Kratom and the public in general, are strongly advised to be armed with the available information about the substance.

What is Kratom?

Kratom or ketum refers to a tropical, evergreen tree of the coffee family that thrives in the jungles of several Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Bali, and Sumatra. It is scientifically called Mitragyna speciosa and its leaves contain potent amounts of compounds called alkaloids.

In Asia, the substance is ingested by chewing the leaves, whether raw or dried. Most users, however, prefer to crush the leaves and dissolve the powder in liquids such as water. The leaves themselves may also be brewed into a tea.

kratom abuse

In the United States, Kratom may be purchased in leaf form but the drug is more commonly sold in capsules that contain the powdered material. It may be taken by either smoking the powder from the capsule or drinking the tea brewed from the leaves. More ingenious users, however, extract a resin from the evaporated water of the Kratom tea and convert the substances to pellets which can be swallowed.

Others mix Kratom with drinks or food to mask the bitter taste. Among the popular practices are mixing or blending the substance with yogurt, peanut butter, honey, juice, chocolate drinks, and milkshakes.

The reported effects of Kratom are contradicting and vary according to the amounts taken. Lower doses promote a stimulating effect while higher doses produce a sedating outcome.

Reported Uses of Kratom

Kratom was first documented by a Dutch botanist named Pieter Korthals in 1839. The substance was traditionally used in some parts of Asia for its various medicinal properties. Currently, it is used both for both recreational and therapeutic purposes.

Here are some of its known uses:

Traditional medicine

The use of Kratom was initially explored in Thailand where it was incorporated into traditional medicinal practices to treat maladies such as diarrhea, chronic pain, and anxiety. In earlier years, it was commonly used by laborers to boost their moods and energy levels after long hours at work. Later, it was utilized to treat opioid dependence.

In neighboring countries, Kratom has been used to cure other illnesses such as intestinal infections, muscle pain, and cough.

Pain reliever

Two of the alkaloids contained in Kratom called Mitragynine and 7-OH-mitragynine have strong analgesic properties. Though the effect produced is less potent than morphine, the drug is still effective in the treatment of chronic pain.

Among the conditions that can be efficiently managed by Kratom are migraines, back pain, chest pain, neck pain, vascular pain, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, scoliosis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

While Kratom is not classified as an opiate, it behaves similarly to opiates. Thus, it has been used as a substitute for opium in some areas like Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries whenever the latter is not available.

In the United States, many users have resorted to Kratom as an alternative to prescription drug medications such as methadone and other opioids.

Treatment of opiate withdrawal

Kratom works by binding mu opioid and delta receptors in the brain. It has been said to affect a user the same way that opiates do. As such, it may be effective in the treatment of opioid dependence. It has been said to be valuable for the management and suppression of opiate withdrawal symptoms including cravings, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.

However, though there has been a significant increase in the number of users who prefer Kratom as a remedy to relieve withdrawal symptoms that arise from chronic opioid use, there is a lack of significant clinical studies to merit a conclusion as to the efficacy of Kratom in the treatment and management of opioid addiction.

Sexual performance enhancer

Several users claim that using Kratom promotes sexual endurance and performance. The alkaloids in Kratom extracts aid in enhancing libido and sexual pleasure among both men and women.

In Thailand, it is also customarily used to prevent premature ejaculation during sexual intercourse. It has been reported that consuming even as little as one gram of Kratom powder can boost the libido for as long as 12 hours.


When used appropriately, some strains of Kratom have stimulating effects that help uplift moods and promote feelings of satisfaction. The substance is said to be beneficial for those undergoing depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and similar conditions.

Taking too much of drug, however, can produce the exact opposite effect as ingesting large doses of Kratom is known to induce sedation.

Cognitive enhancer

Many users claim that Kratom produces energizing effects similar to caffeine. The stimulating effects support improved focus, concentration, and memory. The drug has been found to promote cognitive functions and to enhance mental acuity. Some users who exhibit ADHD symptoms have reported that using the substance has helped them focus on challenging mental activities. It is said to be more efficient than most nootropic supplements in the market.

Relaxant and sedative

Consuming larger doses of Kratom leaves or extracts can promote calmness and relaxation. It helps to manage stress, anxiety, and tension. The drug is also known to improve sleep quality. Many users claim that taking Kratom helps them sleep for longer periods but it does not give them a “hangover” feeling in the morning. Thus, many prefer using the substance over prescription sedatives.

Recreational use

In recent years, recreational use of Kratom has spread over the United States. Users claim that Kratom emulates the effects of MDMA and low-dose marijuana but produces the right balance of relaxation and stimulation. Young professionals maintain that using the drug is a good way to unwind after a long day at work.

It has also become a social drug as its effects help users feel more outgoing and energized during gatherings or social activities.

