These days many people with any form of chronic arthritis pain are turning to alternative treatment options. This trend is because these are considered less addictive than traditional psycho-actives. These psycho-actives are known to cause intoxication along with an addictive high.
Kratom is one such substance. It is derived from processed Kratom leaves, which are native to Southeast Asia. Kratom’s stimulant effects, even at low doses, are significant. At higher doses, its function is like traditional pharmaceuticals. The mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine present in kratom leaves are active alkaloids. These active alkaloids interact with the opioid receptors of the human brain. This interaction produces feelings of pleasure. It is also known to relieve pain and numb sensation.
Kratom, unlike traditional substances, is legal to use in many countries. Because of its ease of availability, many people tend to use it as a form of self-medication.
Since natural alternatives are considered less addictive by many users. They consider CBD and Kratom like natural remedies a safer option. In August of 2019, a Gallup poll found that up to 14% of Americans already used such products, and the primary underlying reason for usage was pain relief.
With the recent legalization of such products, it’s hard to miss the advertising frenzy promoting alternative actives as a cure-all for every illness under the sun. What is the research backing these claims? Currently, it is not that extensive. Some scientific studies lend some legitimacy to these claims. Let’s dig a little deeper to find out.
An Overview Of Arthritis Pain
Arthritis and its accompanying pain can be debilitating in severe cases and at the very least, it can be a distressing distraction that prevents sufferers from living their lives to the fullest. There are numerous types of Arthritis, with the most common being Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is typically regarded as a common side effect of aging. However, in some instances, early-onset is a possibility. Today with the prevalence of calcium leaching carbonated beverages, Osteopenia, the precursor to Osteoarthritis, is common even in the relatively young and the age of onset is fast decreasing. Since Osteoarthritis is a natural side effect of age, it is the most common type of arthritis. It is caused by wear and tears in the cartilage tissue over time. This wear and tear can be further exacerbated by external factors like injury, sedentary lifestyles, malnutrition, or a diet low in essential macro-nutrients. An individual’s genetic tendencies also contribute to this. During the early stages, the joints tend to be mildly stiff or tender, but they further deteriorate and pain is inevitable with time.
You can’t wholly cure Osteoarthritis, but treatment can help you slow its progression. Its symptomatic pain and mobility issues can also be treated through many different therapy types, e.g., using icepacks, physiotherapy, and pain management through traditional analgesics.
Prolonged usage of traditional pharmaceutical analgesics has been known to have adverse effects in the long term, ranging from addiction to other chronic health complications.
Kratom is an entirely organic compound with an analgesic effect and it is thought to be non-addictive. These days it is also gaining popularity as a viable treatment option for those suffering from chronic pain.
What’s The Evidence That Kratom Is Effective For Chronic Arthritis Pain?
In recent years legal and social prejudices to naturally occurring alternatives to psycho-actives have loosened. Kratom has been used in Thailand and Southeast Asia for the past 150 years but since the 1980s, its use has also become widespread in the USA.
Given its inherent analgesic properties, this has also led to a parallel rise in its use as a form of alternative therapy. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting its efficacy in treating chronically painful diseases like MS, Fibromyalgia, and Arthritis.
However, the clinical evidence supporting this use through controlled clinical trials is not yet widely available. Many individuals with chronically painful medical conditions prefer to avail alternative treatment options in the long term.
Mainstream medical practitioners must adopt a more holistic approach to treatment. This will improve upon existing modes of treatment. It will also help avoid toxic interactions with prescription pharmaceuticals.
In a online survey in 2019 (Jack E.Henningfield), the effects, the use, and prevalence of Kratom as a substitute for substances were monitored and measured to get a better idea of how and why people use it. The results show that a statistically significant majority of people (48%) used Kratom for its pain-relieving properties. In comparison, 22% used it to de-stress and treat anxiety disorders like PTSD and depression. While 10% used it as an energy enhancer or mood booster. Up to 10% of users sought to cope with withdrawal symptoms or to reduce previous drug dependencies.
From the above statistics, it is clear that Kratom is used primarily to relieve pain. The incidence of adverse reactions was surprisingly low at only 13%, and most of these reactions were fairly mild.
This study suggests that Kratom is a viable alternative for the management of chronically painful medical conditions like arthritis.
Kratom Use For Pain Management In Arthritis
As many as 54 million adults and approximately 300,000 children are diagnosed with arthritis annually in the US alone. Keeping these figures in mind and making allowances for those undiagnosed cases, it is easy to imagine the depth and prevalence of this problem on a global scale. Individuals coping with this disease struggle with chronic, often debilitating pain and find it hard to manage day-to-day activities. The symptoms are often suppressed by using heavy pharmaceutical substances, which can then cause further side effects down the road, which are eventually detrimental to the quality of life in the long term.
Since Kratom also has opioid-like pain-relieving effects while being a safer, non-addictive option. It’s an excellent alternative for those with this illness. With arthritis, people suffer both physically and mentally. The joints’ stiffness and degeneration cause physical pain, which has mental implications in the long term, like anxiety and depression.
Patients with comorbidities like hypertension, cardiac issues, and diabetes are also at high risk for potentially fatal side effects when taking traditional high potency pharmaceutical medicines over a prolonged period.
