Does kratom damage your liver? Absolutely. Kratom is a tropical plant (Mitragyna speciosa) that was originally grown in Southeast Asia. Its leaves contain compounds that can produce mind-altering or psychotropic side effects when abused. Because kratom is legal at the federal level in the United States, many people can easily purchase it online. It’s often sold as a green powder in packets labeled “jewelry cleaner” or “not for human consumption.” Despite the belief that it’s safe because it’s technically legal, kratom liver toxicity is just one of the many side effects that users may experience as a result of abuse. Banyan Boca mental health explores these side effects and the amount of danger they pose to those who experience them.
What Is the Role of the Liver?
The role of the liver is to regulate chemical levels in your blood and excrete something called bile, which helps carry waste from the liver. All of the blood that leaves the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver then processes and breaks down this blood, balancing and creating nutrients that metabolize drugs into forms that are easier for the body to use.
Some other common functions of the liver include:
- Production of bile, which helps carry waste from your liver and break down fats in the small intestine for digestion
- Production of proteins for blood plasma
- Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through your body
- Conversion of excess glucose into glycogen for storage (glycogen can later be converted back to glucose for energy) and to balance and make glucose as needed
- Regulation of blood levels of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins
- Clearing drugs and other toxic substances from your blood
- Blood clotting
- Fighting infections by developing immunity and removing bacteria from the bloodstream
As a rehab in Boca Raton, Florida, we’re familiar with the effects of drugs on the liver. When the liver is heavily impacted, other areas of the body begin to suffer. As with other drugs, kratom and liver problems go hand in hand as a result of long-term use.
What Is Kratom Liver Toxicity?
Sold online and in smoke shops, in small doses, kratom acts as a stimulant, and in high doses, it produces opioid-like side effects. This makes it a popular substance of abuse. Among its many dangers is liver toxicity. Kratom and liver toxicity have recently become a more common topic. While there was a lot of back and forth about the risks of kratom abuse, its impact on the liver has confirmed this drug’s dangers.
Kratom liver toxicity occurs when someone takes too much kratom to the point where their liver is unable to do its job. Despite being a legal herbal supplement, the truth of the matter is that kratom is a toxin, which means that it can cause damage to both the liver and kidneys when taken in high doses. If you or someone you know is taking kratom, being able to recognize the signs of kratom liver damage can increase the likelihood of early detection and treatment.
Kratom Effects on the Liver
One study noted that a 47-year-old male with no history of drug use experienced symptoms of lethargy, abnormal liver tests, and pruritis after drinking kratom tea for 21 days. He was ultimately diagnosed with drug-induced liver disease as a result.1 Another study found that acute hepatitis can even be induced by drinking kratom herbal tea regularly.2 Kratom-induced liver toxicity usually occurs gradually in regular users, causing more serious symptoms as the person’s condition worsens.
The most common kratom liver effects include dark urine, toxicity, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Toxicity occurs when the liver is flooded with more drugs than it can metabolize, causing it to shut down.
Other kratom liver damage symptoms include:
- Abdominal swelling
- Abdominal pain
These symptoms can reappear if the person starts taking kratom again after they’ve stopped. Those who experience negative kratom liver effects should avoid it at all costs.
Does Kratom Liver Toxicity Go Away?
Yes, kratom liver toxicity does go away when the person stops taking kratom. However, those who experience liver problems from taking kratom should not take it again after they’ve stopped. In the first study we talked about earlier, the man experienced the same symptoms immediately after he started taking kratom again. If you’ve suffered from liver problems as a result of using this herbal supplement, we advise that you stop taking it immediately (if you haven’t already) and avoid it in the future.
Does Kratom Show Up on a Drug Test?
This question of whether or not kratom shows up on a drug test has a rather complicated answer.
The typical purpose of traditional drug testing, such as urine, blood, and saliva tests, is to identify specific drugs like opiates, cocaine, marijuana, and amphetamines. Kratom, however, contains alkaloids that are distinct from those found in these drugs, and kratom alkaloids are typically not detected in routine drug testing.
To specifically identify the presence of kratom alkaloids in the system, however, specialist tests can be carried out. These tests are more expensive and less frequently utilized, and they are not a part of standard drug tests. It's important to remember that the legality of kratom differs between nations and regions. Kratom may be illegal but regulated in some regions, such as some US states, while it may be lawful in others. This makes it important to stay informed not only about the effects of what you put into your body but their legality as well.
Is Kratom Addictive?
In some cases, yes. Because it produces side effects similar to other addictive drugs – such as cocaine and opioids – those who begin abusing kratom are at risk of developing an addiction as well. As a result, some users who stop using kratom claim to experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings, which raises the possibility of addiction.
Although some specialists admit that kratom has the potential to become addictive, it's crucial to remember that not all users experience severe withdrawal symptoms or develop addictive habits. The likelihood of addiction may be influenced by elements like dose, usage frequency, and personal vulnerability. It is also difficult to make firm judgments because research on kratom addiction is few and frequently inconclusive.
There’s also no telling what kratom can do to your psychological health. If you’ve begun using kratom and find yourself struggling to quit, our Boca Raton mental health facilities can help. We offer dual diagnosis treatment and other services to assist individuals with drug and alcohol use disorders recover from the physical and mental impact of addiction. This is accentuated by the many offerings of Boca behavioral health programs available to our patients.
American Journal of Therapeutics - N-Acetylcysteine for Acute Hepatitis Induced by Kratom Herbal Tea