Patient Perspective: Kratom for Pain Relief

I recently talked with contributor Sarah Hackley about my personal experience with kratom. If you've never heard of this natural supplement, you're not alone. It's become a hot topic as the DEA tried to ban its use as of September 30, 2016. However, at the eleventh hour the ban was postponed to allow for public comment through December.

I urge anyone who wants to comment, please follow this link:

I found a community member who wanted to share his/her experience with using kratom to relieve migraine pain. This is an anonymous interview, but the comments are very important as many are trying to gather as much information about this currently unregulated drug. Here is our conversation:

How old were you when Migraine started for you?

I was a teenager when I first started experiencing migraine attacks, but I was in my twenties before I had an accurate diagnosis.

How often do you currently get them, and how long do they last?

My attacks come one to four times a week, depending on the weather and my level of activity. The last two weeks have been pretty intense, with frequent attacks lasting one to three days each.

Have you tried any of these treatments and have they helped you? Please describe.

  • Triptans- I’ve tried nearly all the triptans, including injections and nasal spray. Sadly, none seems to work for me. They either do nothing or they put the migraine on hold, only to come back two to four hours later stronger and less resistant to treatment.
  • Preventatives- I’ve tried multiple preventatives over the years, including SSRIs, beta-blockers, muscle relaxers, and anti-seizure medications. None had any effect.
  • Botox & Nerve Blocks- I have not tried Botox, as research seems to suggest it wouldn’t be significantly helpful for my particular kind of migraine disease. I have had a nerve block, which provided temporary relief of about eight hours.
  • DHE- I cannot take DHE. I am allergic to it. The one time I tried, I nearly lost consciousness.
  • What about alternative methods? I practice meditation and yoga, and take supplements approved by my neurologist.
  • Acupuncture/ Acupressure – I have not tried either of these yet, as I found them cost prohibitive in my area.
  • Surgery- No
  • Allergy Doctor/ Diet/ Foods- I have to avoid foods with added folic acid, as I can’t adequately digest it. I also try to avoid corn and cheese, as I seem to have a sensitivity to them, but that isn’t easy, and I often slip.

How did you hear about kratom? How long ago was that?

A very dear friend introduced me to kratom about a year ago.

What research did you do before trying it?

I looked up what it was, how it works, and where it comes from originally and in the U.S. I also read a number of people’s personal experiences online.

Tell me how you decided which strains to try?

Again, I did quite a bit of research on the different types of strains and their effects, and chose the ones with the most pain relieving qualities.

Where or how did you purchase it?

Up until September 30, it was widely available in my area. I purchased it as several places, including a smoke shop and an alternative bookstore.

How do you prefer to ingest kratom?

I prefer capsules. The liquid has a strong taste, and it doesn’t seem to work any faster for me.

What dose did you use?

I generally took two capsules to start with, and then waited to see how it felt.

After consuming kratom, how long does it take for you to feel any effects or relief?

I generally felt less pain and less anxiety within an hour or so, which is typical for most pills.

Describe the feeling when it starts to kick in.

It’s similar to a beta blocker or anti-anxiety drug, but with pain relieving properties. My heart rate, which always races when I’m in pain and/or experiencing anxiety, slows and the pain diminishes. It’s very subtle and mellow, not something I would describe as a “high” at all.

Have you taken an opioid before? If so, how does the feeling of kratom compare?

I have been given opioids in the past as part of my migraine treatment. Kratom feels similar, but less intense and it doesn’t make me itch. It also, seems to actually affect the migraine pain itself, which opioids don’t always do (they typically just make me care less than I hurt).

How did it effect your migraine while you were feeling the kratom?

Migraine pain and accompanying symptoms, especially allodynia, are diminished.

When the effects of kratom wore off, did your pain level change? How?

Generally, my pain levels remained the same, which meant – in my opinion – that kratom helped diminish the effects of each particular attack.

How long did you use kratom?

Sporadically, for about a year.

Would you suggest others in chronic pain to try kratom?


Any other input you want to share?

There are thousands and thousands of citizens across the U.S. who use Kratom regularly for medicinal purposes. If we keep advocating, I expect the DEA will never institute a ban.

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