Before we delve into this article’s details about kratom and suboxone, it is imperative to admit that researchers and scientists have failed us big time when it comes to ascertaining the medicinal properties of kratom.
Wait, do kratom products have medicinal properties? Well, there are two versions of this story. The first story comes from the natives of South East Asia, where kratom grows naturally as an evergreen tropical tree. These natives have remained firm that kratom leaves have herbal healing capabilities, which is hard to oppose considering their ancestors have used it for centuries.
On the other end is a science story. After a decade and a half of intensive research, no scientific proposition that kratom has any medicinal value has been drawn.
You might have heard that kratom relieves pain, treats depression, etc. These are not true, at least not from a medical perspective. I understand that this sounds confusing if you use kratom to alleviate pain, and it works, and for once science sounds ridiculous!
With more research into each compound on kratom leaves, who knows what the future holds?
Back to kratom and suboxone, which is another topic of contention in the medical and drug industry, with the main question being, can kratom replace suboxone in fighting opioid addiction?
Here is what we know so far.
Table of Contents
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a drug that contains buprenorphine and Naloxone. The drug is mainly used to treat addiction to narcotics, such as heroin and cocaine.
Narcotics cause addiction by forcing the brain to depend on them and inhibit proper functioning in their absence. Suboxone compounds, buprenorphine, and Naloxone work antagonistically in combating these effects of narcotic drugs.
On one hand, buprenorphine has similar effects as the narcotic drug the patient is addicted to. Therefore, when consumed, it stimulates the brain just as the narcotic would.
On the other hand, Naloxone nullifies some of these effects initiated by buprenorphine. These effects include feelings of well-being and pain relief, which are the primary causes of addiction.
By combining the two, Naloxone and buprenorphine, the brain detects the presence of narcotics in your system but doesn’t depend on it to initiate any effects which would otherwise be dependent on.
That’s how opioid addiction is treated using suboxone, however, it isn’t a straightforward process as it sounds. Suboxone has some of the worst side effects; no wonder people hope kratom would be a silver bullet.
Effects of Suboxone
As earlier mentioned, buprenorphine is a hard drug and has similar effects to those of other narcotics. It may slow your breathing at times, even leading to death if breathing becomes too weak.
Unlike kratom, suboxone should be prescribed and administered within the jurisdiction of a medical practitioner. Patients under these drugs should be monitored for the entire period they will be using the drug.
Patients can exhibit the following signs and symptoms when the body gets overwhelmed by the suboxone compounds.
- Weak and shallow breathing which might stop while sleeping
- Feelings of light-headedness and dizziness
- Slurred speech and blurred vision
- Loss of coordination and extreme weakness,
- Liver failure characterized by upper stomach pain, lack of appetite, dark urine, and jaundice (yellow stool)
- Low cortisol causing nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetites
- Opioid withdrawal symptoms such as shivering, watery eyes, Goosebumps, and runny nose
It is advisable to seek emergency medical assistance if the patient shows any of the above symptoms.
Why is Suboxone more ‘dangerous’ than Kratom?
Well, suboxone introduces opioid chemicals into the body systems at the same time, inhibiting their effects. The brains signal the synthesis of similar chemicals into the bloodstream to combat the artificial opioid compounds’ deficiency. This results in an internal conflict between the biological chemicals and the artificial compounds in the buprenorphine.
Another reason is that suboxone can react with other chemicals in your blood system. In worst-case scenarios, these chemical interactions lead to a condition known as serotonin syndrome. You must inform your doctor if you are under any other medications such as herbal products, or medication for;
- mental illness
- migraine headaches
- Parkinson’s disease
Unlike kratom, suboxone overdose is fatal and common. The drug has to be administered carefully by wrapping the tablet on a thin paper and pressing it underneath your tongue, where it slowly dissolves. Chewing the whole drug will lead to rapid absorption by the body and an apparent overdose.
Lastly, suboxone is a big no for pregnant women as it has devastating effects on unborn children. If you use the drug during pregnancy, your baby will be born an addict, something that is life-threatening and takes months to cure.
