Darshan Singh from the University of Science in Malaysia has been studying kratom for several years.
A social scientist, Dr. Singh has found kratom to increase social functioning, lower withdrawal symptoms, and lower risk behaviors among opaite addicts in Malaysia.
While Dr. Singh says kratom can cause an addiction similar to that of coffee, many of the rare reports of liver problems, hair loss, mental issues, and severe addiction have been unique to the United States.
The reason could be that kratom grows naturally in Malaysia, and consumers are drinking tea from local kratom leaves. Most US consumers buy kratom shipped from Indonesia, which can sometimes be adulterated along the supply chain.
“When it goes into America, people are actually adulterating kratom products [with] all kind of funny, funny substances. Harmful substances,” Dr. Singh told Kratom Science. “And then when you start using it…for the first one month you find, ‘Oh it is good! It is really helping me!’ But after one month you start developing all kind of medical problems. And then you go to the hospital in America to the emergency room, and the doctor there says ‘This is interesting. Let’s report about kratom. Kratom can cause liver problems. Kratom can cause psychosis. Kratom can cause mental health problems.’ It’s ridiculous! We don’t get to see all this happening in Malaysia.”
“I was a bit skeptical, so therefore I decided to actually do a blood test. And I found that kratom does not impact liver parameters,” said Dr. Singh. “I am a bit surprised why Americans who use kratom develop all kind of bizarre liver-related disorders.”
Hair loss has also been very rarely reported by kratom consumers as a side effect. Some have found biotin, omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, iron, and multivitamins have helped them curb this problem. It’s not known why this occurs in rare cases, or if it’s caused by kratom at all. Dr. Singh comments: “I’ve been working with kratom users who have been using kratom for 40 years, 50 years. I see they have a lot of hair on their head. I’ve not seen people who said ‘My hair is falling from kratom’. No such thing. But the reason for the hair loss could be the adulterated kratom products.”
Since kratom is not yet regulated in the US, seasoned kratom consumers know that they have to search to find a good vendor selling pure kratom.
“That is why the American Kratom Association is actually coming up with this proper kratom act, so people get to use high quality or genuine kratom products,” Dr. Singh said of the Kratom Consumer Protection Act. If passed, this measure championed by the AKA would require all US vendors to test and label kratom products.