Kratom (mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical evergreen tree native to Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and South Asian countries. People have used the leaves of this tree are used as a stimulant and a sedative to treat feelings of anxiety, depression, and relief from pain. Throughout the United States, kratom is typically either a controlled substance or it is banned. There has been much debate as to whether kratom is safe or not. Kratom is known to have the same number of alkaloids as opium and hallucinogenic mushrooms; the powerful effects of this drug make it addictive if not physically, then psychologically.

People who have taken kratom is low doses have described having more energy, being more alert, and feeling more sociable. When taken in high doses and as a sedative, kratom has been known to produce feelings of euphoria, with dull emotions and sensations. The leaves of the plant are typically crushed or powdered, and contain extracts from other plants as well. It may also be taken through paste, capsule, and tablet form, with some people even adding it to their tea as a form of pain management and opioid-withdrawal.

What makes kratom so controversial is mainly the fact that not enough research has been conducted to confirm its safety and effects. Alkaloids have a strong effect on the human body, which is why kratom could be potentially dangerous. The National Public Radio (NPR) claims that kratom could cause liver damage, seizures, and withdrawal symptoms. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has been seizing supplies of the substance and has been working on preventing further shipments of it to the United States due to lack of evidence and major concerns.

According to the FDA, at least 36 deaths occurred last year due to products containing kratom. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has listed the following as potential short-term health effects caused by kratom: nausea, itching, sensitivity to sunburn, sweating, dry mouth, increased urination, and more. Long-term effects are: anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, skin darkening, constipation, hallucinations, and more. People withdrawing from kratom may experience muscle aches, insomnia, irritability, hostility, emotional changes, runny nose, and more.

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