Kratom, compared to Tramadol, is just in its infancy stages. Tramadol has been around since the 1970s and has been used widely as a pain reliever, something that has rendered it to abuse more than prescription.
In this article, we will compare the two, Kratom and Tramadol, and choose the better devil between them.
Kratom has enjoyed quite some following in the recent past with dozens of Reddit’s subreddit kratom communities gaining hundreds of followers every month. The internet hasn’t been spared by the substance’s forceful intrusion into the drug industry where big names like legal marijuana and Tramadol have reigned supreme for decades.
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What exactly is Kratom?
Kratom is a product derived from mitragyna speciosa, which is native to Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Indonesia, and Borneo.
Surprisingly, the natives have been using kratom for centuries as herbal medicine, but the world knew of the drug’s existence just yesterday.
The kratom plant is a close relative to the coffee plant, and just like coffee, it has stimulant compounds, responsible for its opiate-like effects.
Initially, the plant was harvested in the wild, as it thrives wildly in the tropical rain forests of Oceania. However, commercial production has been established in the recent past with many big-money companies jumping in to take advantage of the new gold mine.
Legality of Kratom
Kratom is legal in the United States except for a couple of states that have opted to abstain from the drug. Globally, many nations are yet to formulate any actionable regulation on kratom.
The assimilation of kratom has been painfully slow, thanks to a lack of progress from scientific researchers. Initial research indicated that kratom had devastating effects similar to marijuana and was classified as a schedule 2 drug in 2016 by the FDA.
A year later, new evidence emerged disapproving the earlier claims forcing the FDA to declassify the substance as a food supplement.
Perhaps the main challenge facing the kratom industry is not its effects on the users but the misinformation in the public domain. Since it is a relatively new drug, with little research available, people publish misguiding information on the effects and dosages of kratom, something which has misled many new users, even leading to abuse, misuse, and fatal overdose cases.
Another challenge has been the lack of a standard production chain. Fake and contaminated products have been leaked into the market, causing harm to unsuspecting users. In recent cases, deaths have been recorded after users consumed kratom laced with opiates such as Valium and morphine.
That’s not all, some kratom products have been found to contain heavy carcinogenic metals such as mercury and lead, while others were infected with salmonella microbes which can cause cholera. All these challenges cause mistrust on these products scaring away potential users.
Can Kratom replace Tramadol as a Pain Reliever?
Scientists have failed to establish any medicinal values of kratom thus far. If the stories from the native Thai communities and reviews from active users were anything to go by, then kratom is a holy grail.
As of today, research has been able to only identify a few alkaloid compounds in mitragyna speciosa. These alkaloids are responsible for stimulant properties exhibited by the drug. They are mainly stored on the leaves but can be found on any other part of the plant.
According to reports, these alkaloids exist in various forms and their interactions with each other yield different results on the user’s system. Drawing out the exact combination that yields a specific result has remained a mystery to many researchers who requested to be given more time.
For these reasons, the FDA and DEA have classified kratom as a food supplement, and anything else is subject to future research findings.
Nonetheless, kratom is known to initiate euphoric feelings accompanied by sedative side effects. Many people have associated these opiate-like effects with those of Tramadol and its narcotic relatives such as oxycontin.
The main difference between kratom and Tramadol is that kratom, despite being less powerful, is non-addictive. Although some cases of kratom dependency have been recorded, they quickly waned out after a short time.
To help you understand the difference fully, let us look into the available details on Tramadol;
What is Tramadol?
Tramadol, also known as Ultram, has been used for decades as a pain reliever for chronic cancer pain and postoperative pain. In a real sense, Tramadol is a prescribed opioid pain reliever similar to oxycontin and Vicodin.
However, unlike the former, Tramadol is preferred since it can alter the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine pain receptors acting as an anti-depressant.
Additionally, Tramadol has less susceptibility to misuse compared to other opiate prescriptions, but its overdose can be fatal or leads to other conditions such as serotonin syndrome. The drug sometimes interacts with other drugs in the body systems generating life-threatening reactions within the body.
