Holistic Health and Nutrition

Safer Pain Relief (the Kratom Post)

Anyone that’s known me for more than two seconds probably knows I suffer from migraines.  No, no, please don’t call it a headache.  It’s different.  My vision suffers.  Things are blurry, one eye literally hurts at the sight of any light.  My stomach is queasy.  Sometimes things start spinning.  My whole body hurts down one side (usually the left).  I want to dislocate my head from the rest of my body while simultaneously shoving an ice pick through my eye.  Migraines SUCK.  And I’ve had them since I was only 8 or 9 years old.


While my food choices have certainly lessened the frequency, some triggers (such as fluorescent lights and cigarette smoke) are things I can’t stay away from on a regular basis as I’m employed by “the man” (you know, big corporate).  Removing gluten and casein has helped.  Hydrating (I’m not talking 64 fluid ounces — try 100) has helped.  Light exercise (lifting weights, yoga — I’m not a cardio girl) has helped.  Keeping my Omegas in balance has helped (are your 6s higher than your 3s?  Different post for a different day).  But, on occasion, I still suffer from some pretty ugly migraines.  True massages – those that target muscular “knots” – can help.  Chiropractic adjustments help A TON.  But at the end of the day, when it’s 5am and you wake up to a screaming migraine, you want relief.  Some people can use OTC options.  Advil, Aleve, Tylenol.  Some need RX.  Whether it’s Vicodin or Relpax (or other pain relievers, particularly triptans are prescribed).

The most challenging contributor to control though is stress.  It doesn’t matter what you or on or what you can take, at least for me, if stress hits me hard, my migraines increase both in frequency and severity.  About a year ago I found myself in a job I loved, but after being there only a few months, my boss changed.  The new boss seemed to be receptive to my input at first.  But after only a couple of months, office politics kicked in.  Now, keep in mind — I loved this job.  Really loved it.  What I did, who I worked with, my team – I had quite a few wonderful and amazing people working under me.  There was no such thing as a bad performance review or “improvement plan”.  My boss, on the other hand, had a very different managing style.  He lied.  He deceived.  He yelled.  At me.  Yelled at my staff.  He favored his own political agenda, although to this day I still don’t understand exactly what it was.  Intimidation and bullying in the workplace – especially from a position of leadership is NEVER acceptable.  But that was his style. 

And you know what happened?  My stress increased.  I wanted to protect my people.  So I worked hard to shield them.  I worked hard to shield the integrity of our team. Of our business to our customers.  But the stress increased.  And the migraines increased.  And in May of this year I found myself in the ER with a mindblowing migraine.  I’ve been in the ER before.  I’ve been hooked up to morphine IVs for pain.  But more and more medical centers are getting audited for drugs like morphine.  So on this particular night, I was asked “can you take NSAIDs?”.  (NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatories – basically RX grade Advil).  I told the on call physician very adamantly that I’d suffered from migraines for almost 30 years, and that at this point in severity, NSAIDs won’t help.  I needed morphine to just stop the pain.

He didn’t listen — (yeah, I know – big lawsuit, right?) — and gave me an IV of a NSAID anyway.  It made me sicker.  I requested my own discharge once I realized what he was pumping into me what specifically what I’d asked him not to, and went home in worse pain than what I went in with.  I took a hot shower with my head firmly pressed up against the cold tile – nerve confusion always seems to help for a minute or two – any relief is better than none.  And I scheduled a massage as soon as they opened the next day.  I also googled “alternative to morphine”.  And started researching.

If you’re still with me, thank you.  Because now we’re getting to why you are here!  What showed up in that research was a plant I’d never heard of.  Kratom.  Pronounced “cray” like crayon “tum” – like, your tummy.  Cray-tum.  Kratom.  There were tons of migraine sufferers swearing by this stuff.  Some random plant somewhere around Indonesia.  Harvested and ground into a powder.  I learned there were three different strains – white, green, and red — and red seemed to be the pain relief strain.  Without doing much more than finding a company that DIDN’T have a reputation for poor quality, I ordered some.  A little crazy and risky, but when you’re desperate, I guess you’ll try anything.  I did!

So I got a small packet of “Maeng Da” Kratom capsules.  Filled with a light green powder.  I’d read that each capsule contained 750mg, and most pain sufferers were taking 2-5 grams.  I tried ONE capsule.  Because I was afraid of a reaction.  After 24 hours, I didn’t have any visible signs or symptoms, so I took 3.  The equivalent of 2.25 grams.  Just over the minimum recommended.  I still had a migraine, but after massage and a few adjustments (and however many days it took to get the kratom), the severity had lessened.  Within 5 minutes, I felt the effects of kratom.  Not dizziness or nausea.  Not exactly euphoria.  Just less pain.  After about 30 minutes, I started to feel almost normal.  The muscle tension was still significant, but I didn’t want to cry at bright light or loud booming noises.  I felt almost normal.


I’ve taken kratom over the last few months (and quit my job for those that are interested – that guy was such a jerk) as needed for pain.  In tandem, I also discovered podcasts.  Yes, I knew podcasts existed, but I didn’t know there were cool ones I’d want to listen to.  I thought they were all business boring podcasts.  So anyway.  In August, Ben Greenfield (like, one of the most amazing nutrition and fitness guys ever) hosted an episode where his guest was a former power lifter and documentary director named Chris Bell.  The topic?  KRATOM.  Turns out Ben started using it around the same time I did – maybe a bit earlier.  Woo-hoo!!!  Someone else is reaffirming this is ok to take.  Guys – RELIEF.  So I listened to the whole podcast.  It’s about an hour long, but I highly, highly recommend listening to it before you even THINK about buying it or taking it.

***Please do NOT take kratom until you have researched it for yourself (and talked with your physician of choice).  Everyone has different health issues and backgrounds and genetics, and it works for ME, but it may not be right for you.  Kratom is also banned in 6 states (heaven forbid we let people have a pain killer with no side effects that pharmaceutical companies can’t make money off of), so look this up as well.***

Listen to the podcast.  I can tell you from personal experience that the ONLY side effect I’ve had is increased energy and focus.  That means if I have a pounding migraine and take kratom at 7pm, I may not fall asleep until 1 or 2 am.  There are different strains (as mentioned above) and some are more sedative whereas some are more stimulating.  If you listen to the podcast, you’ll hear about it’s similarities to marijuana, but it’s actually close to the coffee plant.  One of the things Chris talks about is opioid receptors and how stuff like OxyContin plugs directly in to block the pain receptor, whereas Kratom really sort of just hovers around and above, more radiating a block instead of “plugging in”.  I admittedly don’t get all of the science, and between Google and Ben Greenfield’s podcast, I think it would be a great start to your own research.

If you DO have interest, Chris recommends Urban Ice Organix (yep – organic Kratom, ya’ll) which can be found at http://naturalorganix.com/.  If you are interested in getting off RX pain killers or even OTC to a safer alternative, this might be something that’s right for you.  The only reported issues (like nausea) seem to be directly related to taking TOO MUCH.  Be very cautious.  You wouldn’t pop six Advil at once (I hope), so treat this the same way.  Just because it doesn’t have a huge label on it with directions and safety warnings doesn’t mean you can take as much as you want.  Taking more than recommended NEVER actually helps the pain.  Ben and Chris both take it for back pain, and Chris even recommends it with or in place of coffee when he needs an energy boost.

Check out the podcast, and let me know if you have any questions.

The Kratom User’s Guide: What Is Kratom, How Do You Use It & The Truth Behind This Controversial Natural Herb.

Thanks, and Stay Shiny!