If you ask a physician what you should do for the chronic pain of fibromyalgia, he or she will probably say exercise, sleep hygiene, healthy diet, and medications. Really, medications is the only part of that list that wouldn’t apply to any Joe on the street. Everyone should exercise, practice good sleep hygiene, and have a healthy diet to feel good. While I have had good luck with all three of those things, they don’t “cure” fibro, and they are unreliable. I can get a fibro flare right in the middle of being on a great exercise/sleep/eating streak. So does feeling better fall on meds? For me, the answer is no. I’ve never taken a medication that made me feel better, and most created as many or more problems by taking them. I have had some success with supplements like fish oil and B-complex vitamins. Looking at supplements, one of the ones that is mentioned a lot on support group sites is kratom.
Kratom is a fairly controversial supplement right now. It has been on the FDA’s Drugs and Chemicals of Concern watch list for some time, and there is a possibility that it will be banned outright. I read a couple of articles about kratom (see Prozialeck, Singh et al, and Lydecker et al in the library), and there is definitely not a firm consensus on the benefits or risks of taking kratom. Here are a few points to make note of, however, if you are considering taking it:
- There seems to be some problems with harmful chemicals being mixed into kratom that gets imported into the United States. Lydecker et al note that several packaged kratom products had “artificially elevated concentrations of 7-hydroxymitragynine,” which is actually the chemical that causes some of the side effects of kratom.
- There have been NO well-controlled, clinical trials to determine its effectiveness.
- While the FDA tends to call kratom an opioid, it’s not. Instead of sedating, it has mildly stimulating property, which helps for chronic fatigue. It does not usually produce a euphoric response after taking it, and it does not depress respiration, all of which opioids do. In addition, kratom doesn’t use the same chemical path which opioids use which creates opioid side effects and dependence.
- The people who have actually died while taking kratom may have been taking other supplements or medications, so there is a risk in combining kratom with other meds. Until actual studies are done to explore kratom more, it might be a good idea to be careful what it is combined with.
- Most researchers have indicated that kratom is not as dangerous as opioids, including morphine. However, there is a strong possibility of addiction and side effects.
Bottom line, the research is not there to be able to safely take kratom, but there is more than enough indication that it should be done and that it will probably help people who suffer from chronic pain. As usual, when I hear about something like that and find out that more than likely the money is not being put into a natural product while money is being dumped into developing and advertising for big pharma companies, I get a little cranky. There have been a couple of patents that have been granted for uses of kratom, and I’ll have to look into those. However, this is for me far from safe enough to take regularly. They need to fix the supply so there is no adulteration and they need to determine what interacts in a dangerous way. Who is “they” and why haven’t they done this? I dunno.