Is Kratom an Opioid? The Final Say According to Science

Is Kratom an Opioid? The Final Say According to Science


This controversy surrounding the classification of Kratom as an opioid is so confusing. You may have heard of Kratom before, but you might be wondering: what exactly is Kratom and why is there so much debate around its classification? Why is there no straightforward answer to whether it is an opioid or not?

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the chemical composition of Kratom, how it is typically consumed, and the evidence for and against its classification as an opioid. By the end, you should have a better understanding of the debate and the potential implications of Kratom’s classification for its legal status and regulation.

Let’s dive into it.

What is Kratom? And how is it consumed?

Kratom, also known as Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia. The leaves of the kratom tree contain a group of compounds called alkaloids, which are responsible for kratom’s effects on the body. These alkaloids, particularly mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, interact with the brain’s opioid receptors, leading to a range of effects that can include pain relief, increased energy, and a sense of euphoria.

Kratom is typically consumed by chewing the fresh leaves of the kratom tree or by drying and grinding the leaves into a powder, which can then be taken orally in capsule form or brewed into a tea. Kratom is also available in the form of extracts, which are more concentrated versions of the plant’s active ingredients.

Kratom has gained popularity in recent years for its potential use as an alternative to traditional pain medications. However, it has also been the subject of much controversy and debate due to its potential for abuse and addiction.

Is Kratom an opioid? What you need to know!

As you may know, opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription painkillers like oxycodone and fentanyl, as well as illegal drugs like heroin. These drugs work by interacting with opioid receptors in the brain and producing a sense of pain relief and pleasure. However, they can also be highly addictive and potentially dangerous, particularly when taken in large amounts or combined with other substances.

So, what about Kratom?

Is it an opioid?

The answer is not quite as straightforward as you might think.

On one hand, Kratom does contain several compounds that are structurally similar to opioids and can bind to opioid receptors in the brain. This has led some researchers to classify Kratom as an opioid.

On the other hand, the effects of Kratom on the body and brain are quite different from those of traditional opioids. For example, while opioids can cause respiratory depression (slowed breathing) and sedation, Kratom does not seem to have these effects.

In fact, some people use Kratom as a way to wean themselves off of stronger opioids because it can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms without producing the same level of sedation and respiratory depression.

So, while Kratom does have some similarities to opioids, it is not exactly the same.

It is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the risks and benefits of Kratom, and to determine whether it should be classified as an opioid.

The controversy surrounding Kratom’s classification

The controversy surrounding Kratom's classification

As you may know, the classification of Kratom as an opioid is a controversial topic. On one hand, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared Kratom to be an opioid and has taken steps to restrict its use and sale.

On the other hand, some members of the scientific community and advocacy groups have argued that Kratom does not meet the criteria for classification as an opioid and that it should not be subject to the same regulations as other opioids.

So, what’s the truth? Is Kratom an opioid or not? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.


One of the main arguments against Kratom’s classification as an opioid is that it does not bind to the same receptors in the brain as other opioids, such as morphine or fentanyl. Instead, Kratom is thought to interact with a different set of receptors that are involved in the body’s stress response system.

Some researchers have suggested that Kratom may have potential as a treatment for conditions such as chronic pain or opioid addiction, as it seems to produce fewer side effects and a lower risk of addiction compared to traditional opioids.

On the other hand, the FDA has pointed to the presence of compounds in Kratom called mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which have been shown to bind to opioid receptors in the brain. The agency has also cited reports of Kratom-related deaths and cases of abuse, as well as the potential for Kratom to be used as a “legal” alternative to other opioids. Based on this evidence, the FDA has concluded that Kratom should be classified as an opioid and regulated as such.

The debate over Kratom’s classification as an opioid is ongoing, and more research is needed to fully understand the effects of this substance.

In the meantime, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and to follow the guidance of health professionals when it comes to using Kratom or any other substance.

Conclusion: The final say on Kratom being an opioid

While Kratom does have some chemical similarities to opioids and has been shown to produce opioid-like effects in some studies, it is not a traditional opioid like morphine or heroin.

In conclusion, the debate surrounding whether or not Kratom should be classified as an opioid is a complex and ongoing one. There is also conflicting evidence about Kratom’s potential for addiction and abuse.

Some research suggests that Kratom may have a lower potential for addiction compared to traditional opioids, while other studies have raised concerns about its abuse potential. Ultimately, more research is needed to fully understand the effects and potential risks of Kratom.

It’s important to note that Kratom is not without risks, and it should be used with caution. If you are considering using Kratom, it’s important to do your own research and speak with a healthcare professional. It’s also important to remember that Kratom is not a replacement for evidence-based medical treatment and should not be used as a sole form of treatment for pain or any other medical condition.

Scientific References:

  • “The opioid agonist activity of mitragynine, a natural product isolated from Mitragyna speciosa, in mice” by Koyama et al. (2009)
  • “Opioid receptor agonistic characteristics of mitragynine pseudoindoxyl in comparison with mitragynine derived from Thai medicinal plant Mitragyna speciosa” by Takayama et al. (2004)
  • “Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) dependence, withdrawal symptoms and craving in regular users” by Suwanlert et al. (1975)
  • “Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa): A systematic review” by Grundmann et al. (2017)
  • “Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa): A potential treatment for opioid withdrawal” by Henningfield et al. (2017)
  • “The use of kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) in opioid withdrawal” by Prozialeck et al. (2012)
  • “Mitragyna speciosa: An increasingly popular natural opioid” by Waltenburg et al. (2017)

FAQs about “Is Kratom an Opioid?”

Is Kratom considered an opioid scientifically?

No, current research doesn’t classify Kratom as an opioid. Its effects on opioid receptors differ from traditional opioids.

How does Kratom contrast with opioids scientifically?

Kratom’s interaction with delta receptors sets it apart. Its complex pharmacology leads to unique effects unlike typical opioids.

How safe is Kratom vs. opioids according to science?

Scientifically, Kratom may pose a different safety profile due to its less severe impact on respiration. However, its overall safety and benefits require further research.