How Long Does Kratom Last?
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) does not designate kratom as a controlled substance, but it has been recognized by the DEA as a substance of concern. According to the information provided by the DEA, when consumed in low doses, the substance in the leaves has stimulant-like properties, whereas at higher doses, the substance has properties that simulate the actions of opiate drugs, particularly pain-relieving or analgesic properties.
The DEA is unable to estimate the extent to which kratom is used in the United States, but the drug does have a sort of cult-like following. There are even several groups, including the American Kratom Association that are actively involved in garnering support for the medicinal use of the substance, particularly for its pain-relieving qualities and its potential usefulness in addressing withdrawal symptoms from narcotic drugs like heroin.
The textbook Kratom and Other Mitragynines: The Chemistry and Pharmacology of Opioids reports that the major ingredient in kratom is the alkaloid substance mitragynine. Again, when taken at lower doses, it has effects similar to central nervous system stimulants like caffeine and methylphenidate (the active ingredient in drugs like Ritalin), and at higher doses, it produces euphoria, sedation, and analgesic (pain-relieving) effects. It may also have some unwanted side effects, such as sweating, overheating, reduced appetite, frequent urination, diarrhea, nausea, or weight loss.
Most of the research studies investigating the long-term effects of the drug are based on case studies, which are reports of a single instance of long-term use of the drug. Case studies are not considered to be as effective evidence as studies that use groups of individuals and look at the overall effect of the drug. However, case studies have suggested that chronic use of the drug may produce physical dependence (the development of withdrawal symptoms when one stops using the drug), and there may be long-term issues that can include mood swings, aggression, hallucinations, and even seizures.
How Long Does Kratom (Mitragynine) Remain in the Body?
According to the sources cited above, the effects of mitragynine are dose-dependent. Taking larger amounts of the substance will result in effects that can last for several hours.
Since the drug is not a formal medicinal drug, there are no specific guidelines for medicinal use. It has been suggested that the half-life of mitragynine is probably around 24 hours in most individuals. The half-life of the drug is the amount of time that it takes a person’s metabolism, particularly the liver, to break down the drug and reduce it by half its concentration in the person’s system. It is generally considered that in order to completely eliminate a drug from the body under most conditions, it takes about 5–6 half-lives; however, this is a general figure, and the actual elimination of any drug in any single individual is dependent on numerous factors. Thus, given this information, it would take about 5–6 days to totally eliminate the drug from the system.
The detectability of the drug in a person’s system can be quite variable, depending on numerous issues. Some sources suggest that the drug remains in the system from two to five days. Chronic users of the drug will have longer windows of detectability.
Testing for Kratom
One of the factors that makes the understanding of how long kratom use can be detected in a person’s system complicated is the fact that the drug is not normally tested for in most drug panels. Even sophisticated testing methods used for high-priority jobs may not screen for the presence of mitragynine or its metabolites (substances produced as a result of the drug being broken down) because it is not a significant or popular drug of abuse.
Even though most drug screenings probably will not directly detect the presence of mitragynine, there are specialized detection tests, such as a 10-panel drug test for kratom and its metabolites, that can be employed. Using these tests, the drug could be detected in urine for up to seven days.
At the time of this writing, the use of saliva tests, blood tests, and hair follicle tests to detect the substances in kratom does not appear to be common practice. Therefore, in the vast majority of cases where a person is being tested for the presence of drugs, the active ingredients in kratom will most likely not be detected.
For those individuals who take the specialized 10-panel screen, there are several variables that can influence the length of time the drug can be detected in the system.
- Body weight is an important variable that can influence the length of time a drug remains in a person’s system. As a general rule of thumb, because mitragynine is fat-soluble, it will remain in the systems of heavier individuals longer than it will remain in the systems of individuals with less body fat.
- Because it appears that the effects of the drug are dose-dependent, the amount of drug a person uses can affect the time it remains in the system.
- Age is always a factor in the metabolism of drugs. Older individuals tend to metabolize drugs more slowly than younger individuals.
- Combining drugs can affect their elimination rate from the body. This is particularly true if one combines drugs with alcohol because the liver gives priority to metabolizing alcohol over all other substances. Thus, alcohol is metabolized first (at about the rate of one ounce of pure alcohol per hour), and other drugs are metabolized later.
- Other factors such as a person’s health, individual metabolism, and specific types of medical conditions can influence how long a drug remains in a person’s system. For example, someone with cirrhosis of the liver will metabolize substances more slowly.