Most of the studies on kratom nowadays either look to determine the possible medical applications the plant carries or understanding the associated risks from side effects. The latter, however, mostly focuses on debunking false claims made by several federal agencies in the US that want to ban the herbal leaf.
A limited amount of research remains available about the effects of kratom on brain chemistry. And more seems to be pouring in over the past year. Still, there are other organs we need to take into consideration when deciding whether or not a plant is safe for the user. One of the most significant organs in our body is undoubtedly the heart.
Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout your body, delivering nutrients and oxygen by way of the circulatory system. Your brain and other vital organs rely on that fuel to function correctly. Without an efficient amount of blood circulating regularly, it can cause medical complications to arise like a buildup of fluid in the lungs. And that could lead to congestive heart failure.
In a simplistic description of the heart and its function, it’s easy to remember that your heart works like a generator, pumping energy to keep the body going. So it’s important to keep your heart healthy.
But some drugs and natural substances can have adverse cardiovascular effects on the user. So a group of scientists recently performed and published a study that set out to determine if kratom use leads to ECG abnormalities.
Scientific Experiment Looks for Cardiovascular Abnormalities
A couple of in vitro studies have suggested that mitragynine could possibly be linked with an increased risk for cardiotoxicity. But since those experiments didn’t use actual living subjects, a group of scientists decided to conduct a study to address if cardiovascular abnormalities exist in kratom users. It deciphered the information from a total of two-hundred participants. Half of the subjects were regular kratom users, and the other half was made up of participants that don’t use kratom.
Trying to maintain similarities in both test groups, participants underwent an assessment to determine their eligibility. A semi-structured questionnaire collected the information needed by the researchers. It asked about the subject’s sociodemographic characteristics, physical health, underlying conditions, and kratom usage—if relevant. The researchers also had to perform urinary tests for illicit substances before allowing subjects to be a part of the study. Some drugs are known to raise the heart rate. So the study used rapid urine test kits to screen for the normal illegal substances found on the street. However, medications can elevate heart levels, too. For example, drugs like antidepressants, cold remedies, and even many over-the-counter decongestants can create faster heart rates for the user.
Afterward, a cross-sectional study was conducted using the chosen 200 test participants. And the test commenced over a period of nine months from May 2019 to January 2020. Each test subject underwent ECG tests while exhibiting a resting heartbeat under the supervision of a cardiologist. Then the cardiologist interpreted the findings for the test.
The Results of the Experiment
All of the subjects in the kratom group received 500 mL of brewed kratom tea purchased from the same kratom supplier. And the mitragynine content was quantified throughout the test to make sure no deviations were developing in the alkaloid content. It’s also necessary to perform those readings for future studies. Those experiments would need to maintain a similar concentration to compare the findings between each clinical trial.
After finishing the experiment, the doctors interpreted all of the results they collected. The study showed no significant readings between the two test groups. A slight deviation existed between kratom users that showed signs of sinus tachycardia, but that was the only considerable difference. Still, out of both groups, the ECG abnormalities in the non-kratom users were a bit higher than the subjects that received kratom. Only 28% of the kratom users registered for ECG irregularities. On the other hand, the detection of ECG abnormalities was present in 32% of the control group.
Those test results provide much-needed insight to kratom advocates. Several federal agencies and kratom opponents argue kratom is a dangerous, addictive substance. They assert cardiotoxicity exists as a side effect from ingesting kratom. But the experiment we’re discussing doesn’t back those claims. So apparently, kratom products don’t deliver cardiac toxicity to kratom consumers. As for the addictive assertion, another recent study proposed the opposite of that declaration, too. That test suggested kratom is not addictive. So it appears our government no longer uses scientific evidence to support its arguments.
A Slight Difference in One ECG Reading
The only slight difference in the results between the two groups was the kratom group had an eight-fold increased odds of sinus tachycardia than the control group. Sinus tachycardia is a faster heart rate in a subject. The sinoatrial node sends electrical signals at a much quicker speed. In adults, that’s characterized as a heart rate greater than 100 beats a minute (bpm). But the elevated heartbeat is not unexpected. Kratom produces psychostimulant effects. It’s the reason some people choose to drink kratom as a coffee replacement. Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine trigger the adrenergic and serotonergic receptors in the brain. In return, a stimulating effect occurs in the user. And that can cause elevated heartbeats.
But the increased heart rate in a few of the subjects doesn’t necessarily mean the consumption of kratom was the cause. There might be a list of underlying conditions as the culprit. For starters, some kratom users begin taking kratom to help with anxiety. So those types of individuals might already exhibit sinus tachycardia. In fact, the faster heartbeat could be significantly less than what the subject was accustomed to prior to taking kratom. And another argument consists of the anxiety that might develop from the test subject being part of said experiment. If they were already dealing with nervousness before the scientific research began, then those individuals most likely felt more stress becoming a part of the study. Plus, there’s no way to discredit pre-existing medical or psychiatric illnesses from the equation of the results.
The Results Bode Well for Kratom Users
The results of this study should leave every kratom user relieved. Even with an estimated daily mitragynine intake of 434.28 mg, the results of the study showed there were no significant observable differences between the ECG readings of kratom users compared to the non-kratom users in the group. And for those who might worry kratom might cause heart complications, it’s music to their ears.
One more thing of note was only one kratom user registered for sinus bradycardia compared to five of the control group. Doctors identify sinus bradycardia as a slow, regular heartbeat. Those individuals’ hearts beat less than 60 times per minute (bpm). For healthy people, it indicates good cardiovascular health. But kratom acts as a stimulant, so the heart beats per minute would tend to be higher for kratom users. Plus, other factors can drive a person’s bpm up. Things like the amount of exercise, a person’s diet, and family genetics can all play a role. Still, sinus bradycardia is not unheard of in kratom users. I drink kratom regularly and have a resting heartbeat that’s around 58 bpm. I hit the gym regularly and eat healthy, though. Those are the types of activities people should consider when taking different supplements for their health.
While the results are promising, we need to remember that all scientific discoveries rely on multiple experiments suggesting the same thing before the scientific community comes to a consensus. So we need further clinical trials done to confirm the findings of the study.