Toxic or Healthful?
Mitragyna Speciosa (see: Wikipedia), which is commonly called as Kratom1 , from the coffee family, is a tropical herb that grows predominantly in the Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Sumatra. Kratom contains a chemical called Mitragynine (see: Wikipedia)2 . It serves like a medicine drug such as codeine and morphine, used to relieve pain. The traditional herb is said to possess psychoactive properties due to the alkaloid compounds such Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG).
There are over 20 active chemicals3 in the leaves including some compounds that have analgesic and opioid-like effects. The main active ingredients are:
- 7-hydroxy mitragynine
Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine are the main chemicals that can produce analgesic effects4 like codeine, and they may also demonstrate some anti-inflammatory properties. Speciociliatine, Pynantheine, and Speciogynine also have some analgesic effects and can also influence behavior and the function of smooth muscles in animals.
There are different strains of Kratom (see: Guidance PA Website) mostly based on their originating source. Each one has some variation in the effects that people claim to experience when they use it. Of these strains, those that come from leaves with a red vein have a reputation for higher potency. In the traditional way to categorize kratom, the color refers to the vein on the leaf and indicates how mature the leaves are at the time of harvest. Red is known for having the most time to mature, while white has the shortest time, and green is in the middle.
When you do your research on the herb, you will come to realise that there is an much controversy for and against its use, as the current food vs McKibble and McCarb debate. You will realise that very little research in support of the herb exist5 . Sounds familiar does it not. Currently, this substance is not approved for any use by the US FDA because of “limited research and potential risks of addiction and dependence“6 . There are many more anecdotal testimonials from pet parents claiming that the herb helps them manage anxiety, depression, pain, and stress, for themselves as well as their pets.
Is Kratom An Opioid?
Kratom is a herbal remedy with several chemical compounds. The primary ingredients listed above are alkaloid substances that, like other opioids, can link to mu-type brain receptors and produce effects like pain relief, sedation, and a sense of pleasure. The most active substances are Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine.
What Does Kratom Do?
Perhaps because there is a (yet to be fully discovered and understood) combination of chemicals in Kratom, it can act in different ways. Some of the actions depend on the dose level.
- It can provide analgesia or pain relief.
- It can also behave as a cough suppressant in animals.
- In low doses, it functions as a stimulant by acting on adenosine, adrenergic, and serotonin receptors in the brain.
- In higher doses, it performs as a sedative by acting against mu, kappa, and delta-opioid receptors in the brain.
When Kratom acts on the Opiate receptors, specifically when 7-hydroxymitragynine acts on mu receptors7 , there is the release of endorphins, dynorphins, and enkephalins. These neurotransmitters are responsible for the suppression of pain signals along the pain pathway. They also increase the pain nerve endings stimulation threshold. When signals are not generated and even when they are generated, they are suppressed; pain is not felt by the central nervous system. The release of dopamine and serotonin play an additional role in making one feel better.
What Are the Potential Benefits of Kratom?
There are many unsubstantiated or anecdotal claims as to the effects of taking Kratom. Scientific support for reported benefits in people is still limited. In animals, studies suggest that this substance could help with a number of conditions.
If you’ve ever dealt with a dog that goes crazy when you leave them alone, you understand that our mutts, pups, nobles and masters can suffer from anxiety just like we can. As an opioid, Kratom might be able to stimulate energy and help to calm your pet’s nerves.
People in Southeast Asia have been using Kratom for pain relief for many years, and animal studies suggest that this herb may provide similar effects in dogs. These results could be good news for dogs suffering from arthritis pain. Some pet parents that give Kratom to their arthritic furry friends report happier, more active pups.
Chronic Pain Relief
Because the alkaloid drugs in Kratom act on the mu-type opioid receptors to create analgesia, the herb could be useful to help relieve pain. In an informal research trial, 62 out of 66 dogs that received Kratom to treat their pain showed noticeable improvements. For dogs with ongoing aches and soreness, this herb might provide comfort.
There is conflicting information about the effectiveness of Kratom to treat seizures. On the one hand, some individuals with pets that suffer from epilepsy or other conditions that cause seizures report improvement after taking Kratom. Some experience no more seizures while others have only minor episodes. However, according to the American Psychiatric Association and other sources, there are also cases of Kratom-induced seizures in people. Some of the trigger events occurred when the patient combined this herb with other substances.
One reason that people native to the growth area of Kratom chew on the leaves is to increase their energy and appetite. As a stimulant, this substance will likely boost your pet’s activity level and desire to eat. Just remember, what goes up must come down. If you stop giving your pet Kratom, it can lead to a decreased appetite or anorexia.
At low to moderate doses, Kratom acts as a mild stimulant. The chemicals react with brain receptors8 to stimulate alertness and energy levels.
