Saul Marcus, ND - Naturopathic Doctor

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Kratom uses and dangers

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is an herb from southeast Asia with a long history of being used for pain. The past few years it has gained notoriety as a substitute for opioids.

Image of Kratom leaf

Safety concerns and proper use of Kratom

While it is true that most medicinal herbs are relatively safe compared to drugs, herbs are complex medicinals that should not assumed to be safe just because it's natural.

With most medicinal herbs form Europe and North America we have knowledge to draw on from hundreds (if not thousands) of years. This allows us to understand the safety of such herbs, and how best to use them medicinally.

From an herbalist perspective, this information is invaluable. For example agrimony isn't simply an herb that can used for PMS, it's for people with tension who hide their stress. Lady's Mantle is another Western herb that may be used in similar cases, but has a specific indication "prominent blue veins" and also may seen anxiety and insomnia. both of these herbs may be used in similar cases, but have specific descriptions based on hundreds of years of observation. As as herbalist this means the right herb can be selected for the right person (as supposed to simply giving every woman the same thing for PMS).

Kratom has not been historically used in Western herbalism (nor Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine as I can find in my research). When people me about herbs from other parts of the world I often just have to say I do not know as it's not in my herbal medicine books so what we are left to go by is information from the Internet. Typically I dismiss such herbs because I'd rather go with herbs which I am familiar with and have a long track record, rather than something being promoted over the Internet with claims I am unable to verify.

Kratom is different for two reasons:

The information available about using Kratom is very general. Small amounts are stimulating. Larger doses can help with pain and sleep. Specific indications and actions beyond that are not very much known. There are some various strains which are supposed to vary in terms of opioid like and pain killing effect.

What I can say from cases I have seen personally is it may have a very strong pain killing effect, and help with insomnia as well. I have recommended it to clients (in select cases when I felt it could be far more useful than other herbs) with some good results.

As far as detailed information on safety and purported dangers I will refer readers to the following website:

For more information about Kratom go to the American Kratom Association

The following article from Huffington Post may also be enlightening about alleged dangers of Kratom:

FDA Releases Kratom Death Data, Undermines Its Own Claims About Drug's Deadly Harms