Anxious feelings are something that literally everyone experiences at some point or another. People often feel anxious before starting a big work project, meeting someone new, or making a crucial decision about something. It is completely normal.
However, when it stops becoming normal, it is when this anxiety begins to invade all aspects of your life. At this point, it becomes an anxiety disorder. Aside from just making you feel irrationally anxious all the time, anxiety disorders can cause many other symptoms.
Treatment of anxiety disorders often involves therapy, medication, or some combination of the two. One such medication is kratom, a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia whose dried leaves contain medicinal and psychoactive properties.
In this article, we will give you an overview of anxiety disorders and kratom, how kratom works, its benefits and side effects, where to get kratom, and the best strains to take to treat anxiety.
What Are Anxiety Disorders?
An anxiety disorder is best described as an intense, persistent, and irrational feeling of anxiety and fear. Anxiety disorders interfere significantly with a person’s ability to perform day-to-day activities.
A person suffering from an anxiety disorder will often go far out of their way to avoid scenarios that may cause these feelings.
Adolescents and young adults, in particular, are the most prone to developing anxiety disorders. It is often some kind of trauma or intense pressure early on in life that can lead to the later development of anxiety disorders.
In fact, nearly 1 in 3 modern adolescents will experience some form of anxiety disorder. This is an incredibly high rate, but sadly it is still increasing; between 2007 and 2012, the number of children and teens diagnosed with an anxiety disorder went up by 20%.
What Causes Anxiety?
Children who witness or experience any kind of severely traumatic event are at risk of developing anxiety disorders. Certain personality types are more likely to experience anxiety disorders than others.
Some mental health disorders, including anxiety, can even be a genetic issue that runs in an entire family. Abuse of some drugs can also cause anxiety disorders.
However, there are several common social and cultural factors that are likely contributing to the current increase in anxiety disorders among today’s youth.
The “culture of achievement” that pervades most modern school systems is one factor. School curriculums are generally becoming more intensive with greater workloads.
The increase in academic pressure that many kids face today can easily put a much greater mental strain on them.
Aside from the greater challenges of modern schooling, the rise of social media is perhaps the main factor when it comes to causing undue anxiety in young people today.
Being constantly connected to everyone around you means you get bombarded with content that can potentially be damaging to one’s self-esteem.
Young people inevitably end up comparing themselves to their peers who present themselves on social media as having perfect lives filled with wonderful accomplishments. These unfair self-imposed comparisons can have a massive impact on one’s self-image.
In addition, using social media can expose young people to a vast amount of bad and scary news that they might otherwise not have seen. While staying informed about world issues is important, it is a double-edged sword; overexposure to such news can make the world feel irrationally threatening.
Anxiety disorders typically develop in one’s youth but can last for months if not years after the initial onset. Anxiety disorders don’t usually resolve themselves without some sort of treatment.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Aside from the obvious symptoms of persistent anxiety and fear, anxiety disorders can cause numerous other mental and physical symptoms. There are also different kinds of anxiety disorders that manifest in different ways.
General anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive anxiety about everyday things like work, school, and relationships.
This anxiety and worrying can get to the point where it negatively impacts these areas of life. People with general anxiety disorder experience bouts of anxiety that can last for minutes to hours.
Panic disorder is characterized by recurring, unexpected panic attacks that come on quickly and peak within minutes. A panic attack is a feeling of incredibly intense, uncontrollable fear. Panic attacks may happen occasionally or frequently throughout the day, depending on the severity of the disorder.
Phobias are also a common anxiety disorder. A phobia is an intense feeling of fear or anxiety that is brought about by a specific situation or type of object. Common subjects of phobias include spiders, heights, bodies of water, or crowded areas.
Whatever kind it may be, anyone with an anxiety disorder tends to experience some or most of the following symptoms:
- Feeling a constant sense of vague, impending doom or danger.
- Feeling restless or tense.
- Having an increased heart rate
- Feeling weak or fatigued
- Trouble concentrating
- Having sleep problems
- Having gastrointestinal issues
- Having a strong urge to avoid situations or issues that cause anxiety
How Does Kratom Treat Anxiety?
The effects of taking kratom at both low and high doses can help combat some of the symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Like other opioids, kratom can cause euphoria in the user, as well as feelings of sedation. Since a large part of anxiety is feeling fearful and tense, these effects can have a hugely positive impact on the mental state of someone suffering from anxiety.
The sedative effects of kratom can also help at treating sleep issues associated with anxiety disorders.
At lower doses, kratom’s stimulant effects can help treat the fatigue that people with anxiety sometimes experience. They can also help if a person is unable to stay focused because of their anxiety.
