How Hard is Kratom on the Liver?

Updated on
Medically reviewed by Jacci Newel M.D., M.S.

Is Kratom Bad for Your Liver? Let’s Find Out

Kratom, made from the tree scientifically known as Mitragyna Speciosa, is a Southeast Asian botanical, traditionally used for therapeutic and recreational purposes. In recent years, Kratom has gained increasing popularity in the United States as a health and wellness aid, as well as a recreational supplement.

Some users claim that Kratom alleviates pain and helps with stress, sleep, mood, and other issues. While research is ongoing, several studies have provided evidence that backs up what millions of consumers have been saying about this plant for decades.

However, there is currently limited clinical research regarding these claims, and some scientists have raised concerns about the possible adverse effects.

One such effect that consumers are mindful about, is the possibility that Kratom is hard on the liver. In this guide we take a deeper look at how Kratom is metabolized, its possible impact on the liver, and what you as a consumer need to know.

The Importance of the Liver When Taking Any Supplement, Including Kratom

The liver is a vital organ responsible for a variety of life-sustaining functions. It is the largest internal organ in the human body and has many important roles to help keep us healthy. This article will discuss the role of the liver and its importance regarding the processing of supplements, drugs, and Kratom.

What Does the Liver do, Exactly?

The liver is an important digestive organ located under the diaphragm on the right side of the abdomen. It helps the body process nutrients, such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It also stores glycogen, which is a source of glucose for energy. The liver breaks down toxins, such as drugs and alcohol, and also produces bile, which helps the body break down and absorb fat.

The liver is also responsible for many metabolic processes and plays a vital role in how the body functions. It helps regulate blood sugar levels by storing and releasing glucose into the bloodstream, and it produces cholesterol, which is necessary for creating hormones and cell membranes. Additionally, the liver is responsible for producing clotting factors which help stop bleeding and also helps synthesize vitamins.

The liver plays a key role in protecting the body from disease and illness. It produces antibodies and immune proteins that protect the body from infection. In addition, it helps detoxify the blood and remove potentially harmful substances. It also plays a role in regulating blood pressure and ensures that essential vitamins and minerals are delivered to various parts of the body. In addition, the liver helps break down and process the nutrients from food, supplements, and fluids in the intestines.

Why Keeping Your Liver Healthy is Important for Kratom Users

The liver is one of the most important organs in the human body. It plays an essential role in metabolism, toxin elimination, and digestion. A healthy liver is able to break down and neutralize essential substances, drugs, and toxins such as alcohol. However, if the liver becomes overwhelmed or overworked, it can become damaged or inflamed. This can lead to serious illnesses and symptoms such as cirrhosis, jaundice, and liver failure. Because of this, it is important to understand how Kratom may affect the liver.

Without a healthy liver, the body would not be able to properly absorb and process nutrients, remove toxins and other impurities, help in digestion, and produce cells and hormones. Any form of liver disease can lead to serious health problems such as jaundice, anemia, or cirrhosis. Long-term liver damage can lead to liver failure, which can be fatal.

So, Does Kratom Damage the Liver?

When taken in low to moderate doses, Kratom is generally considered safe; however, some users may unknowingly overdose on the substance, abuse Kratom, or utilize Kratom while taking other medications or alcohol, which can lead to potential liver damage.

The active components in Kratom, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine (among many other others), bind to opioid receptors in the brain and peripheral tissues, but may also be metabolized by the liver. High levels of Kratom can lead to reduced levels of transaminase enzymes in the liver, which can be an indicator of liver toxicity. The same can be said about using Tylenol daily or having a couple beers after work.

What Does the Science and Research Say About Kratom and Liver Damage?

The top study on Kratom’s effects on the liver is a meta-analysis that was released in 2020.

In addition to the 7 instances reported by the Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network, 25 cases found in FDA databases, and 27 cases found in online user forums, this study looked at 26 case reports and abstracts.

The NIH concluded that even though there is a possibility of liver damage from Kratom usage, the great majority of users won’t show any symptoms of liver damage.

