The kratom supplement has become increasingly popular over the last few years. The pandemic only exacerbated its popularity: people all over the world have improved their standards for healthy living. In fact, general supplement use is up.
But where does kratom fit into the supplement world? For starters, it’s important to understand what makes kratom stand out. Learning about this fascinating natural product will deepen your understanding of the kratom craze.
Kratom supplements are said to offer a variety of health benefits. People using kratom claim that it can reduce anxiety, decrease pain levels, and more. It’s even said to possess anti-inflammatory properties. This is all because of kratom’s primary alkaloids: mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Alkaloids are the active chemical compounds found within the kratom plant. When ingested, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine interact with nervous system receptors, bringing about kratom’s effects.
With this in mind, where does kratom fit into the larger supplemental market? Is kratom an FDA-approved supplement? To answer questions surrounding kratom and herbal supplements in general, let’s take a step back.
The Definition of a Supplement
The Oxford Dictionary defines a supplement as “something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.” When talking about kratom supplements, people using kratom are “enhancing” their body’s metaphysical health, so to speak.
Socially, however, the term “supplement” has taken on a deeper meaning. In the industry, there are various kinds of supplements. This includes:
- Dietary supplements
- Herbal supplements
But there is no concrete, one-size-fits-all definition. Vitamins and minerals, for example, offer daily doses of necessary nutrients– things your body needs to operate at full potential. On the other hand, extracts (like hemp-extracted CBD oil, for example) offer potential benefits to homeostasis and well-being but are not required by your body.
The term “supplement” is made even more confusing by mass-marketing. Supplements make good money in today’s world. As such, the market is often flooded with unnecessary or inept products that don’t actually offer any supplemental benefits.
Is Kratom a Supplement by Definition?
Kratom does meet the Oxford definition of a supplement: you are adding something to your body for enhanced benefits. However, kratom differs from other herbal supplements. Take a look at essential oils: they’ve been proven to do just about NOTHING that they’re advertised to do. Sure, they smell nice. But that’s about it.
Kratom differs from herbal supplements like essential oils because kratom has proven effects on the nervous system. It interacts with bodily receptors. These interactions have been mapped in a scientific setting.
How Does Kratom Compare to Other Supplements?
Is there another supplement with a notable likeness to kratom? Not exactly. Kratom is unique: it has a long history in Southeast Asia. For millennia, it’s been used as an herbal remedy for various health applications. Kratom trees grow wild and free all over the region, and locals often chew on the leaves or brew them into tea.
But that doesn’t mean there are no comparisons to be made.
- Kava: an herbal supplement that is said to reduce anxiety, promote sleep, and also comes in powder form (like kratom powder).
- Cacao: another herbal supplement that is believed to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and improve cardiovascular health.
- Wild Lettuce: a botanical supplement that is said to improve sleep, reduce muscle and joint pain, improve circulation, and more.
The Kratom Craze, Explained
Amid the massive number of herbal supplements on the market, why has kratom become so popular? For starters, people using kratom heavily advocate for its use. Kratom is NOT an FDA-approved supplement. Yet. However, the kratom community has come forward many times, preventing anti-kratom bans and promoting comprehensive legislation that protects the kratom industry.
People are passionate about kratom. They are not passive users. And while many other supplements might spark interest, many prove to be ineffective. We mentioned essential oils earlier, but it seems that every other week there’s an article denouncing these products.
While kratom supplements may have some side effects (which we’ll get to in a minute), the plant is overwhelmingly positive for a wide variety of people. What’s more, kratom users see real change in their day-to-day lives.
How Many People Use Kratom?
According to an NYU study published on April 29, 2021, about 0.7 percent of the US population actively uses kratom. In 2019 (the most recent year with available data), the US population was 328.2 million. This means that an estimated 2,297,400 people use kratom in the United States alone. And because kratom has a history in Southeast Asia, it’s reasonable to assume that more people use kratom worldwide than in the US.
Potential Kratom Side Effects
Kratom has few side effects. It’s also important to remember that everyone is unique, meaning side effects may vary from person to person. The most commonly reported kratom side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Tongue numbness
- Excessive urination
Note: Many of these potential side-effects can be negated or reduced by staying hydrated.
Is the Kratom Supplement Right for You?
If we’ve learned anything from the health and wellness markets over the last few years, it’s this: supplements are here to stay. However, that doesn’t mean all supplements will stick around. What we need is increased scientific analysis of the entire supplement market. Because kratom is not yet FDA-approved, it is difficult for researchers to secure funding and validate the health benefits of the kratom supplement. The same goes for a variety of other supplements as well.
So is kratom the right supplement for you? As with any health-minded product, the key is trial-and-error. If you’ve never taken kratom before, start with a small dose and increase the dose incrementally. This will show you how your body reacts to kratom. More importantly, you’ll be able to experience the potential benefits of mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine for yourself.
In addition, if you want to get involved and advocate for increased kratom legislation and clinical trials, visit the American Kratom Association (AKA) for more information. The AKA is responsible for passing countless kratom consumer protections nationwide. Furthermore, they are at the forefront of the battle against unjust anti-kratom legislation. Help keep the supplement legal and safe for generations to come!