Essentially, different effects can be experienced depending on the size of the dosage you take, but the full spectrum of effects is capable of treating many of the common symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Benefits of Taking Kratom
Kratom and its effects have not been very widely researched as of yet, so the true extent of its benefits and side-effects remains unknown.
However, there are several definite benefits that using kratom can provide:
- Relief from muscle aches and other pain
- Reduced anxiety and enhanced moods
- Increased energy and focus
- Less addictive than other opioids
- Not highly processed; derived from natural substances
- Legal almost everywhere; no prescription required
Best Kratom Strains for Anxiety
Similar to cannabis, different kratom strains are similar overall but have slight variations in their effects. Here we will look at three of the most popular kratom strains used to treat anxiety and compare their effects.
Strains of kratom typically come in three different colours: green, white, and red.
Red strains usually have more sedative and pain-relieving effects, while white strains tend to have more energy-boosting and euphoric effects, although this varies from strain to strain. Green strains usually contain a combination of effects from the other two strains.
#1. Super Green Malaysian Kratom
Super Green Malaysian (SGM) is a green strain of kratom. Being a green strain, it is a good all-rounder when it comes to the balance of its effects.
It is particularly effective as a sedative and a relaxer, and also as a mood enhancer. It is also quite capable as a pain reliever and a stimulant.
Because it has a very high concentration of alkaloids, its stimulant effects can help you focus without causing you to become over-energetic and easily distracted.
Among other green strains of kratom, it is noteworthy for being particularly potent. The duration of its effects is also noted to be fairly long in comparison with other green strains.
As the name implies, SGM originates in Malaysia, where it has been grown for centuries. Traditionally, it was used for long, arduous trips through the dense jungle where energy and focus were key. Because of its noted potency and the good balance of its effects, SGM is one of the most sought-after strains of kratom.
#2. Red Indo Kratom
Also known as Red Vein Borneo kratom, Red Indo kratom is a red strain. Red Indo is most effective when it is used as a pain reliever or a stimulant.
Red Indo is similar to other red strains of kratom, although it is generally regarded as being less potent. It is not necessarily a downside; it still has significant pain-relieving effects, but the decreased potency means it doesn’t have as much of a sedative effect as other red strains.
Despite its lesser potency, it is still somewhat effective as a relaxer and a mood enhancer. However, it may not be as effective at treating pain or anxiety as some other red strains because of its lower potency.
Red Indo is grown on the eastern side of the island of Borneo, hence its alternative name.
#3. Maeng Da Kratom
Maeng Da kratom is a red strain that has been bred to be particularly effective as a stimulant, in contrast to other red strains. It also retains the strong pain-relieving effects of other red strains.
Maeng Da has also been bred so that its stimulant effects don’t cause the side-effects usually encountered when taking stimulants, such as jitters and a lack of focus.
Maeng Da was bred with the intention of creating a stimulant that would be effective even in the oppressively hot and humid conditions in Indonesia, where it originates.
The Maeng Da strain is a hybrid strain that was created via a process called grafting. Grafting involves collecting plant tissue from different strains of kratom and joining them together. The goal is to create a strain combining various positive effects from other strains.
The Maeng Da plant is one of the tallest and most resilient strains of kratom that is grown. Because of its resilience, it is also one of the most potent kratom strains commercially available.
Here, we will discuss what exactly kratom is, how it works, what it is used for, and how it works to treat anxiety disorders.
What Is Kratom?
Kratom comes from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa plant, which is a type of evergreen tree that grows in Southeast Asia.
The leaves of the kratom plant are dried and can then be eaten, smoked, or brewed in a tea. Kratom extract can also be found in a liquid form.
How Does Kratom Work?
Kratom has effects similar to those of opioids, like morphine and opium, but it itself is not an opioid. The two most active compounds in kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
These compounds bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and activate them. Activating the opioid receptors has several effects, including pain relief, a positive emotional response, and others.
What Is Kratom Used For?
Traditionally, kratom has been used by laborers to combat fatigue and increase productivity at work because, at low doses, kratom has stimulant effects. It has also been used as a treatment for addiction to opiates, similar to how methadone is used for treating heroin addiction.
In high doses, kratom stops acting as a stimulant and instead produces sedative effects. Kratom users have also said that kratom is effective at treating high blood pressure and diarrhea, and it can perhaps promote a better immune system response.
Kratom is also fairly popular as a recreational drug, particularly in the West, where it remains most unregulated and is legal to purchase almost anywhere. Because it is a simple plant extract, it is considered to be natural and safe relative to similar narcotics.
How to Take Kratom?
Kratom leaves can be eaten as they are or processed into different consumable forms.
Some of the different forms of consumable kratom include:
- Compressed tablets
Kratom leaves can be eaten fresh or eaten after being dried. Dried kratom can be brewed into a tea or crushed into a fine powder and mixed in with other drinks.
