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 some 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. Also, kratom can have different therapeutic effects based upon whether the leaves are fresh or dried.  Finally, research on the way alkaloids are metabolized in the human body is in its infancy and most use lab mice, at least initially.  So, opinions on the safety and efficacy of Kratom may change rapidly! Therefore, always check with your healthcare provider before considering its addition to your own 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. Currently, the risks of kratom are not fully understood, and some research has shown that they depend upon unrealistically high doses.   Additionally, there is evidence that some of these symptoms can be attributed to other drugs that are often taken with kratom.  Here is a list of some risks that are currently being studied:

  • addiction;
  • psychiatric problems;
  • withdrawal;
  • liver damage and toxicity;
  • drug interactions;
  • agitation and irritability;
  • tachycardia (irregular heartbeat);
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • drowsiness;
  • confusion; and
  • hypertension.

More serious risks include:

  • cyanosis (bluish skin due to lack of oxygen);
  • respiratory depression and arrest;
  • renal failure;
  • cardiac arrest; and
  • coma.

In Conclusion

In short, there is no clinical research proving the safety and efficacy of kratom for treating lupus.  There are many anecdotal reports of some with lupus finding relief for some symptoms, but kratom comes in many forms and dosages have not been standardized to date.  This may change soon, yet kratom is still controversial and many clinicians agree that much more research needs to be done on humans before kratom is considered safe and effective. At the very least, its use may influence the effects of other lupus medications.  This means that it is 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.

Oberbarnscheidt, T. & Miller, N. (2019). Kratom – a lethal drug on the rise. Journal of Addiction & Prevention, 7(1).

Prevete, E., Kuypers, K. P. C., Theunissen, E. L., Esposito, G., Ramaekers, J. G., Pasquini, M., & Corazza, O. (2023). Clinical Implications of Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) Use: a Literature Review. Current addiction reports, 10(2), 317–334.

Talesnik, D. (2022, June 24). ‘Complex symphony orchestra’ McCurdy studies whether kratom can reduce opioid withdrawal, ease pain. NIH Record, 74(13).

Veltri, C. & Grundmann, O. (2019). Current perspectives on the impact of kratom use. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 10, 23-31.



Author: Liz Heintz  (KFL Team updated 2024)

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.

All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of and were created by Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus. To use one of these images, please contact us at [email protected] for written permission; image credit and link-back must be given to Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus.

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.

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