Kratom Side Effects: Is It Safe To Take Every Day?

Last Updated: April 30, 2020

Kratom side effects are still poorly studied, yet numerous reports suggest they can be significantly dangerous to a person’s health. The negative side effects of using kratom can range from mild to severe, and some may require urgent treatment. Whether an individual has already tried the drug or is just planning to do so, it’s important to know about the potential dangers of kratom and how to cope with them.

Is Kratom Safe?

Kratom safety has been subject to debate for many years. Little reliable and conclusive research has been done to assess the plant’s safety and effectiveness. Due to kratom legal status in the United States, it’s challenging for many researchers to study the substance. Mitragyna speciosa is not illegal to possess and use in most states; however, its importing as a dietary supplement is banned.

The concerns around the plant stem from the side effects of kratom usage. Since Mitragyna speciosa acts on opioid receptors, it can cause problems with a person’s breathing, heart rate, and mental state.

The most common kratom negative side effects include:

  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • high blood pressure
  • weight loss
  • liver damage
  • muscle pains
  • drowsiness
  • respiratory depression
  • constipation and changes in urine

Long-Term Effects Of Kratom

The long-term kratom use is not a well-studied occurrence. However, research suggests that frequent and regular exposure to the drug can lead to various negative impacts that vary in severity. Those who keep ingesting the plant for a long time may experience worsening of some common side effects and the development of new, more dangerous symptoms.

The most frequent long-term effects of kratom include:

  • Anorexia. Since the drug tends to contribute to weight loss, its prolonged use can amplify this side effect. A person might feel less inclined to eat and, consequently, they can start losing weight rapidly. This condition is extremely dangerous and requires specialized psychological and pharmacological treatment.
  • Chronic insomnia. One of the Mitragyna speciosa’s most valued effects is its stimulating influence. Kratom side effects, therefore, include insomnia, agitation, and increased anxiety, all of which can get persistent with the long-term use of the substance.
  • Addiction and other mental conditions. Regardless of its perceived innocence, the plant is a psychoactive substance that alters a user’s mental state. As a result, regular exposure to the drug can lead to psychological and possibly physical dependence, hallucinations, depression, and various cognitive impairments.

how kratom causes mental problems

Does Kratom Cause Constipation?

Kratom constipation is one of the most frequently reported side effects among the users of this drug. The powder of the plant is disruptive to the digestive processes, which causes a variety of negative side effects, including constipation. The condition arises because frequent use of the substance tends to slow down the functioning of the digestive system. Constipation is typical with all Mitragyna speciosa strains, although some users report to experience fewer problems with the white vein type.

Constipation is normally one of the less severe kratom negative side effects. While uncomfortable, it usually doesn’t progress and doesn’t cause serious health issues. However, in some cases, constipation can lead to fecal impaction and become a significant hazard. Prolonged constipation causes toxicity and requires medical attention.

Kratom Nausea

Nausea is one of the common kratom side effects. Despite the kratom benefits that some people experience, nausea can be extremely inhibiting for many people, too. The substance is thought to cause nausea by binding to opioid receptors, which can be responsible for the feeling of sickness. For a small number of people, nausea can be triggered by the flavor of a particular strain of the plant.

Kratom Wobbles

Eye wobbles, or a condition called nystagmus, are very characteristic of Mitragyna speciosa. Some people report feeling their eyes “skip” involuntarily from one place to another, causing accompanying side effects such as dizziness, vertigo, and nausea. Although, by itself, eye wobbles are not dangerous, this can happen to be one of the more severe negative side effects of kratom.

When the nerves in a person’s eye twitch uncontrollably, it can make it incredibly difficult to focus on the simplest tasks. While reading and writing are usually not a matter of life and death, driving and operating industrial machinery can both be deadly to someone who experiences eye wobbles as a side effect of kratom. The strains of the plant that are known to frequently cause wobbles include Bali, Maeng Da, and Indo.

heart disease after kratom use

Is Kratom Bad For One’s Heart?

Since Mitragyna speciosa acts as a stimulant, kratom and heart rate are tightly connected. The substance contains alkaloids that stimulate the production of epinephrine and norepinephrine, triggering a response from the cells that are sensitive to these chemicals. The heart is one of the organs that contain such cells. Consequently, the use of this drug can rapidly increase a person’s heart rate and blood pressure, leading to a stroke or heart attack.

Also, kratom and blood pressure problems exist in the opposite spectrum when the relaxing red vein type of the plant is used. For instance, when a person mixes kava and kratom to achieve greater sedation, the individual might experience a slower heart rate and a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Kratom Headache

Kratom effects on the body are not sufficiently studied to determine whether the plant causes some separate side effects. Headache during the use of the drug can be one part of a whole bunch of side effects, accompanied by confusion, hallucinations, depression, and anxiety. Since Mitragyna speciosa alters the normal functioning of the brain, it is possible for it to cause headaches ranging from mild to severe.