Alternatively, dried kratom can be smoked or vaporized, but ingesting it as a food item is usually more common.
Whether the method of ingestion matters when taking kratom is not something that is known. In general, the less processed the kratom is, the more potent it is, so chewing on a raw leaf will likely give you a stronger effect than taking a capsule or a tincture.
Finding the Right Dosage
Taking the correct dosage of kratom matters very much when taking it for medicinal purposes. As previously mentioned, users will experience different effects depending not only on the strain but the size of the dosage.
For example, below a certain size of dosage, kratom generates stimulant effects but offers little to no pain relief, even if it is a strain bred for pain relief.
Other effects like relaxation and pain relief only kick in at higher doses, but with higher doses, there is a greater risk of experiencing unwanted side effects.
In addition, using kratom frequently and for extended periods of time can cause users to develop a tolerance to it. Building up a tolerance to kratom will result in the user having to take a larger dose to achieve the same effects, so this is something to keep in mind when figuring out the correct dosage.
However, there are some general guidelines for adjusting the kratom dosage that you can follow. These will probably vary slightly depending on the potency of the strain you’re taking, so these should only be used as rough guidelines when first starting out.
It should be noted that these are dosage guidelines for kratom powder, which is the most widely consumed form of kratom (at least in the West). The dosage may be different when taking kratom in other forms.
- 1-2 grams – This is considered a low dosage. Taking a dosage of this size will have the effects of increased energy and greater focus.
- 3-5 grams – This is a moderate dosage. A dosage of this size will likely result in an even greater increase in energy and may also provide mild pain relief.
- 5-15 grams – Anything above 5 grams is generally considered to be a high dosage. At dosages this size, the user will experience stronger pain relief and an elevated mood. It is also around this point that the user may experience some negative side-effects.
- 15+ grams – Beyond 15 grams is considered a very high dose, potentially even dangerously high. At a dosage of this size, users can expect feelings of sedation. The risk of experiencing adverse side-effects also increases with a large dose like this.
Kratom has several benefits that may make it a worthwhile substance, but it also has other reported negative side effects and complications that may be caused by taking it.
While it is less addictive than heroin, morphine, and other narcotics that are actually derived from opium, some studies have shown that some level of addiction can occur with long-term usage.
Test subjects who took kratom for six months and then stopped reported experiencing withdrawal effects similar to some opioids.
Women who use kratom while pregnant can end up passing on a kratom dependency to their infants. Babies may be born suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
Kratom should never be taken with other prescription medications. Doing so can cause severe headaches, confusion, and a loss of the ability to communicate.
Overdosing on kratom is possible, although, in most recorded instances of people who died after taking kratom, other drugs such as benzodiazepines, fentanyl, and cocaine were also involved. Instances of overdosing on kratom alone exist but are very rare.
Additionally, there are some reports of people taking kratom contaminated with salmonella bacteria. Because the sale and production of kratom are mostly unregulated, it is more likely that it will come into contact with other potentially harmful substances before it is consumed.
These are all conditional scenarios that are not guaranteed to happen if you take kratom. Nor are any of the other side-effects guaranteed to happen, provided you don’t take too big of a dose.
However, if you do start using kratom heavily, here are the potential side-effects you should be aware of:
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Drowsiness or dizziness
- Frequent urination or constipation
- Liver damage
- Hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis in extreme cases
- Seizures, coma, and death in the most extreme cases
How to Get Kratom?
Kratom can be found in some head shops (shops that sell cannabis or cannabis paraphernalia), but it is far easier to find kratom retailers online.
Typically, online kratom products are sold as “not fit for human consumption,” although this is not strictly true. This label is only there to exploit a loophole in FDA regulations.
Despite this, most online kratom vendors are known for selling higher-quality products than what you would typically find at a head shop.
As for what vendor you should choose to buy your kratom from, there are many available to choose from depending on where you live.
We recommend you do your own research and find out for yourself what vendor you find the most reputable and whether or not they have the products you need.
Conclusion: Is Kratom Helpful to Curb Anxiety?
Kratom has been used long throughout human history for its various medicinal effects, and today continues to be used in the same way as well as for recreational purposes.
Despite its relative popularity among many individuals, it remains mostly unresearched, and a lot of what it really does remains unknown.
However, there is a large amount of anecdotal evidence suggesting that it really has tangible benefits and potentially dangerous side effects.
However, almost any commercially available medication comes with potential side effects, so this doesn’t mean it isn’t a viable treatment for a variety of conditions, including anxiety.
If taken correctly at a safe dosage, you have a much higher chance of avoiding the harmful side-effects and experiencing only the benefits.
In any case, kratom has the potential to greatly alleviate serious symptoms of anxiety disorders and is a potent natural painkiller as well. It’s definitely worth experimenting with as long as you are smart and safe about it.