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The herbal supplement kratom may be less addictive and more effective for the management of pain than opioids, according to new research from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.1 In a cross-sectional, self-report survey of 2798 participants, kratom was generally found to be highly effective, with 91% people taking it for pain, 67% for anxiety, and 65% for depression. Others take kratom to reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal.
Lead author Albert Garcia-Romeu, PhD, cautions more research is needed before endorsement of kratom, but a total ban with little data is not warranted: “There is a high likelihood that banning kratom or its constituents would compel individuals who are presently using kratom for pain relief or opioid use reduction to return to using prescription or illicit opioids with a known risk of dependence and possible lethal overdose.”
Kratom is used among White, middle-aged Americans for symptoms of pain, anxiety, depression, and opioid withdrawal. Although regular use was typical, kratom-related SUD and serious adverse effects were uncommon. Additional research on kratom epidemiology and pharmacology is imperative in light of the present opioid epidemic.
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