Depression is a serious problem many people battle. According to statistics, more than 16 million adults in the United States experience at least one major depressive episode each year. Depressive episodes can last for hours, days, months, or even years.
Many people seek treatment for depression through a variety of avenues. For instance, some people see a therapist while others use natural herbs like St. John’s Wort. Sometimes these therapies aren’t enough and people seek non-traditional treatments. One of those less common treatments people use is a botanical called kratom.
What is kratom?
Kratom is a natural botanical that comes from the leaves of the Mitragyna Speciosa tree. As part of the coffee family, this tree grows in parts of Southeast Asia. This special tree is indigenous to Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Thailand. It’s also found in tropical parts of Africa.
The leaves are dried and then crushed into powder to make tea, smoked like tobacco, or taken directly as a supplement. If you’re wondering where to find this natural botanical in the U.S., you can get kratom here in a variety of strains in powder or capsule form.
Indigenous peoples have used kratom medicinally for centuries to obtain the following benefits:
- Overall pain relief
- Musculoskeletal pain relief
- Increased libido
- Increased energy
- Mental clarity and focus
- Elevated mood
In Western societies, people also use kratom to overcome opioid addiction and depression.
Some studies have shown that kratom lessens the withdrawal that comes from morphine and ethanol. Many have credited kratom to helping them through an opioid addiction.
As for treating depression, kratom has been proven to lower corticosterone levels in mice. Depression is associated with high corticosterone levels. While these studies need to be observed in humans to know more, many people credit kratom for helping them overcome depression.
How can kratom help beat depression?
When kratom is taken in small amounts, the alkaloids bind to the body’s delta narcotic receptors, which elevates mood and acts as a stimulant. In larger amounts, kratom binds to the mu narcotic receptors and acts as a sedative while providing a feeling of elation.
In any amount, kratom stimulates the body to release dopamine and serotonin – two of the neurotransmitters responsible for feeling good.
People feel depression for a variety of reasons, including:
- Chronic pain
- Nervous system issues
- Limbic system issues
- Hypersensitivity to sensory input
Since kratom can help a person feel good physically and emotionally, often by eliminating chronic pain, the natural response is to feel good. This is only accelerated by the release of dopamine and serotonin.
Precautions before starting kratom
Like any substance – natural or synthetic – it’s important to recognize and respect safe limits and not go overboard. Western societies tend to promote indulgence whereas other cultures approach even the most natural botanicals sparingly.
This is important to keep in mind when trying kratom. Kratom is a botanical with significant potential, but needs to be respected as a powerful medicine rather than a casual, recreational experience.
Kratom is generally safer than prescription opioids
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins, while kratom has opioid-like effects, it’s not as harmful as prescription opioids when used to treat pain, anxiety, depression, and addiction. In fact, a study performed in Thailand showed people in Asia have been successfully treating opioid addiction with kratom for decades.
Always use your best judgment
There will always be pros and cons to using any type of remedy for depression. Each person is different. It’s important to listen to your body to know if something is right for you. Anytime you decide to try something new, do your research to understand it fully before diving in.
Although thousands of people take kratom without issue, it has not been approved by the FDA as a treatment for any kind of disease. If you’re going to try it, consult your doctor first to make sure you don’t have any contraindicated health conditions. When you do try kratom, start with small doses and pay attention to how you feel.
If you get cleared by your doctor and approach kratom with a “less is more” attitude, you’ll be more likely to experience the therapeutic benefits rather than the negative side effects.
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