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Curr Drug Targets. 2017 Apr 25. doi: 10.2174/1389450118666170425154120. [Epub ahead of print]

Kratom and Future Treatment for the Opioids Addiction and Chronic Pain: Periculo Beneficium?

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Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre - Psychiatry Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia.
Universiti Kebangsaan. Malaysia.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre - Anatomy. Malaysia.


Kratom (Mitragynaspeciosa), a natural existing plant found in South-East Asia, is tradi-tionally used as an herb to help to elevate a person's energy and also to treat numerous medical ailments. Other than the analgesic property, kratom has been used as an agent to overcome opioid withdrawal as it contains natural alkaloids, i.e. mitragynine, 7-hydroxymitragynine, and MGM-9, which has agonist affinity on the opioid receptors, including mu (μ) and kappa (κ). The role of neural reward pathway linked to μ-opioid receptors and both dopaminergic and GABA-ergic interneurons that express μ-opioid receptors were deliberated. However, kratom has been reported to be abused together with other illicit substances with high risk of potential addiction. There are also anecdotes of an adverse effect and toxicity of kratom, i.e. tremor, fatigue, seizure, and death. Different countries have distinctive regulation and policy on the plantation and use of this plant when most of the countries banned the use of it because of its addiction problems and side effects. The aim of this review is to highlight on the potential use of kratom, a unique 'herbs" as a substitution therapy for chronic pain and opioid addiction, based on the neurobiological perspective of pain and the underlying mechanism of actions of drug addiction.


7-hydroxymitragynine; Ketum; kratom; mitragyna speciose; mitragynine; opioid receptors.

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