Is Kratom an Opioid? What You Need To Know

Is Kratom an Opioid? The short answer: no.

Recently, Kratom has been in the news as several states pass regulations for Kratom. These events may spark questions about this natural product like “Is Kratom an opioid?” In this blog, we’re discussing all of the details of Kratom. Including what it is, what it’s used for, and what you need to know when it comes to Kratom and opioids.

Have Questions you’d rather talk about in person? Stop into any of our shops throughout Corpus Christi and one of our Nice Guys would be happy to talk you through any question you may have! 

What Is Kratom?

Before we dive in, let’s review what exactly Kratom is. Kratom, or Mitragyna Speciosa, is an evergreen tree related to the coffee tree. This tree is native to Southeast Asia and has been in use in the traditional medicine practices of the area for centuries. 

Traditionally, Kratom leaves were used to brew teas or ground into powders for traditional medicine practices. This practice was common for treating common ailments. Additionally, it was common for field laborers to pluck Kratom leaves straight from the tree to chew on. This helped them to stay alert throughout the day and keep aches and pains at bay. 

Kratom’s Effects

Kratom’s effects are the whole reason these leaves are sought-after throughout the world. Kratom can be sedative, stimulating, pain-relieving, and mood-boosting, to name a few benefits. Kratom’s effects are also the reason that some people believe Kratom to be an opioid. 

While Kratom does produce opioid-like effects, it is important to distinguish that Kratom is not an opioid. 

What Is an Opioid?

To answer the question Is Kratom an Opioid, first we’ll need to establish what an opiate is. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.”

Opiates work by binding to the opiate receptors located in your brain. However, there isn’t just one opioid receptor in the human brain. There are actually several different types of opiate receptors, and each opioid interacts with each of these differently. 

Opioid Effects

Opiate effects will vary by type. Prescription opiates can cause relaxation and euphoria, while also possibly causing drowsiness, nausea, confusion, and slowed breathing. Non-prescription opiates can have intensely heightened effects. 

Regardless of whether the opioid is prescription or not, one of the possible side effects of opioid use is death. America is in the midst of what is being called the “opioid epidemic.” Opioid overdose deaths have been on the rise for years now, in both prescription and non-prescription opiates. 


Is Kratom an Opioid?

Like we said above, Kratom is not an opioid. However, Kratom an opiates do share many similarities. There is one difference that is critical, though. 

Kratom Is Like an Opiate

Kratom is like an opiate because of how it functions in your body. Kratom actually interacts with your brain’s opioid receptors. It is for this reason that Kratom is so effective at fighting pain (and also aiding in relief from opiate withdrawal symptoms). 

However, the alkaloids in Kratom do not fully work on opiate receptors as opioids do; Kratom is only a partial agonist of these receptor sites. So Kratom works sort of like an opiate, but not fully. This means that the effects of Kratom VS the effects of opioids are going to be different. 

When taking opiates, you can expect intense pain relief and euphoria. These are the highly addictive attributes of opioid use. Alternatively, when taking Kratom, you can expect pain relief (and sometimes euphoria), just in smaller doses. 

The Deadly Difference

So we have established what Kratom is and what an opioid is. We have also established that Kratom is not an opiate. However, we haven’t gone over the most important difference between Kratom and opioids. 

The biggest difference between Kratom and opiates is the death rate. Remember the opioid epidemic we mentioned earlier? Opiates are extremely addictive, and the death rates seem to be continually climbing in America. 

Opiates kill you by respiratory depression, and, ultimately, respiratory failure. Respiratory failure happens when the capillaries, or tiny blood vessels surrounding your air sacs, cannot properly exchange carbon dioxide and/or oxygen. Basically, opiates can slow down your breathing, and as a result, your body cannot remove carbon dioxide as it should. This can lead to a buildup of carbon dioxide, and not enough oxygen. 

On a cellular level, respiratory depression from Opioid use is caused during an interaction with opioid receptors that recruits a protein called β-arrestin-2. While Kratom does bind to the same receptor sites as opiates, Kratom does not recruit β-arrestin-2 as opiates do.

Research is still emerging on the exact science behind Kratom and β-arrestin-2. Some of the research has posed that Kratom alkaloids do not recruit the protein whatsoever. Other studies show that Kratom simply has a “ceiling” for respiratory depression that accounts for its favorable safety profile. Either way, the science is clear that Kratom is a much safer alternative to opioids, prescription or not.

Is Kratom an Opioid — A Final Word

We hope we’ve answered your question of Is Kratom an Opioid? with a very clear “No!” 

While the research is still ongoing with Kratom, the science shows that it is a clearly safer alternative to dangerous prescription (or not) opioids. The numbers of the opioid epidemic are shocking, and still on the rise. If you or someone you know is in need of pain relief and is considering opiate use, consider Kratom as an all-natural, safer alternative. 

If we haven’t answered all of your questions about Kratom, please don’t hesitate to contact us! By phone, email, or in person, we’re here to help!


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