Taking all the above factors into account, an all-natural, holistic alternative that provides scientifically documented pain relief without any adverse side effects is a blessing.
The alkaloid receptors in Kratom function in much the same way as substances by binding with the receptors in the brain. However, unlike substances, Kratom users reported no intoxication or long-term dependency.
Users also reported a high level of pain relief following use. Given its analgesic properties, the following outcomes are possible when using Kratom for treating arthritis:
- Reduced Inflammation
- Increased energy and vigor
- Reduced Pain and stiffness and increased flexibility
- Reduced ingestion of traditional pharmaceuticals
- Negligible side effects posts ingestion
- Kratom can also be used to manage withdrawal
Using Kratom — Dosage And Consumption
Kratom is consumed primarily as a liquid in the US, although its use as a powder and in capsules is now growing. Its use as an injectable is widely discouraged due to parallels with drug dependency patterns seen in other psychotropic substances.
In terms of pain management, the method of consumption varies. Users can avail themselves of a variety of options such as powders, liquids, and capsules. Another popular option for use in arthritis pain is a topical application in cream or tincture.
Kratom powder and leaves can both be used to boil and brew a relaxing tea. It is an easy and accessible option. You can also use the powder in energy drinks or milkshakes. Or if there is no sensitivity to taste or texture on their own with water. Those who suffer from a gag reflex favor this option as they find swallowing difficult. Users who do not like the taste may prefer gel capsules. Using Kratom tinctures or extract as a topical therapeutic is also an alternative to its ingestible forms. The topical application of Kratom tinctures or topical creams to the painful area has minimal side effects, although its effectiveness is not well documented.
Users of Kratom have reported mainly an increase in energy levels, a decrease in pain, an increased ability to focus, a lower incidence of depressive episodes, and reduced anxiety as beneficial aftereffects of Kratom consumption. If you plan to take Kratom as an analgesic, it is recommended that you first seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner.
Those who have an intense level of pain may need relatively higher doses than those whose pain is less severe. As a rule of thumb, users must build up a tolerance by starting from a small quantity and working up to the minimal effective dose.
Based on trial and error, a rough approximation of an effective dose would be between 2-7gm. Getting the amount precisely right can be tricky. It is dependent on various other factors like the general health of the user, their age, the extent of their illness, and the purity of the product used.
Starting at 2gm and working up to the minimum effective dose is a recommended tactic. It is important to note that some strains of Kratom may be denser. Denser strains carry a higher concentration of active alkaloids or merely a higher moisture content. This is why the dosage for each strain varies.
Users are advised to look for trustworthy, reliable vendors to avoid contaminated or unsafe products.
Some research is crucial before deciding on a reliable supplier for all your Kratom products. It is necessary to keep in mind that the right supplier will have a public track record of positive reviews and exercise complete transparency about their production methods and processes.
Are There Downsides To Kratom?
Like any other substance which affects the body, Kratom is not risk-free. Overdose can cause many side effects. These include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, vertigo, chills, sedation, weight loss, to reduced intestinal function.
Studies suggest that detrimental effects appear to be related solely to the dosage. Low doses of Kratom 0.5 gram or below, even when taken up to 3 times a day, do not produce any significant adverse side effects while providing relief. Doses higher than 8gm have a slightly higher ratio of adverse side effects like withdrawal symptoms, dizziness, and sleepiness.
Moreover, the benefits have also been widely demonstrated and documented. Not to mention, patients were statistically less likely to develop long-term dependency and addictive behaviors if they used Kratom in small doses and increased said dosage in increments till they arrived at a threshold of minimal efficacy.
However, in another study, it was found that the elderly are MORE likely to develop fractures in the long term while using Kratom instead of NSAIDs or traditional pharmaceuticals.
Kratom cannot be used in tandem with certain illegal substances. The literature suggests that using Kratom in combination with other psycho actives can be potentially fatal.
It is always better to consult a holistic naturopath or health professional before starting any new medicine, alternative or otherwise. Furthermore, when seeking alternative treatment, it is still better to adopt a less is more approach outlined in the dosage section above.
Best Strains To Get Started
Three main strains are named for the leaves they are derived from. The concentration of alkaloids varies from strain to strain. This is thought to be why each strain has such varying effects.
Red vein Kratom is commonly used as an analgesic, as it is known for its relatively fast-acting effect and its relaxing, pain-relieving properties. For users with intense pain, Red Maeng da is recommended. Red Maeng da has very few adverse side effects and provides fast pain relief.
Red Horn Kratom and Red Bali Kratom are also popularly used for pain relief amongst this strain. Green vein strains, like green Maeng da, are suitable for mild to moderate pain levels, while white vein Kratom strains are generally used to increase wakefulness and focus. But if green Maeng da is mixed with white Maeng da, this blend is much more effective in curbing pain and providing relief. Borneo white kratom is an Indonesian strain used for pain relief in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Keeping the previous sections in mind, it is not possible to discount the importance of Kratom when used responsibly in the treatment of chronic arthritis pain. This is evident from documented studies.
But users must be careful while using Kratom in the long term as there have also been some adverse long-term effects, as detailed above.
Additionally, care is essential when sourcing any product for personal use. Users should seek out responsible vendors and carefully calibrate and administer doses, starting from the smallest quantity and stopping at the minimum adequate amount.