Widespread use of kratom, a plant-derived substance, continues to grow. Kratom can come in different forms: It may be found as the dried leaf from the Mitragyna speciosa plant or processed into a green powder or resin. The leaves may be chewed, smoked or made into tea. The powder or resin can be ingested or smoked.

People who use kratom will often do so because of the substance’s stimulant and euphoric effects. Depending on the kratom dose, it can have effects similar to stimulants or opioids. Low doses of kratom might cause the user to feel more energy and less fatigue, while higher doses tend to cause euphoria and sedation similar to that experienced with opioid use.

Immediate Effects of Kratom 

Kratom starts working quickly, and its high kicks in within 5–10 minutes. A low dose of kratom can lead to side effects similar to stimulants, including:

  • Increased energy 
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased sex drive
  • Low appetite
  • Increased sociability
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Tremor
  • Problems with coordination 
  • Rapid heartbeat

However, high doses of the drug can cause the opposite effects. High doses of kratom can cause side effects like:

  • Sedation
  • Analgesia
  • Itching
  • Euphoria
  • Constipation
  • Nausea

How Long Do the Effects of Kratom Last? 

A kratom high can last anywhere from two to five hours. However, this can vary depending on factors like the dosage you have taken, as bigger doses can last longer than smaller ones.

Long-term Effects of Kratom Use

Scientists are still studying the long-term effects of kratom use. Little is known about long-term kratom effects on the body. However, scientists have become aware of several different possible health impacts of kratom use, including on the liver, heart, kidneys, brain and immune system. Unfortunately, some people have had negative health consequences from kratom use linked to these organ systems. The FDA has urged people to stay away from kratom partly for this reason.

Effects of Kratom on the Liver

Kratom can cause liver problems and has been linked to conditions like hepatitis. The liver consequences of kratom use often start after someone has regularly been on kratom for one to eight weeks. Symptoms of liver problems while on kratom may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Dark urine 
  • Yellow skin 
  • Yellow whites of the eyes

Effects of Kratom on Blood Pressure 

A fast heartbeat and high blood pressure are known kratom side effects. Typically, these side effects, closely linked to stimulants, occur when a person takes a lower dose of kratom. High blood pressure can be very dangerous and impact the heart and kidneys. This is especially risky for a person who already has high blood pressure, as kratom may cause it to spike further, endangering their organs.

Effects of Kratom on the Heart

Kratom can cause a rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. This makes kratom risky for heart health, especially if you already have an underlying heart condition or a history of heart problems.

Effects of Kratom on Kidneys

Kratom often contains impurities that can cause kidney damage. This includes lead and nickel, which can cause heavy metal damage that harms the kidneys. In addition, high blood pressure — another side effect of kratom use — is also linked to kidney damage.

Effects of Kratom on the Brain 

Experts are still unsure about the long-term effects of kratom on the brain. Although one study showed that a higher kratom intake did not seem to impact attention or memory, more studies are needed. This is because some data indicate that kratom may be hazardous to the brain: in one case report, a man developed brain swelling and a brain hemorrhage from kratom. Further, kratom often contains heavy metal impurities like lead which have been closely linked to cognitive impairment.

Effects of Kratom on Immune System

Although some kratom products claim to benefit the immune system, this has not been proven. People may, therefore, be confused about whether kratom does affect the immune system. To protect people from fraudulent claims like this, the FDA has started cracking down on kratom manufacturers who make unsupported claims about the benefits of kratom, including on the immune system.

Effects of Kratom on the Skin 

Kratom can cause a variety of skin effects, mainly due to the liver problems a person can develop while taking the drug. The drug can make you itch when you develop liver problems on kratom. In addition, you may develop yellow skin and eyes as your liver struggles with kratom toxicity. If you develop any skin symptoms while on kratom, you should seek medical attention to rule out severe liver problems from the drug causing the symptoms.

Dangers and Risks of Kratom Use

Although kratom is not yet a controlled substance, it is listed as a Drug and Chemical of Concern, and experts believe kratom can be addictive. This is largely due to kratom’s main psychoactive ingredients, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. In addition, the FDA has warned consumers to avoid kratom due to safety concerns.

Kratom can also cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, and long-term kratom users who take high doses will often have significant withdrawal symptoms. Kratom withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Runny eyes and nose 
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating 
  • Nerve pain

Can You Overdose on Kratom?

Although a kratom overdose is possible, it is unlikely to be fatal. Even so, a kratom overdose can be hard on the body and carry several different medical consequences. Further, combining kratom with other substances increases the likelihood of a fatal overdose. Symptoms of kratom overdose can include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Liver problems
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Seizures

If you suspect someone has overdosed on kratom, with or without other substances, seek emergency medical attention. You will not get in trouble for seeking help.

Getting Help for Substance Abuse in Columbus, Oh 

If you or a loved one struggles with kratom addiction, knowing where to turn for help can be challenging. But you can succeed in beating your kratom addiction with the help of our team at The Recovery Village Columbus. From medical detox to help you safely wean off kratom to inpatient and outpatient rehab to keep you off kratom for good, we support you every step of the way — don’t wait; contact ustoday to learn more.

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Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
Jessica-Pyhtila
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more
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Sethi, Roopa; Hoang, Nguyen; Ravishankar, Dheepthi Arakonam; et al. “Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa): Friend or Foe?” Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, January 30, 2020. Accessed July 30, 2022.

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Singh, Darshan; Narayanan, Suresh; Müller,  Christian P.; et al. “Long-Term Cognitive Effects of Kratom (M[…]speciosa Korth.) Use.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, January-March 2019. Accessed July 30, 2022.

Castillo, Austin; Payne, J. Drew; Nugent, Kenneth. “Posterior reversible leukoencephalopathy[…]ter kratom ingestion.” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, July 2017. Accessed July 30, 2022.

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.