Kratom for pets?
Huumans use Kratom in tea, take it in capsules, or as a powder. What about dogs and cats? This herb has a bitter taste, and your mutts, pups, nobles, masters and muggles is likely to spit it out unless you make it more interesting to him.
- Sugarless peanut butter – add Kratom to some sugar-free peanut butter to mask the bitter taste. Most pups go crazy for this sandwich spread, so they’ll see it as a treat.
- Add to treats – mix a small amount of Kratom powder with a special treat like hamburger or beef bits.
- With fruit – puree some apples or get a little steamed pumpkin and mix the Kratom in it.
- Mix it with beef bone broth – dogs love beef broth. The amount of kratom you need won’t affect the flavor.
- Mix it with their dinner – If you use moist food, you can stir the powder right into their food.
- Rub it on their gums – Some owners rub a Kratom solution on their canine pal’s gums. The surface vessels in the mucous membranes will absorb the liquid quickly. This can help when pets are in extreme pain.
Are there Dosage Guidelines?
There are no dosing guidelines for dogs or cats, so finding the right amount involves some trial and error. Start small as higher dosages can have negative side effects including:
- Liver damage
Based on our research, some pro-veterinarians and owners use a Kratom calculator for human dosages to determine how much to give their pooches based on weight.
Include Probiotics in the Diet
Adding probiotics when you give Kratom to your pet can support the digestion of the alkaloid compounds.
Is Kratom Toxic To Dogs or Cats?
A review of studies9 on the effects of Kratom in humans and animals suggests that Kratom is minimally toxic10 . At very high doses, it can damage the liver and cause seizures, but current research does not show toxic effects at lower levels11 . Keep in mind that most pharmacologic and therapeutic evidence about kratom comes from anecdotal reports and patient experiences. More than half of the available scientific literature on kratom has been published since 2012, and there are few, if any, controlled clinical trial results that have been published.
Our Final Thoughts On Kratom For Dogs and Cats
For pet parents seeking herbal alternatives to traditional pain and anxiety medications, there’s some promising information about Kratom. A recently published review of 57 years of international scientific evidence, led by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and the University of British Columbia, may help reduce misconceptions about kratom and restore its potential as a public health tool that deserves more research. People who use this substance to help their canine companions report benefits that include increased energy, less anxiety, and noticeable pain relief. However, there’s also some concerning information about this herbal supplement, and using it does not come risk-free. If you want to experiment with Kratom, talk to your veterinarian first and use extreme caution.
As with most conditions, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.
Articles and Videos
Research and References
- 1.Fluyau D, Revadigar N. Biochemical Benefits, Diagnosis, and Clinical Risks Evaluation of Kratom. Front Psychiatry. 2017;8:62. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00062
- 2.Jansen K, Prast C. Psychoactive properties of mitragynine (kratom). J Psychoactive Drugs. 1988;20(4):455-457. doi:10.1080/02791072.1988.10472519
- 3.Prozialeck WC, Jateen KJ, Shridhar VA. Pharmacology of Kratom: An Emerging Botanical Agent With Stimulant, Analgesic and Opioid-Like Effects . JAOA. 2012;112(2012):1. https://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2094342.
- 4.Kruegel A, Uprety R, Grinnell S, et al. 7-Hydroxymitragynine Is an Active Metabolite of Mitragynine and a Key Mediator of Its Analgesic Effects. ACS Cent Sci. 2019;5(6):992-1001. doi:10.1021/acscentsci.9b00141
- 5.Veltri C, Grundmann O. Current perspectives on the impact of Kratom use. Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2019;10:23-31. doi:10.2147/SAR.S164261
- 6.Prozialeck W. Update on the Pharmacology and Legal Status of Kratom. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2016;116(12):802-809. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2016.156
- 7.Babu K, McCurdy C, Boyer E. Opioid receptors and legal highs: Salvia divinorum and Kratom. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2008;46(2):146-152. doi:10.1080/15563650701241795
- 8.Swogger MT, Walsh Z. Kratom use and mental health: A systematic review. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. February 2018:134-140. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.10.012
- 9.Hassan Z, Muzaimi M, Navaratnam V, et al. From Kratom to mitragynine and its derivatives: physiological and behavioural effects related to use, abuse, and addiction. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013;37(2):138-151. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.11.012
- 10.Raffa RB, Beckett JR, Brahmbhatt VN, et al. Orally Active Opioid Compounds from a Non-Poppy Source. J Med Chem. April 2013:4840-4848. doi:10.1021/jm400143z
- 11.Sabetghadam A, Ramanathan S, Sasidharan S, Mansor S. Subchronic exposure to mitragynine, the principal alkaloid of Mitragyna speciosa, in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;146(3):815-823. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.02.008