Kratom is not an opiate, but kratom alkaloids belong to the opioid family. Opioids that occur naturally in the body, like endorphins and dynorphins, are known as endogenous opioids. Manufactured opiates are also known as synthetic opioids. Kratom is neither – an exogenous but natural opioid source.
Kratom’s interaction with opioid receptor cells is the key to its range of effects. Whereas synthetic opioids will bind immediately to mu and kappa opioid receptors, kratom will first bind with the delta opioid receptor.
This mechanism of action makes it much more difficult to become addicted to kratom, compared to synthetic opiates. And because treatment with kratom requires the ingestion of plant matter, it isn’t easy to overdose.
So while kratom isn’t an opiate, it could be the perfect replacement for opiates. And kratom is frequently used by opiate addicts, either as a replacement medicine, or to ease withdrawal symptoms when quitting.
For more information on using kratom as a replacement for opiates, see our dosage guide.