By Fred Kaeser, Guest Columnist
Like many of you, I have been following closely all of the kratom related articles here at PNN over the past month.
Prior to these articles, I had heard the name kratom several times in various readers' comments, but quite frankly I had no idea what kratom actually is. But all that has changed and it changed very quickly.
Truthfully, I was dumbstruck by the many comments praising the supposed wonderful pain reducing qualities of kratom. And when I read the results of PNN's kratom survey, I was convinced to explore as much information as I could about this leaf.
Admittedly, the kratom survey was very far from scientifically valid, but the results were astonishing to me. Virtually every one of the 6,000 or so respondents claimed this leaf to be a miracle worker. Not just for pain, but for various emotional and mental illnesses, and for opioid and even alcohol withdrawal. The more I read and researched the kratom leaf the more tempted I was to try it.
I have been in severe, daily pain close to ten years now. Those who have read my previous columns here at PNN, including my comments to others' articles, know that I am prescribed opioids for my pain. They also know that I am concerned about the various risks associated with my opioid use, and also know that I am a huge supporter of complementary and alternative pain therapies.
I respect and am very appreciative of my opioid prescription. Without question, opioids reduce my level of pain and for that I am thankful. But I am also cognizant of the risks, especially the risk for developing a physical dependence to these medications, and consequently I am always trying to minimize just how often I must take my opioids.
So, it was easy for me to segue into trying something new to ameliorate my pain. And kratom seemed to fit the bill.
Even with the risk of a kratom ban, I was able to find an online purveyor who was still selling and who I had heard mentioned was a reliable vendor by many commenters on a number of kratom websites. I bought the Maeng Da strain as that seemed to be the best choice for me. I bought the type that is finely crushed and kind of flour-like in consistency. It wasn't too expensive.
Based upon what I had read, as a novice to the leaf, I started with slightly less than a teaspoon in the morning (about 2 grams). I dumped it into some water, swished it around, and chugged it. Some residue was left, so I added some more water, and down it went. Pretty bitter, gritty and crappy tasting. But, truth be told, it was not much worse than the powdered green vegetable supplement I take every day. Kind of like eating bitter, dried grass.
About 30 minutes later I was feeling some energy, an up-lift, and within fifteen minutes more my pain was reducing. I've been taking kratom for a bit more than a one week now and I have since reworked my dose to about 4 grams. This dose does the job for about 6 hours. My pain is still there but is dramatically reduced, and I feel an increase in energy as well.
I've read about some of the risks associated with kratom, so I've resisted taking a second dose during the day. And after taking it for 3 days in a row I am now taking it every other day. If I was to do a second dose I would keep it to an additional 2 grams, but haven't gone there yet.
My take is it works as well as an oxycodone 10mg. Kratom works as a wonderful compliment to the alternative pain therapies I utilize and I have not taken it on any day that I do my opioid medication. I am a little concerned about doing kratom every day, as there are stories about developing dependence.
I still have more to learn about kratom. But I definitely see it being as effective as the opioid medication I take. I have even been able to reduce that medication somewhat in just the time I've been using the kratom. I'll see how things progress and I will continue to research and learn more about this leaf.
I can see though that it does the job. I am tempted to give up the opioids and just do kratom, but I'm not there yet. I know what I'm dealing with when it comes to the opioids and I'm still too ignorant about kratom.
If you have pain, you might want to give kratom a try. It's still early, but I am pretty impressed by what it is able to do.
Fred Kaeser, Ed.D, is the former Director of Health for the NYC Public Schools. He suffers from osteoarthritis, stenosis, spondylosis and other chronic spinal problems.
Fred taught at New York University and is the author of What Your Child Needs to Know About Sex (and When): A Straight Talking Guide for Parents.
Pain News Network invites other readers to share their stories with us. Send them to: editor@PainNewsNetwork.org.
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.