Adverse Effects

While most users in the United States do not report having encountered any problems with using Kratom, consumption of the substance at higher or more frequent doses may produce adverse reactions. Some of the side effects include dry mouth, nausea, reduced appetite, sleeping disorders, bowel obstruction, and darkening of the skin.

In Southeast Asia, however, where the use of the drug is more widespread, there have been accounts of more severe reactions such as delusion, aggression, and schizophrenia. Chronic users have also reported experiencing withdrawal symptoms that include irritability, weight loss, insomnia, diarrhea, muscle spasms, and fever. It is suspected that these effects were brought about by either having ingested the substance in larger doses or having used Kratom in conjunction with other drugs or intoxicating beverages.

Whether or not Kratom is highly addictive is largely debated. Narconon asserts that habitual use can increase tolerance and develop compulsion or addiction. Because of the reports gathered from other countries where it is largely consumed, it is recommended that users exercise caution in taking Kratom. It is advised that the drug should not be used more than twice a week to reduce the possibility of developing dependence.

New users should not attempt to experiment with larger doses as the physiological effects of the drug vary from person to person.

In addition, using the substance in conjunction with other drugs and opiates is strongly discouraged as overstimulation can result in increased blood pressure. When used with sedatives or benzodiazepines, it can cause over-sedation, central nervous system depression, and respiratory distress.

There has, however, been no reported case of overdose or death arising from the use of Kratom.

Legality of Kratom Use

Although the use of Kratom has been accepted to be part of Thailand’s culture and traditional practices, it has actually been outlawed since 1943 when the Kratom Act was passed. The law criminalized possession of Kratom leaves, planting, and cultivating Kratom plants.

However, implementing the law posed an enormous challenge to the Thai government because eradication efforts included setting fire to rainforests where the trees naturally flourish. The results were detrimental to the wildlife and ecosystems of the country.

In 1979, Kratom was included in the Narcotics Act and was classified as a Category 5 substance. Regulatory efforts continue to persist in Thailand where the use of the substance is most prevalent.

Kratom is illegal in other countries such as Malaysia, Myanmar, Australia, and Denmark.

In the United States, Kratom has not been declared illegal by the Federal Government. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Kratom is currently not included in any of the categories under the Controlled Substances Act.

Some states, however, have passed legislation prohibiting use and possession of Kratom. The jurisdiction includes Alabama, Indiana, Vermont, Illinois, and Tennessee.

In other parts of the country, Kratom continues to be available for purchase whether over the counter at various shops, or over the internet. No license or prescription is required to buy, possess or use the drug. Some users previously imported the leaves from some Asian Pacific countries until 2015, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated this practice by issuing directives for the immediate seizure of such shipments from listed vendors.

There have been increasing reports of emergency room visits resulting from Kratom use. The patients either complained of adverse reactions to the substance or of withdrawal symptoms. But more statistical data and scientific information are needed before the drug can be appropriately classified. The same information will validly determine whether regulatory or criminal legislation must be passed and enforced.

In the meantime, medical practitioners are rushing to find whatever resources they could to enable them to manage and treat patients who may present signs of Kratom tolerance, dependence, or withdrawal.

It is hoped that current users of Kratom who take it either as an alternative to prescription drugs or as a choice for recreational habits would use the substance responsibly and moderately to avert the negative effects that are already known or published.

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Thirdhand Smoke Adds To Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

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cigarette smoking secondhand thirdhand smoke

Thirdhand smoke has been linked to several negative health problems, and a new study adds another health risk in the form of diabetes.

According to a research team from the University of California, thirdhand smoke triggers insulin resistance, which is known as one of the major precursors to Type 2 Diabetes. “In type 2 diabetes, glucose does not enter the cells and increased levels of insulin, resulting from an overburdened pancreas, do nothing to facilitate glucose entry into cells for producing energy,” said study lead author Manuela Martins-Green via a news article.

Thirdhand smoke is the result of cigarette smoke getting absorbed by surfaces such as clothes, home and indoor furniture, and even human hair. This is different from secondhand smoke, which is the exhaled cigarette smoke that people may directly inhale or get exposed to. The health hazards of thirdhand smoke stem from the fact that it contains chemicals that may be harmful to humans. “This includes toxins that become increasingly toxic with age and are re-emitted into the air or react with other chemicals in the environment to produce new pollutants… Some of these pollutants are carcinogenic,” Martins-Green said.

The team used lab mice to determine the effect of thirdhand smoke on insulin resistance and other health factors. One group of mice was housed in cages that were previously exposed to secondhand smoke, while the other group was placed in clean cages. The animals exposed to thirdhand smoke were given a high-fat diet to mimic an average human diet.

Results showed that the mice exposed to thirdhand smoke had a higher degree of insulin resistance and oxidative stress. “If confirmed in humans, our study could greatly impact how people view exposure to environmental tobacco toxins,” the study lead author expressed.

