Leading Fibromyalgia Doctor Says Wait on Kratom

Leading Fibromyalgia Doctor Says Wait on Kratom

By Ginevra Liptan, M.D.

(Editor’s Note: Dr. Ginevra Liptan opened one of the first practices in the U.S. to treat fibromyalgia—something she has been fighting as a patient since she was in medical school. A recent note she sent caught our attention and we asked for permission to run it as a blog.)

Ginevra Liptan, MD

This article in Harpers is really worth reading. It brought me to tears in describing how the backlash against opiates has only added more suffering to those in chronic pain. Here are two key quotes:

A patients asks: “Can’t it be possible to tackle addiction and care for those who are in pain? Can’t we do both?”

A doctor says the opiate addiction crisis stems from “a perfect storm of scarcity: a lack of access to addiction specialists, a lack of mental health services, and a lack of the knowledge and the wherewithal to effectively treat chronic pain. Throw in poverty and joblessness, and the vicious circle becomes apparent. As a society, we’ve found it easier to dismiss pain patients as addicts, and to regard addicts as criminals, than to confront the tenacity of these American maladies.”

Partly due to lack of access to effective medications, many patients turn to alternative or herbal treatments. I often get asked about kratom, which is an herbal medicine (with pain-killing properties similar to opioids) derived from leaves of a tree in Southeast Asia.

Kratom definitely has some pain-relieving potential, but the jury is still out about safety and side effects, simply because so few studies been done. We are also now learning that kratom can have some of the same side effects as opiates and may negatively affect hormone levels.  One of my male patient reported sexual side effects while taking kratom, and a medical journal recently published a case of kratom causing low testosterone.

Kratom is also sold only on the unregulated supplement market which is risky, as evidenced by recent multistate Salmonella outbreak that prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a recommendation against the consumption of kratom in any form.

So, until we have more research and reliable access to safe sources, I advise avoiding kratom.

Finally, I am putting the finishing touches on my eBook The Fibro Food Formula: A Real-life Approach to Fibromyalgia Relief. It has taken me way longer than I had hoped, but is coming out soon on Amazon.com, so stay tuned.

For more information on Dr. Liptan, visit her website.

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Authored by: Ginevra Liptan, MD

Ginevra Liptan, MD, developed fibromyalgia while in medical school. She is a graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine and board-certified in internal medicine. Dr. Liptan is the founder and medical director of The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia and the author of The Fibro Manual: A Complete Fibromyalgia Treatment Guide for You...And Your Doctor and The Fibro Food Formula: A Real-Life Approach to Fibromyalgia Relief.

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Lori Cutter

I am so grateful for my Fibromyalgia doctor Ginerva Liptan, highlighted here, in prompting me to try CBD for my pain and sleep issues. I was up to 6 medications if you include topicals. As of 3 weeks ago, I’m so excited to say that I found a water-soluable hemp tincture that is USDA Organic from the Colorado farms and that I am no longer taking my 3 sleep medications and have been able to stop all medications for pain. The key is, if the CBD oil is not water-soluable, the likelihood of our bodies absorbing the oil is less then 8%. That’s why many people have no results using a CBD. Our bodies are made up of water and oil and water don’t mix very well. I got my life back and I wanted to share that there is an answer. Don’t give up trying and looking for a great source.


After years of “living with chronic pain & chronic fatigue” without any medication, I tried Kratom. I tried red, white, and green….none of them did anything for me. I’ve also tried several forms of CBD (capsules, sprays, tinctures, drops), but since it’s CBD ONLY and derived from Hemp, it did nothing for me. I’m holding out hope that medical marijuana (with both THC & CBD) will become legal before I’m dead.

Care Giver Susan

Perhaps another commenter has pointed this out already, but American males suffer from low testosterone GENERALLY. How did the study determine that it was the Kratom that lowered the two men’s testosterone?

You know what affects sex drive (in both men and women)? PAIN. What else? Oh, right: CHRONIC FATIGUE. Hmmm…


How about all the people who take SSRI’s? The have sexual side affects! It’s just so frigging hypocritical!


So, until we have more research and reliable access to safe sources, I advise avoiding kratom.

Finally, I am putting the finishing touches on my eBook The Fibro Food Formula: A Real-life Approach to Fibromyalgia Relief. It has taken me way longer than I had hoped, but is coming out soon on Amazon.com, so stay tuned.
OK, understood. Do NOT buy kratom now, it might not be safe. Instead, stay in excruciating agony from the pain and lack of the opioids that your doctor will no longer prescribe for you, at least until you have a chance to buy this e-book I just finished that will take your pain away if you just eat right……got it.


