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Substance Abuse

Kratom Alternatives for Pain Management

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kratom alternatives

The status of the proposed kratom ban remains unchanged as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has temporarily put on hold the banning of the said substance until the Food and Drug Administration is finally done with further testing of kratom to exactly determine its effect. As a result, some people turn to kratom alternatives to address their pain.

In this article, we will discuss some common kratom alternatives, what they can do, and if they are legal.

Status of Kratom in the U.S.

When DEA sought the help of the public by sharing their thoughts about banning kratom, 99 percent of the respondents opposed to the idea. Their primary reason was simple: kratom has helped manage their chronic pain without having to use pain medication. Users claim that kratom produces milder side effects compared to other opioid analgesics.

Amidst the debate between kratom users who continue to promote positive claims about the substance and government agencies who are unsure of its safety, kratom remains legal. However, once DEA decides on banning the kratom, it will be categorized as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Among the drugs under this category are heroin, cocaine and ecstasy, all of which have been proven to have no medical benefits and have a high potential for abuse.

The government is burdened enough with so many cases of drug addiction, and so completely eradicating the issue may not be an easy task. Despite this, precautionary measures are being taken to ensure the safety of everyone. This is the reason why kratom, which has opioid-like properties, is being monitored by world governments as the emerging drug to join the list of commonly abused substances.

Benefits of Kratom Use

Kratom, a tree that is common in Southeast Asia, may be associated with the plant family of coffee. Kratom leaves are crushed in order to extract its opioid properties.

The analgesic property of kratom is helpful in the following cases:

  • Management of chronic pain
  • Treatment of anxiety or depression
  • Energy booster
  • Management of symptoms from opiate withdrawal

A low dose of kratom can become a stimulant to make a person feel happy, strong and alert. On the other hand, if given in high doses, the user may feel lethargic. This may be helpful in treating insomnia.

Normally, a patient is given massive doses of opioid analgesics to relieve pain, but this can cost a lot of money. Worse, long-term use of opioid medication may lead to addiction, dependence, and tolerance.

Some cases of addiction start with legal use of prescription drugs. The effect of prolonged use may turn into physical and psychological dependence, which in turn is another situation that needs to be addressed. Advocates claim that kratom is a good alternative to otherwise addictive opioid drugs.

Kratom is used both for therapeutic and recreational purposes. As therapeutic aid, it is reported to provide an analgesic effect, thereby inducing euphoric effect that may lead to less inhibitions. Kratom can also act as a CNS stimulant.

Kratom is also gaining popularity as a legal mind-altering substance throughout Europe and the United States.

kratom leaf

How Kratom is Consumed

Fresh kratom leaves can be chewed, although veins must be removed first. Dry kratom leaves can also be crushed to produce a powder which can be mixed with food or beverages.

Kratom has a bitter taste, and so some individuals add sugar or honey to mask out its unfavorable taste.  It can also be smoked by rolling the leaves.

A pure form of kratom can be achieved by completely evaporating the water from kratom leaves. This pure extract may be swallowed or dissolved in water. This form is more expensive than plain leaves.

Effects of Kratom Use

It may no longer be a surprise if kratom takes the place of traditional opioids prescribed to patients suffering from chronic pain, especially for the following conditions:

  • Scoliosis
  • Arthritis
  • Chest pain
  • Migraine
  • Broken bones
  • Damaged muscles

Best Kratom Alternatives

Considering the legal seesaw surrounding kratom, people should be aware that the effect of this substance is still questionable. In line with efforts to provide the best care possible with regards to pain management, the general public needs to know other ways on how to control pain using already existing and much safer substances.

Here are some of the common kratom alternatives that are either safer or more recommended by medical practitioners:

L-Theanine

The first on the list of kratom alternatives is a natural component of teas from Camelia sinensis. This substance is said to promote relaxation without sedation, making it effective in relieving stress. Its effect is noticeable 30 minutes after ingestion.

It is said to improve mood and concentration and can help decrease anxiety and stress. Apart from this, it is also helpful in reducing muscle fatigue and pain.

Marijuana

For so many years, the question on the status of marijuana has finally been put to an end. Most states in the U.S. have already come up with their own marijuana laws involving the use, manufacture and trade of the substance. However, its use, possession, sale, cultivation and transportation remain to be illegal under U.S. federal law.