The team emphasized the importance of studying about thirdhand smoke. “Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to THS and its impact on health. Because infants frequently crawl on carpets and touch objects exposed to exhaled smoke, they are at high risk for THS exposure. The elderly are at high risk simply because older organs are more susceptible to disease,” Martins-Green added.

The study was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.


Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Pregnancy & Fertility

New Research Says Alcohol May Affect Fetuses Even Before Women Know They’re Pregnant

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New research has found that there may be a risk to fetuses by mothers who drink prior to learning they are pregnant.

The research has found that in mice, drinking alcohol within even the first three weeks of pregnancy may create changes in the genes of the embryo that can result in permanent damage.

Although the research only pertains to mice thus far, it could have implications for humans, as well. The researchers suggest that women consider cutting out alcohol from their lives as soon as they make a decision to try and get pregnant or if they remotely suspect they are pregnant.

“Our findings suggest that alcohol can harm fetus in early pregnancy, a time period when women are often not aware of their pregnancy,” Dr. Nina Kaminen-Ahola, a biologist at the University of Helsinki and the study’s lead author, said. “Therefore, it would be good to decrease the alcohol consumption as soon as one plans to have a baby.”

At this point, it’s still too early to say how much alcohol consumption it would take to harm a human fetus during early pregnancy, and more research is needed in order to provide specific guidelines.

In the study, the researchers fed alcohol to female mice who were at a stage of pregnancy that is equivalent to three to four weeks of human pregnancy. They found that the mice pups exhibited symptoms similar to human fetal alcohol syndrome, including hyperactivity, decreased growth rate and structural changes to the face and skull.

The damage occurred because early exposure to alcohol created changes in the embryo’s epigenome — the set of chemical compounds that regulate the genome — which led to alterations in the expression of genes in the brains of the infant mice. These changes were observed in the hippocampus, a brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion that is known to be heavily affected by alcohol. Researchers also found changes in the bone marrow of the infant mice, and in some tissue within the mouse’s snout that plays a role in the sense of smell.

Because early pregnancy is a critical time for cell division and differentiation, the embryo is vulnerable to external influences at this stage, and any changes can become widespread because the cells are rapidly dividing.



Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

CDC Warns of Drug Resistant Bug

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning about a particularly nasty stomach bug that has made its way to the United States and has caused more than 200 people to become ill since last May. Many of those cases were traced back to people who had just returned from abroad, particularly from India or the Dominican Republic.

Although outbreaks of the shigella bug aren’t uncommon, what makes this bug worse than usual is that it is resistant to the antibiotics that are usually prescribed to deal with it.

In its report on the bug, the CDC says it has sickened at least 243 people in 23 states and Puerto Rico. Shigella is a common cause of diarrhea and antibiotics can be prescribed for more serious cases.

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Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Real Drug Stories

States Continue to Ban Powdered Alcohol

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Photo credit: Liberal America

Powdered alcohol seems to be moving in the opposite direction of marijuana these day, with a total of five states having banned the substance, according to the Alcohol Justice website and 25 more having introduced legislation to do so.

Among the states that have passed legislation to ban powdered and crystalline alcohol products, are: Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts has issued a regulatory decision that powdered alcohol is not legal in the state and the Pennsylvania liquor control board voted unanimously to keep powdered alcohol off of its product lists.

Among the reasons for the bans and potential bans are concerns that the powder can be easily accessed and hidden by youth and the packets are also similar to nonalcoholic children’s drink packets. People could also easily combine the packets, mix the powder with liquid alcohol, mix it with energy drinks, sneak it into venues where alcohol is not allowed and potentially snort it.

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Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Real Drug Stories

Mixing Medication and Dietary Supplements Can be Bad for Health

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Dietary supplements could alter the way medication works, regardless of whether it is prescription or over-the-counter medicine.take vitamins

“Some dietary supplements may increase the effect of your medication, and other dietary supplements may decrease it,” Robert Mozersky, a medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said.

Certain dietary supplements may change absorption, metabolism, or excretion of a medication and therefore affect its potency.

“You may be getting either too much or too little of a medication you need,” Mozersky warned.

Combining dietary supplements and medications could even have life-threatening effects. For example, drugs for HIV/AIDS, heart disease, depression, treatments for organ transplants, and birth control pills are less effective when taken with the herbal supplement St. John’s Wort. Depending on the medication involved, the results can be serious.

Also, warfarin (a prescription blood thinner), ginkgo biloba (an herbal supplement), aspirin and vitamin E can each thin the blood, so taking any of these products together may increase the potential for internal bleeding or stroke.

Dietary supplements are widely used and include vitamins, minerals, and other less familiar substances—such as herbals, botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes.