Respectfully, Dr. Liptan, you don’t know what you are talking about regarding kratom. There actually has been substantial research. We know what’s in it and the pharmacokinetics of those substances. The active ingredients have been isolated and even patented.

Additionally, there are many reputable vendors out there who follow GMP. They have shipments 3rd party tested prior to offering product for sale. They have ongoing relationships with farmers who specifically raise nothing but kratom … yes, kratom farms are where the vast majority of kratom originates. Not wild harvested.

As for salmonella: I belong to several kratom support groups. These groups have thousands of members. Many of them are loyal customers. Not a single one of them has ever reported illness. (SK was the vendor targeted by FDA, and I use the word “targeted” deliberately.) Not a single one of them even knows a SK customer who got sick. Personally, I do not trust FDA. Remember … FDA approved Vioxx and Fen-phen and Bextra (and about 30 others) before they back-pedalled and revoked approval. I do not put anything past that agency, particularly in light of the fact that their 8-Point report to DEA has been completely discredited. They are grasping at straws.

Kratom (and CBD) has given me my life back. I fired pain management. No more being treated like a criminal just because I have chronic pain!

Laurie Cummings-Ware

I disagree. Kratom works wonder without the side effects of opiates.

Dr. Alan

Tylenol, 500+ deaths in USA a year. Openly used by millions for chronic pain. In Asian countries Kratom has already been known to help assist men with prematurity ED – so this male hormone statement holds little water. Again, more fear in the media. To all those that read these articles, it’s positive to see the comments sections and how many people come forth with praise and respect for this sacred plant.


I was about to try it not that I can afford it. But then I watched a underground film on it and changed my mind until more studies are done. People do die from it and there is a reason it is illegal in Southeast Asia

How do I find “reputable vendors” as Cameron said? The videos on YouTube are confusing, there are so many different kinds and I don’t know where to begin. In my case, just for pain. I want to be careful because I don’t want to get sick. A friend suggested horse chestnut and it made me sick. I have advanced arthritis, got it at age 24 and I’m almost 72 now, then got fibromyalgia at age 50, also gotten worse and it’s in my whole body. But I really would like to try Kratom, just don’t know where to turn


Kratom is as safe as coffee and should be used responsibly be anyone seeking pain relief. Meat on is so much safer that any pharma drugs.


My husband is late stage multiple myeloma and assigned hospice care. He was on 2 oxy meds, morphine and nerve medications. Before kratom, he slept all day and with the meds, still in pain. Next, he would only he house for doctor appointments. This is due to his pain. L I’m happy to announce since substituting kratom for the pain meds, he has been free of pain meds since November 2017. Also, I’ve been talking it in place of sleep meds and depression meds for 2 weeks. It’s working! Finally, there has been no negative side effects! Instead, it has helped to elevate his pain, help my depression and insomia, as well as alkalining both of our bodies. You should try it doc!



I live in Alabama where almost everything is illegal. I have been tempted to drive to Georgia or Mississippi to purchase some. I asked my Dr about Kratom and he advised me against it. I’m still seriously thinking about trying it. I suffer from chronic pain and attend a Pain Management Clinic but due to the CDC Guidelines my Dr has had to cut my medicine so much that I suffer again with pain. Thanks to everyone that has written comments about Kratom!!!


Where do people buy this. Whats a safe company. I cant take my pain and ive heard wondetful things about this. I dont know what to do. No one xan fix me or treat me properly. Im nearly insane over my pain.

Judie Plumley

Its easy to say don’t try something when you have access to healthcare. Its easy to discount someone else’s pain when it isn’t your body.
You are a doctor. You have to say this about kratom.
All things may have have their risks, but I would trust kratom any day before I would pay to submit to the crap pain clinics put you through. There, you pay to be tortured!
I have been using kratom over 3 years. I have yet to be disappointed, and I have not raised my intake.


It bears mention that salmonella effects many vegetables, prepared meals and products. Yet, never do we hear recommendations that we all stop eating lettuce, or eat tacos. Lets maintain perspective and expect the same of others who influence opinions worldwide.

