Lupus and Kratom
Using kratom to treat many health conditions, including lupus and its overlap diseases, is highly controversial. What is kratom and is it worth the risk?
- Introduction to Lupus and Kratom
- How can kratom treat lupus?
- What are the risks of kratom use?
- In Conclusion
Introduction to Lupus and Kratom
Kratom may sound like something from the pages of a superhero comic book, but it is actually a plant-based substance that has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy in Southeast Asia. Kratom comes from leaves of the Mitragyne speciosia tree, a tropical evergreen tree of the coffee family, which contain nitrogenous alkaloids that produce physiological effects in humans. Notably, morphine, quinine and kava are other examples of alkaloids found in plants, as is the poison strychnine.
In Asian countries, kratom treats everything from intestinal infections to coughs. Chewing or smoking the bitter-tasting leaves have a stimulating effect, while kratom tea and powder act as sedatives. In addition, kratom is sometimes used to treat chronic pain in conditions like SLE, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis. In Western countries, kratom is primarily used as a sedative and to mitigate withdrawal from opioids.
While kratom may provide some benefits for those with lupus, there is no significant proof nor are there any definitive clinical studies on kratom and lupus. There is also no quality control on kratom sold in the West. Therefore, while kratom may seem alluring and have appeal for those with lupus, its use comes with significant risks that should be considered and discussed before adding to any treatment plan.
Note: The FDA has not approved the use of kratom as a treatment, and it has been either banned or restricted in several countries and some states in the US. Always check with your local jurisdiction and consult your healthcare team about any changes to your lupus treatment!
How can kratom treat lupus?
Researchers have found that kratom can be effective at treating many health issues, including some of the most common symptoms of lupus
Some patients with lupus have even reported the easing of symptoms of pain and depression. However, while some studies have shown promise, kratom research is mainly limited to mice, making it hard to determine what treatment and outcomes may look like for humans. As a result, scientists urge extreme caution when considering kratom use.
What are the risks of kratom use?
If kratom is natural, it should be safe, right? Remember that natural does not always mean harmless. For example, poppies are lovely plants, yet they produce the opium needed for heroin. While the dangers of kratom are not fully understood, it comes with significant risks:
- psychiatric problems;
- liver damage and toxicity;
- drug interactions;
- agitation and irritability;
- tachycardia (irregular heartbeat);
- nausea and vomiting;
- confusion; and
More serious risks include:
- cyanosis (bluish skin due to lack of oxygen);
- respiratory depression and arrest;
- renal failure;
- cardiac arrest; and
In short, there is no clinical research proving the safety and efficacy of kratom for treating lupus. There are reports of some with lupus finding relief for some symptoms, but kratom is controversial and, at this point, why it just may not be worth the risk. Scientists agree that much more research needs to be done on humans before kratom is considered safe, making it imperative to speak with a healthcare practitioner before embarking on kratom as an alternative therapy to manage lupus.
Aldyab, M., Ells, P., Bui, R., Chapman, T., & Lee, H. (2019). Kratom-induced cholestatic liver injury mimicking anti-mitochondrial antibody-negative primary biliary cholangitis: a case report and review of literature. Gastroenterology Research, 12(4), 211-215. https://dx.doi.org/10.14740%2Fgr1204
Oberbarnscheidt, T. & Miller, N. (2019). Kratom – a lethal drug on the rise. Journal of Addiction & Prevention, 7(1). https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Thersilla-Oberbarnscheidt/publication/332274703_6_2_Professor_of_Psychiatry_Augusta_University_current_president_of_Health_Advocates_PLLC/links/5cab4ba0299bf118c4bad200/6-2-Professor-of-Psychiatry-Augusta-University-current-president-of-Health-Advocates-PLLC.pdf
Veltri, C. & Grundmann, O. (2019). Current perspectives on the impact of kratom use. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 10, 23-31. https://dx.doi.org/10.2147%2FSAR.S164261
Author: Liz Heintz
Liz Heintz is a technical and creative writer who received her BA in Communications, Advocacy, and Relational Communications from Marylhurst University in Lake Oswego, Oregon. She most recently worked for several years in the healthcare industry. A native of San Francisco, California, Liz now calls the beautiful Pacific Northwest home.
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All resources provided by us are for informational purposes only and should be used as a guide or supplemental information, not to replace the advice of a medical professional. The personal views expressed here do not necessarily encompass the views of the organization, but the information has been vetted as a relevant resource. We encourage you to be your strongest advocate and always contact your healthcare practitioner with any specific questions or concerns.