It doesn’t end there; suboxone can be passed through breast milk and can cause fatal breathing problems and drowsiness to your baby. Always consult widely and openly with your doctor before using suboxone.
Side Effects of Suboxone
Here are general side effects of suboxone absent in kratom:
- withdrawal symptoms
- dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, feeling drunk, trouble concentrating
- nausea, vomiting, constipation
- tongue pain, redness, or numbness inside your mouth
- fast or pounding heartbeats increased sweating
- sleep problems (insomnia)
- Headache, back pain
From the information above, suboxone appears to be a necessary evil. The drug cures opioid addiction but comes with a lot of precautionary measures in place. One wrong step is fatal or causes irreversible damage.
Therefore, why hasn’t kratom been legally admitted as a less scary, better alternative? Let’s see what research has established thus far;
What is Kratom?
Kratom is a coffee plant relative that thrives in the subtropical climate of Southeast Asia. The plant has attracted a lot of attention due to its possibility of possessing medicinal values. As a coffee relative, it is expected that mitragyna speciosa has stimulant compounds on its leaves.
Initial research has indicated that the plant has more than 40 different active alkaloids. What the scientists haven’t cracked yet is how these compounds react with one another to generate various effects on human beings. Thus far, it has been noted that each alkaloid generates a different effect when isolated from other alkaloids.
What does Research indicate about Kratom?
There have been a lot of publications on various findings of kratom research. As expected, some have expressed negative opinions, but newer findings indicate some light at the end of the tunnel.
One of these recent publications in the Psychopharmacology Journal stated successful results from an experiment on the psychological effects of pure mitragynine on rats and if it could treat morphine dependency on these organisms.
According to the lead researcher, Dr. Cachat, the first experiment investigates the effects of mitragynine and morphine on two rats’ groups. Both groups of rats were administered with mitragynine and suboxone every 12 hours for two weeks.
After a fortnight, the drugs were withdrawn, and the rats were observed. It was concluded that rats on suboxone and morphine had higher withdrawal symptoms, while those on mitragynine had none.
This team’s second experiment sought to investigate and compare the effectiveness of mitragynine and suboxone (buprenorphine). The results were positive for mitragynine with increased response rates on the specimen rats, while suboxone hugely depended on the dosages. This proves that mitragynine is a better Opioid Use Disorder treatment than suboxone. Hopefully, similar results can be achieved in humans.
The only drawback of this experiment is that it utilizes 98% pure mitragynine. Kratom leaves have a huge assortment of alkaloids blended with mitragynine. How these alkaloids interact with one another is still a mystery. This assumption is made in the experiment, which cannot be overlooked, but with more research on the same, more actionable results can be achieved.
However, the finding is generally consistent with many user testimonials who attest that kratom has lesser withdrawal effects.
Other sources claim that kratom has more detrimental harm than good. A study carried out on a selected group of kratom users reported severe withdrawal symptoms similar to those in opioid users. Additionally, the report indicated that the users had cravings for kratom after withdrawal.
The above claims are further supported by the fact that kratom overdose is treated using buprenorphine, just like in opioid overdose.
Whether kratom is a solution to the suboxone problem and a key to opioid addiction treatment is subject to a future research finding.
Despite its effects, kratom is legal in the United States, with only a few regions prohibiting its use. Most of the kratom in the United States is imported from the South East Asian Islands of Borneo, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
As a buyer, it is your responsibility to verify the authenticity and quality of the products you purchase from online vendors or local stores. Since the industry is relatively new, there have been cases of contaminated products being leaked into the market.
For these reasons, authentic kratom stores made it their obligation to provide lab test certification for all their products. Contaminated kratom may contain lethal heavy metals such as mercury and lead.
Lastly, kratom is still a drug and should be treated as such. It is advisable to obtain your information from professional sources on the usage, effects, and dosages. High amounts of kratom, like suboxone, can be fatal. However, if consumed in the right way, you are assured of a memorable kratom experience.
In case kratom is working better as a suboxone substitute for you, then all the best. However, everything else depends on future research outcomes and the hope of having a better OUD treatment option to suboxone depends on it.