Stella C

Given the stigma of taking prescription opioids for my fibro, I have tried Kratom. I buy from an herbal supply store and it really helps when I have a flare up. I am tired of being treated like a drug abuser, even though I voluntarily reduced my dosage, always use the same doctor and pharmacy and never had a bad urine test. I don’t ask for early refills or “lose” prescriptions.
I cannot function when I have a bad flare up and I like preserving my self respect. I plan to continue occasionally using Kratom, it works.

Debbie G.

You need to talk to the people that have used Kratom. I dare not think of where I would be without finding Kratom and using it as a tool I got my life back. I am a college educated women who makes 75k a year so trust me when I say all walks of life use it. Please do more research and talk to users!

Bart Eason

If you are really hurting you ain’t gonna wait for a bunch of doctors to make a decision on kratom..i have been taking daily for 6 months after 15 years opiates from Drs and hospitals and chronic pain clinics..it has allowed me to function and have a life..it has literally saved my life..was in pain And a very dark place before trying kratom..much safer than the pills and no real side effects..its all a matter of perspective on what your life was like before you tried kratom..mine was a hell of daily pain..spinal damage..THANK YOU KRATOM.


Kratom may be the answer to many patients pain management issues. Just like cannabis, cbd oil( no thc) may help the individual. A patient does not have to be a physician to know what really helps with lifetime pain management. As a long time patient, like everyone else so lowered in dosage of a medication that was no longer effective, I and my wife tried….kratom. It seemed to help a little but maybe that was the placebo effect, I don’t know. I have read that several countries that produce kratom has its’ regulations against the use of it. Intolerable pain, everyday, for life is a hard pill to swallow and most of us will try what others say helps. IF kratom is going to be “legal” to use, I would like to see some sort of quality control. Do I trust dot /govM to provide quality control? NO. I am for cannabis if it helps with a patients issues, I am for kratom, but the ……..waiting for an effective remedy for continuous lifetime pain is the most unbearable part of all the “opioid crisis”.


Several of you have mentioned that “your vendors” are from certified labs and are, therefore, safe. Would a couple of you please share where you get your Kratom.

Paula Santana

I am a Kratom user. It got me completley off of opiates. It has changed so many people’s lives that I know. It has been a complete life saver to many! I don’t understand why there is so much negativity surrounding this miracle plant?! If they want to ban Kratom, then ban coffee too. People especially the doctors and the damn pharmaceutical companies need to open their eyes to how many people don’t need opiates anymore. I understand why the pharmaceutical companies hate it. It’s taking money from their pockets! I don’t care what people say about Kratom, I will continue to use it, because I don’t need a pill anymore!!! Maybe they should listen to the Kratom community instead of bashing our plant! #saveourplant #kratomsaveslives 🌿🌿


Kratom is starting to give me my life back after a long time of suffering. It should be praised and not banned. It touches me deeply every time I read anothers story that it saved them because it is really amazing and NOBODY should be suffering if we dont have to be. And btw it is really not addictive. If I didnt have pain I would not HAVE to take it!! (Unlike opiates) Kratom is not like opiates.I totally recommend kratom to anyone that is suffering from pain, depression or fatigue from a reputable store. #Godgaveuskratom

Allison N.

Dr Liptan, I am grateful for you and respect your work and contributions to understanding and treating fibromyalgia. I understand why you are suggesting that people abstain from Kratom.

I have taken Kratom for 2 years now. My doses are conservative, 4 grams. I have never increased my dose, never experienced a “buzz” (high) from it, and as far as I know, have not experienced any side effects.

My biggest problem is that it is not covered by insurance companies. As someone on a limited fixed disability income, budgeting for my Kratom pain management lessens my ability to afford other necessities. The improvement in my functioning makes the trade offs worth it.

In my opinion, most of the government’s and mainstream media’s statements about Kratom are inaccurate propaganda with questionable logic and motives…and somewhat reminiscent of the mindset behind the movie Reefer Madness.

I agree that Kratom should be tested more. But I am very leery of WHO is chosen to test it, and HOW it is tested. This article exposes flaws in how medications are tested, FDA approval, and the rush to protect patents and profit:

This article exposes the statistical facts about the low efficacy of the top three FDA approved drugs for fibromyalgia: https://fedupwithfatigue.com/why-your-fibro-meds-arent-working/ If you research, you can find many articles that are similar in conclusion.

Finally, with all due respect, I offer a couple of links to articles that expose and refute some of the Kratom-related propaganda. https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5a7a3549e4b07af4e81eda8b





Its a plant!!
Been using for years for pain leave it alone already and if you want to ben something go after opiates which just about ruined my life before I found out about kratom

Cameron j.