Kratom Has Rarely Been Linked to Hepatoxicity (Liver Damage)

Kratom has been associated with a few cases of hepatotoxicity, however, it seems that these cases are few and far between. In the US alone it is estimated that around 15 million people consume Kratom, the vast majority of which do so regularly without any serious side effects.

Similarly, tens of millions of individuals around the world have used Kratom for centuries without any major cause for alarm.

That said, according to the National Library of Medicine, there have been ‘rare’ instances of reported liver damage for ‘chronic users’, with research stating, “Chronic use of Kratom recreationally has been associated with rare instances of acute liver injury. The onset of injury is usually within 1 to 8 weeks of starting regular use of Kratom powder or tablets, with symptoms of fatigue, nausea, pruritus, and dark urine followed by jaundice.”

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (2012), individuals experiencing hepatoxicity associated with (but not proven to be caused by) Kratom generally recover once they stop taking the supplement.

How to Keep Your Liver Healthy While Using Kratom

1. Buy Trusted Products that Are 3rd Party Lab Tested for Purity

Cheap Kratom products may be adulterated with other compounds that could harm the liver. Many unethical manufacturers use various chemicals to increase the effects of the plant. Unfortunately, these substances are not regulated and could potentially be toxic.

The American Kratom Association has taken steps to ensure that Kratom products sold in the United States are safe and free from contaminants. The organization has implemented the Good Manufacturing Practices program, which evaluates Kratom products for potency, safety, and standardization.

2. Moderate Your Use and Don’t Abuse Kratom

Anything is bad for you in high doses. Drinking too much water can kill you, taking too many Tylenol can damage your liver, the glass of wine you have at the end of a long day causes liver damage.

Point is, Kratom can and has been used safely by tens of millions of individuals for centuries. Follow best practices with dosing and use and you’ll likely be fine.

3. Do NOT Mix Kratom with Alcohol, Drugs, or Prescription Medication

Many medications and several classes of drugs (as well as alcohol), are all processed by the liver. Taking more than one of these substances at the same time can put increased stress on the liver, causing damage.

Similarly, some of these substances prevent liver enzymes from breaking down harmful byproducts, or from processing various compounds, resulting in an increased blood concentration of those compounds, leading to further damage.

Common Drugs and Medications Known to Harm the Liver When Taken with Kratom

*This is NOT an exhaustive list. Always consult with your doctor before starting Kratom

  • Amitriptyline
  • Alcohol
  • Azathioprine
  • Clomipramine
  • Codeine
  • Debrisoquine
  • Desipramine
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Encainide
  • Flecainide
  • Fluoxetine
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Imipramine
  • Metoprolol
  • Methotrexate
  • Mianserin
  • Nortriptyline
  • Paroxetine
  • Perhexilene
  • Phenformin
  • Propafenone
  • Propranolol
  • Sparteine
  • Timolol
  • Tolterodine
  • Venlafaxine
  • Zuclopenthixol

4. Make Good Lifestyle Choices

To keep the liver healthy, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods can help keep the liver functioning properly. It is also important to get enough exercise and avoid alcohol and smoking. If you have a family history of liver disease, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking any medication.

Is Kratom Hard on the Liver: Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Kratom hasn’t been scientifically proven to be harmless to the liver in large doses. But for the vast majority of users, it is largely considered to be safe when used responsibly.

There is limited evidence that Kratom may increase the risk of liver damage in some cases, such as when consumed with other drugs or medications, or if an individual has an underlying medical condition.

If you are taking Kratom, it is important to follow the instructions on the label carefully and be aware of any potential side effects. It is also wise to purchase your Kratom from a reputable source, such as a member of the American Kratom Association, to ensure that the product is safe and free from contaminants.

The liver is a vital organ in the body that plays an essential role in our overall health and well-being. It helps regulate blood sugar, metabolize nutrients and toxins, and produce key proteins, hormones, and vitamins that are vital for the body’s proper functioning. It is important to ensure that the liver remains healthy and functioning properly in order to maintain good health.

Written by Daniel Recardo

Founder of Kratom IQ; a self-improvement junkie and Kratom enthusiast. I started this website in 2015 to help people avoid the common pitfalls and mistakes with Mitragyna Speciosa, and ultimately get the most out of this amazing plant. Learn More...

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