By following each of the state’s conditions with regards to the usage of cannabis, the use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes remains as an option for managing chronic pain, most especially for people diagnosed with cancer.

The effect of marijuana upon ingestion may be evident in as little as 5 minutes. Imagine how a person suffering from Parkinson’s disease would be relieved from uncontrollable tremors. Upon ingestion of a single dose, the patient’s whole body relaxes a few minutes after, and there seems to be no trace of trembling, not even on one hand.

Kava

Kava is a root found in the South Pacific Island that is used for both medicinal and religious purposes.

Kava produces a calming effect by introducing changes in the brain similar to the effect of medication like diazepam. It is also good as an alternative in the prevention of convulsions and can be used as a muscle relaxant. It is considered to be a non-addictive substance, and using the substance is considered to be a lot safer than using opioid-like substances.

Kava roots are traditionally prepared as tea and are also available as dietary supplements that come in either tincture or powder form.

The use of kava roots relieves the following conditions:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Spasm
  • Muscle tension
  • Pain

It can also be helpful in treating people suffering from insomnia to promote deep sleep. However, special precautions should be noted when taking kava roots:

  • Alcohol should not be consumed together with kava.
  • Since it has a sedating effect, driving or using heavy machinery may compromise thinking or decision-making.
  • It can affect the color of the skin and nails.
  • It can cause some allergic reactions.

Long term use of kava may lead to liver problems, facial swelling, shortness of breath and scaly rashes.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm comes from the mint family. Its leaves are used for medicinal purposes either alone or in combination with other herbs.

It is also useful in treating digestive disorders like flatulence, vomiting, stomach bloating and upset stomach. It can also help control pain such as headache, toothache and menstrual cramps and can also be effective in treating hysteria.

Others have used lemon balm to help with their sleep problems, and it is found to be helpful to treat anxiety as well. Lemon balm is also reported to be effective for the treatment of Alzheimer’s diseases and ADHD. It is also found to reduce the growth of certain viruses.

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort comes from a plant called Hypericum perforatum. It has been used as treatment for depression. It comes in tablet or capsule form but may also be sold in tea bags and tinctures.

There is solid scientific evidence to back up the efficacy of using St. John’s Wort to treat the following conditions:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Depression
  • Nerve pain
  • OCD
  • Post-operative pain
  • Somatoform disorders

There is, however, a small percentage among St. John’s Wort users who experience unfavorable symptoms like:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sedation
  • Stomach upset
  • Fatigue
  • Sexual dysfunction

The effectiveness of St. John’s Wort may be reduced when taken with the following:

  • Oral contraceptives
  • Theophylline
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Digoxin
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Some anti-HIV drugs

Phenibut

The chemical found in phenibut is similar to the brain chemical GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid.

Phenibut is used for the treatment of sleeping disorders, stress, anxiety, fatigue, fear, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, irregular heartbeat and alcoholism. It is also useful in improving memory and thinking.

It provides mild to moderate sedation and stimulation, which allows an individual to be relaxed and focused at the same time. With that being said, it decreases inhibition, lowers stress without impairing judgment or decision-making capabilities, and provides pain relief.

The over-all effect of phenibut may be similar to a small dose of MDMA. However, despite providing that “good feel” effect that can be effective to treat anxiety and depression, phenibut may produce side effects that are easily surpassed by its health benefits. Therefore, there should be no cause for alarm when using this substance.

The effect of phenibut can be felt 15 to 20 minutes after ingestion.

Salvia Divinorum

Some people consider salvia divinorum as a good kratom alternative. However, this substance produces an analgesic effect but is not as potent as kratom. In fact, this may not be considered as a true alternative to kratom because of its lower efficacy.

One of the downfalls of using salvia divinorum is its hallucinogenic properties, which makes it prone to abuse.

Final Word

A lot of people have learned to love kratom, as they see it as the miracle cure to end pain. However, as the FDA has not submitted its recommendation with regards to its safety, users should find legal kratom alternatives to help manage their physical conditions.

The kratom alternatives mentioned above may be of help to a certain extent. Like any other substance, taking the right amount or dose necessary to relieve pain should be exercised, rather than become irresponsible in taking huge amounts of pain meds. Bottom line, don’t exchange pain relief with drug addiction or dependence by abusing these kratom alternatives.