Kratom may sound like something out of a comic book, but this natural plant has been touted as a solution for depression, anxiety, and pain. What is kratom, what are its benefits and can it really help with depression?
Kratom is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia. Its leaves contain certain compounds that produce psychotropic effects. Kratom is still legal in the U.S., although the DEA is trying to change that, and it can go by many names, including:
Most of kratom’s purported health benefits come from its leaves, which contain a range of alkaloids and other organic substances. The alkaloid mitragynine is primarily responsible for the plant’s opioid-like effects. These effects are the reason why the herb is banned in some states.
It’s estimated that up to 70% of Thailand’s male population chews 10-60 leaves each day. The leaves can be chewed, smoked or even consumed as a tea.
We’re going to talk about kratom’s effects on depression shortly, but this plant may also offer other health benefits, including:
Kratom Health Benefits
Kratom contains analgesic properties that can help alleviate pain. When chewing the leaves, the body produces more dopamine and serotonin to further ease pain.
The alkaloids, which have an opioid-like effect, dull the pain receptors in the body.
There’s a reason why you often see workers in Southeast Asia chewing on kratom leaves: they give you an energy boost. It works by optimizing specific metabolic processes that impact your hormone levels.
Kratom can increase circulation and oxygenated blood to the areas of your body that need it most.
You can get the same effect with kratom tablets.
Better Immune System
Some independent studies have found that the alkaloids in kratom leaves can improve the strength and resilience of the immune system.
Kratom leaf extract contains natural antioxidants and antimicrobial components.
Improved Sexual Appetite
Many traditional practitioners view kratom as a natural aphrodisiac and fertility booster. The extra blood flow and energy levels can help jumpstart your libido and fertility.
Improved Mental Performance
If you suffer from brain fog or have trouble staying focused, kratom may be able to help. When taken in high doses, kratom can create a sedative effect that provides no cognitive benefits.
But when taken in smaller doses, the herb may be able to help improve your mental state and performance.
When used over the short-term, users say kratom improves their memory while making them feel optimistic and outgoing. But with long-term use, kratom may reduce levels of acetylcholine and hinder cognitive performance.
Cycling kratom can help combat this effect.
Many people say that kratom helps them stay focused and attentive, which can be very beneficial if you’re studying for an exam or trying to learn something new. They feel more motivated, energetic and productive, which all equates to a better overall mental performance.
Research has shown that kratom may enhance the expression of dopamine receptors and RNA molecules that control them. The end result is improved cognitive learning and memory enhancement. It may also act as an anxiolytic agent to reduce anxiety when taken in small amounts.
How Can Kratom Help with Depression?
Can kratom really be used as a natural anti-depressant to help with depression? For many people, the answer is “yes.”
The alkaloids in kratom attach themselves to the opioid receptors in the brain.
Mitragynine is the alkaloid responsible for creating that euphoric and energetic feeling you get after consuming kratom.
One animal study found that mitragynine exerts an antidepressant effect, which is believed to be mediated by an interaction with neuroendocrine HPA axis systems.
There are many strains of kratom, and some are more effective at alleviating depression than others. The most common strains used for depression include:
- Green Malay: Green Malay kratom doesn’t produce a euphoric feeling, but it does uplift your mood.
- Red Vein Bali/Borneo: Considered the most sedating of kratom strains. Red Vein is often recommended for treating depression, as it also alleviates pain and other depression symptoms.
Of course, not everyone experiences relief from depression when taking kratom. It isn’t a guaranteed solution (no drug is), but many people do find relief.
Dosages for Depression
When taking kratom, it’s best to start with a small amount and work your way up to gauge your response to the herb.
Anecdotally, users recommend taking 2-3 doses of either Green Malay or Red Bali for depression. It’s important not to exceed 12-15 grams in a day. If you take any more than 15 grams in a day, you’ll start to develop a tolerance for kratom.
If you’re just getting started, users in the community recommend taking 2-3 grams. More frequent users can boost their intake to 4-7 grams. Experts can take 7-10 grams.
Is Kratom Addictive?
Although kratom is not addictive, some people do experience withdrawal symptoms if they exceed the recommended daily dosage. The withdrawal symptoms make some people believe that the herb is addictive, but manufacturers of kratom supplements say it’s no more addictive than chamomile or nutmeg (other herbs and spices).
Withdrawal symptoms are mild compared to opioid withdrawal, but they can still be a little uncomfortable. This is yet another reason to avoid going over the maximum recommended daily amount.
If you do happen to experience withdrawal, eating foods that are rich in the amino acid tyrosine can help. Foods that are rich in tyrosine include: pumpkin seeds, avocados, chia seeds, bananas, dairy products, almonds, lima beans, berries, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.
Even when you consider the potential for withdrawal symptoms, kratom has fewer side effects than prescription drugs. And let’s not forget that opioid prescriptions for pain are highly addictive – yet doctors prescribe them like candy.
No matter how you cut it, a natural plant – like kratom – is better overall than the side effects and addictive properties of prescription pain medications and anti-depressants.
What is the Best Kratom for Depression?
Because kratom is not regulated and does have opioid-like effects, it’s important to make sure that you buy high-quality, pure tablets. Otherwise, you have no idea what you’re putting into your body, and you have no idea how your body will react.
We like Etha’s SunRise blend for chronic fatigue and pain. It uplifts the mood while improving alertness. SunRise contains a blend of Green Vein and White Vein whole-leaf kratom strains.
Their SunSet blend is good for anxiety. It contains a blend of Red Vein and Green Vein whole-leave kratom strains that support muscle relaxation, alleviating pain and reducing inflammation.
Some people have trouble tolerating pure red, white or green strains, so the SunSet and SunRise blends are a great in-between option. They provide a little of each strain, so you can adjust as necessary without overdoing it.
Etha tests each strain in every harvest in its own Etha Labs as well as third-party labs.
Tests results can be viewed online, and they’re also included in each bag of botanicals. Etha tests for heavy metals, adulterants and purity using High-Performance Liquid Chromatography.
Etha also uses high-temperature pasteurization when drying kratom leaves to reduce the risk of salmonella and other contaminants making their way into the supplement.
You also have the option of choosing between powder and tablets with this supplement. Both are free of fillers and additives.
Kratom can be a solution for depression and brain fog when taken at the right dose and over the short-term. Just use common sense when taking it – don’t take more than the recommended amount and cycle the supplement.
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