Addiction Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Children of Dads Who Smoked Pre-Conception More Likely to Have Asthma: Study

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Children are more likely to have asthma if their fathers smoked prior to conceiving them, a new German study has found. kid with asthma

The research looked at the smoking habits of 13,000 men and women who responded to survey questions, including whether they have smoked, when and for how long. They also indicated whether they stopped smoking before conceiving, according to a news release about the study, which found fathers who smoked prior to conception raised the chances of their unborn children having asthma. Fathers who had been smoking longer and fathers who began smoking before 15 were more likely to have babies born with asthma.

Mothers smoking prior to conception was not associated with increased asthma risk among the women in the survey.

It isn’t exactly clear how smoking before conception could cause asthma, but air pollution is certainly a factor, the authors said.

“This study is important as it is the first study looking at how a father’s smoking habit pre-conception can affect the respiratory health of his children,” said one of the study authors, Dr. Cecile Svanes, of the University of Bergen, Norway, in a statement. “Given these results, we can presume that exposure to any type of air pollution, from occupational exposures to chemical exposures, could also have an effect.”

Asthma is a condition that causes the airways to swell, leading to labored breathing and tightness around the lungs. At least 25 million Americans have asthma, and 7 million of them are children, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.


Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Health apps not only likely useless, could potentially harm you

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If you are using one of the thousands of health apps out there, including: calorie counters; blood-pressure testers; and even music-therapy apps, you are using an unregulated piece of software that could potentially harm you. health apps

An article in The New England Journal of Medicine says there are over 97,000 mobile health (mHealth) apps available and that because these apps aren’t effectively regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, many of them could be useless, if not harmful.

Medical companies like Pfizer and Sanofi Aventis have already had to send out warnings that their apps were giving wonky readings and some mHealth apps like Pocket Doctor promise to give medical diagnosis while simultaneously claiming to be just for entertainment purposes.

It’s not that mHealth apps are all useless, the article authors say, it’s just that most people aren’t savvy enough to know that many of them are questionable at best and shouldn’t be trusted to be accurate.

Currently, the FDA doesn’t get overly involved in the mHealth industry, except when there could be a clear danger to people when a health app is misused.

Unless an app is associated with a medical institution you know and trust, or unless you can find specific information backing up its claims and methods, it’s best to cast a wary eye at anything health-related that can be downloaded to your phone.

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Substance Abuse

New post gives parents much needed information on Spice

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Synthetic marijuana has been a scourge for years now and a recently published post gives parents the definitive information they need to know about this dangerous drug.Spice

The information contained in the article includes the effects of the drug, several statistics about its usage and tips about how parents can protect their children from abusing the drug.

The tips include:

  • Communicate with your teen.
  • Make your position clear.
  • Check in frequently.
  • Look for signs of use.
  • If necessary, seek help.

To read the full Parent’s Guide to Spice, click here.

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Study Shows 1 in 5 High School Seniors Have Tried Hookah

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About 18% of high school seniors, or one in five, have tried smoking tobacco through a hookah pipe, a new study has found.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Clare on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Ryan Clare on Flickr

The study, performed by New York University researchers, involved data from the Monitoring the Future nationwide study, which follows teens’ behaviors, values, and attitudes. Of the almost 15,000 kids aged 18 involved in the study, 5,540 were questioned about their hookah use between 2010 and 2012.

Researchers also found that “students of higher socioeconomic status appear to be more  likely to use hookah,” said Dr. Joseph Palamar, assistant professor of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center, in a press release. “Surprisingly, students with more educated parents or higher personal income are at high risk for use. We also found that hookah use is more common in cities, especially big cities. So hookah use is much different from cigarette use, which is more common in non-urban areas.”

Traditionally from the Middle East, hookah involves smoking flavored tobacco from a large water pipe. It’s become increasingly popular in North America and other parts of the world, in part, because it’s believed to be less harmful to the body — the tobacco is considered to be milder. However, that’s not entirely the case because hookah smokers tend to take more puffs in one session, resulting in similar, if not worse effects than smoking.

In New York City, hookahs have become popular, appearing in clubs, increasingly numerous hookah bars, and pretty much wherever someone with a hookah pipe wants to bring it. Among the general population, hookah use has increased by as much as 123%, co-author of the study Dr. Michael Weitzman said. But although they come with similar health risks — respiratory illness, herpes, heart disease, and some cancers — consistent use isn’t such an issue.

“Use tends to be much different from traditional cigarette smoking,” Palamar said in the release. “Right now it appears that a lot of hookah use is more ritualistic, used occasionally — for example, in hookah bars, and not everyone inhales.”

However, the researchers warned that people who begin using hookah may eventually turn to vape pens or e-cigarettes, which also sport a wide range of flavors while remaining mysterious in terms of health effects. Educating the public, and especially the youth, about how smoking hookah isn’t completely harmless may be the experts’ best bet.