Medically Recommended Uses of Tramadol
When taken as instructed, Tramadol is intended to be used as a cure for mild to severe pain. Physicians may prescribe Tramadol to be used on an as-needed basis or in an extended-release plan for around-the-clock pain control.
The drug can still cause slowed breathing rates, and should not be taken in larger doses than directed. Chewing of extended-release Tramadol tablets can lead to possibly fatal overdoses. Tramadol should not be used after recently taking other narcotics, tranquilizers, sedatives, or alcohol. Furthermore, it should not be consumed with other around-the-clock anesthetic pain relievers.
Illicit and Recreational Use of Tramadol
Tramadol has long been reported to be side-tracked from its expected usage as a prescription pill and misused recreationally. Similar to other opioid prescriptions, users of Tramadol can develop a real addiction to the drug, and using higher doses is linked with a greater likelihood of developing an addiction.
Nevertheless, this susceptibility to abuse may similarly be due to Tramadol’s different mechanisms of action as well as its opioid effects.
Prescriptions like naltrexone, which inhibit the action of narcotic pills at the body’s opioid receptors, are only partly effective at preventing the effects of Tramadol. To further elaborate, tramadol’s power, Naloxone, which is used to reverse the overdose effects of opioid drugs, is only 30% effective on Tramadol.
Therefore, in cases of tramadol overdose, Naloxone cannot reverse the seizures and breathing problems associated with it.
In a healthy person, Tramadol is broken down in the liver by the CYP2D6 hormone.
However, the rates at which this enzyme is produced varies significantly from one individual to another. Therefore, a dose that appears mild to one user might be overwhelming to another, which means that the drug can be fatal to those with slow tramadol metabolisis.
Effects of Tramadol Consumption
Tramadol can cause the following effects when taken under prescriptions;
These effects decrease as you continue to use the drug and your body adapts to it. In case they don’t fade, have a chat with your doctor to establish why.
Additionally, you can exercise some healthy activities to counter the side effects of the drug.
For instance, you can prevent constipation by eating dietary fiber, drinking enough water, and exercising. Laxative can come in handy as well, and you should consult your medical practitioner on what laxative you should use.
In case you feel dizzy or lightheaded, ensure you get up slowly and avoid quick up and down shots. This gives your blood enough time to occupy the vessels in the brain.
Tramadol can only be prescribed after your doctor has judged that the benefits are more than the side effects. In most instances, those using the drug don’t have the side effects and that why you should discuss with your doctor if you experience extreme side effects including:
- Mental/mood changes (such as agitation, hallucinations)
- Interrupted breathing during sleep (sleep apnea),
- Severe stomach/abdominal pain, unusual tiredness,
- Difficulty urinating,
- Weight loss
- Signs of your adrenal glands not working well (such as loss of appetite,
Traditional opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone initiate the ‘high feeling’ when taken in high dosages. Unlike these two, Tramadol activates the opioid receptors but blocks the serotonin and norepinephrine neuroreceptors preventing the high reaction.
For this reason, tramadol users experience opioid withdrawal syndrome and atypical withdrawal syndromes. According to the DEA, 90% of users experienced the former while only 10% experience the latter.
Here are typical withdrawal symptoms.
- Runny nose
- Tearing up
- Trouble sleeping and insomnia
- Muscle and body aches
- Racing heart rate
- Fast breathing
With all these effects and technicalities associated with Tramadol, it’s clear why kratom appears to be the silver bullet. Kratom is less addictive compared to Tramadol and has little to side effects.
What could be a better medical breakthrough in this department than getting a tramadol substitute that can be consumed without a doctor’s supervision and the fear of making that one fatal error during medication?
There are thousands of testimonies from kratom users of the drug’s anesthetic properties. Although, the FDA and DEA still dispute this topic, citing limited information on the same, if it is working for you, why not use it.
Kratom is less scary than Tramadol, and who would want to be caught in a maze of opioid addiction?