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Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2019 Jul 1;10:23-31. doi: 10.2147/SAR.S164261. eCollection 2019.

Current perspectives on the impact of Kratom use.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Midwestern University, Glendale, AZ 85308, USA.
2
Department of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA.

Abstract

The leaves from the tree Mitragyna speciosa, commonly known as Kratom, in the coffee plant family (Rubiaceae) are commonly used in their native habitat of Southeast Asia as a stimulant to sustain energy during hard day labor and as an opioid-like analgesic and sedative. Traditional and modern uses overlap based on the effects of the leaf extract which has also gained popularity in the United States and Europe in the last two decades. Kratom has and is being used for the mitigation of opioid withdrawal symptoms and as a harm reduction agent with a minority of users subsequently developing a dependence on the extract. The respective demographic use patterns of Kratom differ between Southeast Asia and the Western world. While pure Kratom is primarily used by day laborers and misused in conjunction with cough medicine by youth in Southeast Asia, a majority of users in the United States is middle-aged, has at least middle income, private health insurance, and completed some college. Deaths attributed to the use of Kratom have been reported in Europe and the United States but not in Southeast Asia. Although Kratom was detected as the alkaloid mitragynine in the blood of the decedents, causality could not be established in almost all cases because of poly-drug exposures. It is notable that Kratom can cause herb-drug interactions, especially with other central nervous system -active substances. Given the mostly unregulated market for Kratom products in Western countries, consumers may be exposed to adulterated or contaminated products, especially if purchased through websites or the darknet. A number of countries have scheduled Kratom because of its stimulant- and opioid-like effects and the established interaction of the alkaloid mitragynine with opioid receptors.

KEYWORDS:

Kratom; Mitragyna speciosa; Southeast Asia; substance dependence; use pattern

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