Kratom Weight Loss

Weight loss is one of the most significant dangers of kratom. While for many other drugs weight loss is a mild side effect, Mitragyna speciosa is known for causing a rapid and significant decrease in a person’s body mass. The plant, particularly green Maeng Da strain, can suppress the appetite to the point of people forcing themselves to eat to maintain a normal weight. At the same time, Mitragyna speciosa is believed to increase a person’s metabolism, enabling the individual’s body to convert food to energy faster. The simultaneous boost in metabolism and plummeting appetite contribute to dangerous weight loss and can even trigger the development of anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.

liver damage

Is Kratom Bad For One’s Liver?

One of the less-known yet significant side effects of kratom usage is liver damage. Some form of liver injury has been reported in the users of the drug, but the exact mechanism of how the drug causes the damage remains unknown.

When the plant is the reason for the injury, even microdosing kratom can be dangerous. A study reveals that even the ingestion of tea from the plant’s powder can induce acute hepatitis and be life-threatening. There are also cases when Mitragyna speciosa acts as an amplifier to the liver problems caused by other drugs and medication that a person takes.

Kratom Kidney Damage

There is no direct link between kratom and kidney stones, however, reports suggest that regular or excessive use of the plant can contribute to their development. The strongest kratom often increases the frequency of urination, making a user lose water more quickly. As a result, the person can suffer dehydration. Dehydration is not the main factor in the formation of kidney stones, but the loss of fluid that is left unattended can cause damage to the kidneys.

The problems connected to kratom and kidneys may also develop because of the toxicity of the drug. Although Mitragyna speciosa is believed to be of moderate action, the products containing it can have a variety of unknown and dangerous contaminants. The lack of reliability of such products also makes it hard to evaluate how the plant in its pure form affects the kidneys.

hair loss associated with kratom

Kratom Hair Loss

Hair loss is, fortunately, one of the less probable kratom dangers. There are no studied indications for the drug to cause hair loss, although some users report thinned and falling out hair that they connect to their use of the plant.

Hair loss might be one of the kratom long-term side effects, as it occurs after prolonged exposure to the drug. Mitragyna speciosa is believed to possess immunostimulating properties, which can sometimes be linked to hair loss. For instance, a person’s immune system can be overly active and attack the hair follicles, causing inflammation and subsequent damage to the hair.

Kratom And Sex

Some people take kratom pills to improve their libido and sexual performance. Although the plant does have a potential for improving libido, it sometimes works not to boost sex drive but to inhibit it. Erectile dysfunction, delayed orgasm, reduced sensations, and experiencing less pleasure from sex can all be side effects of kratom.

Kratom During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

The plant is most frequently used by people trying to self-medicate various mental and physical conditions, predominantly of long-term nature. Consequently, many wonder whether it is safe to use kratom while pregnant, as quitting it suddenly for nine months may be inconvenient.

The drug is generally not safe to use during pregnancy. First of all, since the plant is not regulated in the U.S. as a medicine, and since it is also prohibited to import it as a dietary supplement, there is no way to control the quality of the product. In some cases, a person will be fine even if the product they have ingested is of poor quality. A fetus, however, may suffer severe side effects of such usage. Secondly, Mitragyna speciosa binds to opioid receptors, and while it’s not an opiate itself, it might cause dependence in the child.

Using kratom during breastfeeding is also not recommended. Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, the main acting components of the drug, are exerted into the milk and can be ingested by the baby. It is unknown how the exposure may affect the newborn, as no reliable studies on the matter have been conducted. Current users of the drug who are breastfeeding should consider discussing alternatives to kratom with their doctor.

How To Cope With Kratom Side Effects

The side effects of kratom are more frequent and widespread than many people believe. The most common negative consequences include constipation, eye wobbles, nausea, heart problems, and sexual dysfunction. People with pre-existing liver and kidney issues may also notice their conditions worsening. The side effects of long-term kratom use can become progressively more dangerous, particularly if the user increases the dose. Mitragyna speciosa can also cause physical and psychological dependence. If a person notices any side effects or signs of abuse or addiction, it is critical to seek professional substance abuse treatment and therapies. Such facilities as drug rehab centers can provide their patients with a full spectrum of required services to ensure effective recovery.

Page Sources

  1. Import Alert 54-15. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  2. Mousa, Mina S; Sephien, Andrew BS; Gutierrez, Juliana; O'Leary, Charlotte. N-Acetylcysteine for Acute Hepatitis Induced by Kratom Herbal Tea. American Journal of Therapeutics. 2018; 25(5): e550-e551. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000000631.
  3. Mackay L, Abrahams R. Novel case of maternal and neonatal kratom dependence and withdrawal. Canadian Family Physician. 2018; 64(2): 121–122.

Published on: April 30th, 2020

Updated on: April 30th, 2020

About Author

Peter J. Grinspoon, MD

Dr. Peter Grinspoon is an experienced physician with long-term clinical practice experience. As a former analgesic addict, Dr. Grinspoon knows precisely how important it is to provide patients with effective treatment and support. Medical writing for him is the way to communicate with people and inform them about their health.


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