Kratom has given me my life back. I only buy from reputable vendors that test their products. They are vendors that sell in countries where it is regulated so you know it’s safe. Before Kratom, I was on and off opioids for pain and severe rls. They caused withdrawal, were damaging to my mental health and my sex life. Kratom, not only controls my pain but also doesn’t effect my mental health. If I don’t take it for a few days, the only withdrawal I get is a return of my symptoms.

I think Kratom is a wonderful plant, and those who demonize it ignore the obvious scare campaign being committed by the government. They say not to take it at all due to a few cases of salmonella, yet there are millions of cases of salmonella a year and they never say “don’t eat chicken”. Kratom may not have many studies, but it’s been proven to not carry respiratory depression as a side effect and has been used for thousands of years without major ill effects. If it is abused in large doses for prolonged periods of time, it can have tough withdrawal symptoms but that’s most drugs that are capable of dependency. Less is more with kratom, small doses give pain relief and avoid those issues. It’s not euphoric like opioids and can’t be smoked, injected or snorted like opioids so it doesn’t carry the same addiction risk potential.

I highly suggest you support the use of Kratom and become an ally for us who it’s literally saved our lives. Without Kratom, I’d be in misery and before Kratom I was close to suicide since I couldn’t get my pain under control. Kratom really did save my life.

Lori T.

I’ve never used Kratom but I am a firm believer that if the government bans it before proper studies are done, very important medical findings may be lost for a very long time. This stupidity happened with marijuana. Now, in the few states that have legalized medical marijuana, we are now able to study this herb in detail and the findings have been rather surprising and useful. Besides, it gives those with painful conditions something else to try to alleviate those symptoms besides opioids. I still feel that opioids be kept on the table for those with chronic pain. If Kratom is allowed to remain on the supplement market, people can be free to try this option to see if it works for them. I would just be a little careful where I bought the substance, like a certified lab or supplement company. I believe in choice, not heavy handed regulation of useful medicinal products. I’m with the Doctor here, let’s study Kratom and see what becomes of it and absolutely keep it legal.


Have any of you tried Wild Lettuce? Please Terry do not give up, I am in the same boat, my life is slowly slipping away due to under treatment of my chronic pain condition but I am still looking for anything out there that can give me relief, I wanted to try Kratom but I was told it is either your pain medications or kratom, so I stayed with my low dose pain medications. But I wanted to add that I have tried wild lettuce which is not banned by our pain contracts and it has helped me a little, I am looking into vaping it because in pill form it only lasts for me about 15 minutes. So please Terry look this up


I’ve had fibro for 20 years. I have tried all the medications out there for it. The only thing prescription meds did was give me serious side effects and ulcers. Kratom works and you can get it from vendors who test for contaminants. I have been off all prescription meds for 8 years. Kratom has been used safely for centuries.

Em Pyszora

I’ve been using kratom for years. It is not always as strong as pills, it isn’t always 100% effective as a muscle relaxer, but it has given me my life back.

Without it, I would still be st home, wishing I were dead because of the pain and the fatigue and the hopelessness.

There HAVE been studies done on the safety and effectiveness!!! Check out Universities in Malaysia.
It has been used for THOUSANDS of years.

It is related to the coffee plant, and affects the same receptors in your brain as cheese and other yummy foods does.

Please do not write articles when you haven’t done your research, you are spreading misinformation that could put people back into full on disability. Without a safe way to help my pain, I would not have ANYTHING that I have today.

Do research before saying it is bad, please.
Why can foods that we feed ourselves and out children – lettuce, flour, etc – have contaminations EVERY YEAR and we continue to mass produce, but ONE company of kratom and now it should be banned?

Excuse the capital letters, I am just trying to garner attention to my comment.
The FDA and DEA have purposely ignored all studies showing the safety and efficacy of kratom because $$$$.

Please, do unbiased research (of actual studies, not just opinions) before you spread inaccuracies that could take lives away from people.

Normal Guy

It has been used safely for hundreds of years. Do a Wiki search on the plant.


Kratom has literally given me my life back, and it helped my brother to ween himself off of opiates. Plus, It’s stimulating and mood lifting properties are an amazing workout motivator! I’ve been taking it daily for 4 years and I have experienced absolutely ZERO negative side effects. I recently had my testosterone tested and it was 726 total at age 36, so it doesn’t seem to harm testosterone production in my experience. The FDA/DEA’s desire to deny people access to this amazing herb is egregious and clearly illustrates that they do not have our best interest in mind.

