Case of kratom used to self-manage chronic pain and opioid withdrawal complicated by a potential interaction with modafinil by Dr. Cristopher McCurdy and Dr. Edward Boyer

McCurdy

Background

Kratom (Mitragynia speciosa korth) is recognized increasingly as a remedy for opioid withdrawal by individuals who self-treat chronic pain.

Case description

A patient who had abruptly ceased injection hydromorphone abuse self-managed opioid withdrawal and chronic pain using kratom. After co-administering the herb with modafinil he experienced a tonic-clonic seizure, but he reported only modest abstinence once kratom administration stopped. We confirmed the identity of the plant matter he ingested as kratom and identified no contaminants or adulterants. We also conducted high-throughput molecular screening and the binding affinity at mu, delta and kappa receptors of mitragynine.

Conclusion

We report the self-treatment of chronic pain and opioid withdrawal with kratom. The predominant alkaloid of kratom, mitragynine, binds mu- and kappa-opioid receptors, but has additional receptor affinities that might augment its effectiveness at mitigating opioid withdrawal. The natural history of kratom use, including its clinical pharmacology and toxicology, are poorly understood.

Keywords: Dependence, kratom, molecular screening, opioid, opioid replacement, withdrawal

case of kratom used to self-manage chronic pain and opioid withdrawal complicated by a potential interaction with modafinil

Dr. Boyer speaks to The New York Times

New York Times Kratom Story

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