Natural remedies and herbal supplements are growing popular due to their perceived health benefits, and kratom is among the most popular supplements. According to statistics, 1.3% of American adults (approximately two million people) take kratom for its purported therapeutic effects.
Kratom consumers can buy kratom products online from reputable kratom vendors like Slo Kratom. According to a 2019 report, kratom consumption is trendy among expectant mothers. This might make you wonder whether there are any benefits in taking kratom during pregnancy and is it safe? Keep reading to learn all you need to know.
What Is Kratom?
Also known as mitragyna speciosa, kratom is an herbal tree that grows and thrives in tropical regions of Southeast Asia. Indigenous communities use kratom leaves to fight fatigue, improve mood, and during their religious ceremonies.
Researchers first became interested in kratom as a potential treatment for opioid withdrawal from the mid to the late 2000s. After this period, the herb made it into the mainstream American herbal market as an herbal supplement with purported health benefits.
Kratom is rich in alkaloids (contains approximately 20 alkaloids), responsible for its effects on the body and the brain. The herb is available in different strains, and the main distinguishing factor among its strains is leaf venation color; hence white, green, and red kratom strains. Each kratom strain features a purported dominant therapeutic benefit, including anxiolytic, analgesic, and stimulant effects.
Besides leaf venation, kratom experts also classify the herb according to specific counties of origin. Therefore, you can find kratom strains like Red Malay kratom and White Bali kratom within the market. The herb is also available in various consumable forms, including teas, capsules, and powders.
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Reasons Why Pregnant Women May Use Kratom
Despite kratom’s considerable prevalence within American society, empirical research on the herb is scarce. Most purported kratom benefits come from anecdotal evidence shared by self-reporting kratom users.
These are the primary reasons some women take kratom during pregnancy:
- Pain Relief
Women experience pregnancy differently, but most experience aches and discomfort, especially as the pregnancy advances. However, one study on kratom shows that mitragynine, the primary kratom alkaloid, features antinociceptive properties that block pain processing in the brain, limiting pain perception. Some women may opt to use kratom to alleviate the said typical discomfort associated with pregnancy.
- Inducing Sleep
Sleep can also be elusive during pregnancy, especially for belly and side sleepers who have to adjust to either sleeping on their backs or right side. Some women also experience pregnancy-induced insomnia, especially in the third trimester, where they cannot sleep, even with good sleeping hygiene and tools like pregnancy pillows.
However, most kratom strains feature sedative effects and can induce sleep to counter insomnia.
- Anxiety Relief
Anxiety elevation is yet another issue that women may experience during pregnancy, and statistics show that one in ten pregnant women may experience anxiety and panic attacks. Women with a history of mood and anxiety disorders have a higher risk of experiencing elevated anxiety during pregnancy.
Anxiety is dangerous to pregnant women as it may cause pre-eclampsia (a life-threatening pregnancy-induced blood pressure condition). However, one study on kratom and anxiety in zebrafish showed that kratom features strong anxiolytic effects, lowering anxiety levels.
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- Opioid Withdrawal
Kratom gained traction in research circles due to its immense potential for treating opioid withdrawal. Kratom is an atypical opioid, meaning that it only binds partially to mu and delta-opioid receptors found in the body’s opioid system.
The partial binding characteristic means that kratom does not have as strong an effect on the brain as opioids like morphine and heroin that bind fully. Therefore, kratom has a lower capacity to cause dependency than other opioids. Given the herb’s milder effects, pregnant women battling opioid addiction may opt to self-diagnose their dependency with kratom, hoping to reduce harm to the fetus.
Does Kratom Cause Birth Defects?
There is no existing research on kratom’s effect on pregnancy. Therefore, the herb’s effect on the fetus, congenital disability development possibility, and possible extent of such defects remain unknown.
However, one recent survey collected from hospital data on pregnant women taking kratom shows that exposure to maternal kratom causes neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
Kratom may not directly cause congenital disabilities. However, one statistical survey on preventable congenital disabilities shows that 95% of babies that develop NAS at birth may experience congenital disabilities like club feet and cleft lips.
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Is It Safe To Take Kratom During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a critical phase, and medical practitioners generally urge expectant mothers not to take any drugs, including over-the-counter medicines like aspirin and supplements. Kratom is no exception to the rule, especially given that there is no reliable research on its effect on pregnancy.
Therefore, consult your physician if you want to take kratom and other herbal medicines and supplements during pregnancy. Also inform your physician if you were taking kratom before learning that you are pregnant, so they can advise whether and how to wean you out of it.
Kratom may be generally harmless, but you cannot be too careful when it comes to protecting the wellbeing of your unborn child. Therefore, your best option is to seek your doctor’s counsel and get a guide to Kratom strains before taking kratom during pregnancy.