What is Kratom and How Does it Work?

It’s still relatively unheard of to the general public, but there is a fiery debate raging in the US about it. Kratom is an herb that offers relief from pain, depression, and anxiety. And more importantly, it’s being touted as a tool to combat opioid addiction and quell the opioid epidemic the US is going through currently. But not everyone is convinced its as good as it says it is.


So what is Kratom?

Kratom is a tree found in Southeast Asia whose leaves have been used for hundreds of years to relieve pain. The leaves can be eaten raw, and are often chewed by local farmers, but it’s more commonly crushed, brewed into tea, or turned into capsules, tablets, and liquids. In low doses, this substance acts like a stimulant giving the user increased energy. In larger amounts, it acts like a sedative relieving pain and depression.


How does Kratom work?

The active ingredients in the plant targets the same parts of the brain that opioids do, like heroin, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl. Unlike opioids though, kratom doesn’t have the same harmful side effects like slowed breathing and suppressed respiration.


Why do opioid addicts use it?

Most deaths from opioid overdoses are from slowed breathing, called respiratory depression. Since kratom does not have this deadly side effect, it’s a safer alternative. Opioid addicts looking to stop using drugs such as heroin also turn to the drug as a form of relief from the physical and mental pains of withdrawal. Kratom is also supposedly less addictive than other withdrawal medications like methadone and suboxone.


Is Kratom safe?

The thing is, we don’t know. The DEA and FDA are currently looking into banning and regulating the substance. They also want to do further studies to see just how safe and or how addictive the drug is. While it does offer many benefits, there is much that is unknown about the drug still. Because kratom is sold as an herbal supplement and is unregulated, there have been cases where it is contaminated with salmonella and other bacteria. Due to all of the unknowns, and the way it binds to the brain similarly to dangerous opioids, many professionals consider it an illicit and addictive substance somewhere below conventional opioids.



There is a lot that is still unknown about kratom. While it does offer many benefits, in its current state it’s not safe to take. People risk swapping one addiction for another. Feel free to contact us to learn more; Dr. Rodriguez is one of the state’s leading experts on Kratom so we are more than qualified to discuss it with you.

Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez

Dr. Raul Rodriguez


Existing patients, please text 561-409-7296 for follow-up appointment requests or if you have medication concerns please text 561-409-7296.