Pain relief is one of the big reasons why people use kratom, said Marc Swogger, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, who published a study last year that focused on why people use kratom.
Kratom appears to be a good analgesic, or painkiller, Swogger told Live Science.
People have also reported taking kratom to help them stop using other drugs, particularly opiates, Swogger said. Some people reported "using kratom to ease symptoms of opiate withdrawal, and many indicated that they had success in discontinuing opiates," Swogger's study found. The findings support earlier research that suggested that kratom may have therapeutic potential as an opiate substitute, the study said.
Other people in the study reported using kratom to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety, Swogger said.
Although the drug may cause people to experience some euphoria and a sense of well-being, Swogger said he didn't think many people were using kratom specifically to get high. However, the drug is advertised as a "legal high" in smoke shops, he added.