Jillian Drexler

I’ve been using Kratom for pain relief (& PTSD) off & on for about 2 years. Just like any treatment, it doesn’t work all of the time, but when it helps, it helps. I’ve never experienced any negative side effects from it & there’s absolutely no way to overdose on it. I’ve never experienced it, but if too much is taken, you vomit, letting you know you’ve taken too much & if the dose is properly adjusted the next time, there’s no issues with vomiting anymore. Kratom has been used by many, not just for pain relief, but for PTSD symptom relief, drug addiction issues, etc. Since I’ve not been prescribed the opioid pain medication I know can help my pain & improve my quality of life (for anything other than after surgeries), Kratom has been my go-to for pain (& PTSD symptom) relief. Rather than the FDA insisting there’s no medicinal benefit to Kratom & deeming it the negative things they have, perhaps they should take the time to conduct the necessary tests & studies. But there’s no profit for them in keeping Kratom around. Every medication is likely to have side effects for one person or another. Just like with anything, if it doesn’t work for you, don’t take it, but the option of it shouldn’t be taken from everyone else. And, similar to the heroin & opioid “epidemic,” lets stop punishing the many innocent for the actions of the guilty few.


When I stopped taking opiates and began taking kratom, I was able to get my life together. I’m no longer ending up in the ER and my family doesn’t hate being around me. It’s hard to imagine that drinking kratom tea is more dangerous for heroin and pain pills. Kratom is great for pain relief so it’s nice to have an all natural alternative to powerful drugs. Banning kratom would be devastating to people in my position.


I appreciate the time you’ve spent bringing attention to fibromyalga. As with most chronic pain patients we are just plain out of luck. My opiates have been cut so drastically that I can’t even function anymore, I never thought it would be this bad. I have been an advocate for chronic pain patients and did my due dilagence to try and get us relief, I now haven’t got the energy or wherewthital to do anything but slowly fade away. The sad truth is I am gone and I’m not coming back.

Jessica Larson

Literally the only thing that has helped me with such low side affects.
I’ll take kratom over the 11 pills a day I used to be prescribed.
The changes in me this year I’ve been using kratom have been monumental especially considering I was thinking I would have to quit work. Now I’m picking up extra shifts!


A good, honest look at kratom. I take it almost daily for back pain, and I’ve noticed I have low libido and have gained a ton of weight. Not sure if those are because of the kratom, but it’s definitely worth noting

Kratom is the only supplement, keeping me moving. It’s been around much longer than the Media knows. I understand your hesitancy, but I have not suffered any side effects. You really cannot overdose on this supplement, emesis will occur quickly.
Other studies support this.
I don’t pretend to have any answers and I never recommend any supplement to anyone. For me it has been a saviour. I don’t want the government taking this away.

Margaret Adamson

That “perfect storm” of ignorance begins with the stubborn refusal to admit that studies dating from 1987 conclusively prove we humans secrete morphine endogenously in our own cells. None of the media accounts of the “opioid crisis” interview any of the scientists who made this important discovery. The chief crusader waging war on pain patients, insurance executive Dr Andrew Kolodny, sidesteps mentioning the role of endogenous morphine, when promoting his pet opioid product, Suboxone, as “rewiring” the addicted brain to stop addiction. Yes, absolutely! And we cannot explain that “rewiring”, except by admitting that it is normal for our brains to have some morphine in them!

Technically, the difference between the natural opioid that’s in Kratom and the natural opioid morphine that’s in poppies and in people, is that morphine binds to the Mu and Kappa Opioid Receptors in our brains (yes, the Good Lord put opioid receptors in our brains, right about when He decided to put morphine in our bodies), but the opioid that’s in Kratom only binds to the Kappa receptors. This means that natural morphine makes us sleepy when it relieves pain, but natural Kratom keeps us awake when it relieves pain. But that’s not the entire story. Since most doctors have no experience treating people with Kratom, Dr Liptan is wise to advise people to proceed with caution. Regulators need to exercise the same caution. Just as we don’t cure obesity by outlawing restaurants, we don’t cure substance abuse by commanding pain patients to suffer.

Venus lynn usher

The salmanilla is not evidence of problems caused by not being regulated. My vendor does all the testing to be gmp certified. If that is the reason, why do we have salmanilla outbreaks in other regulated industries?

Jane Heinrich

I think Kratom has been successfully used as much as marijuana. It’s a money problem.