Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/27/2022
Does Kratom cause hair loss? Can using Kratom damage hair follicles? You’re not the first person to ask these questions.
Unless you’re fully up to date on your drug education, you may not have heard much about Kratom: the drug of choice for replacing drugs that pose a risk of abuse when taken for an extended period.
But if you’ve heard of Kratom on the internet, chances are, you’ve heard of the side effects — including drug-induced hair loss. Before getting into the potential drawbacks, let’s start with the basics.
Kratom is an herbal medicine. It comes from the extract of kratom trees (also known as mitragyna speciosa or M. Speciosa).
Mitragyna speciosa is a native Southeast Asian tree known for its traditional medicine properties, as well as for its current role in lessening the effects of opioid withdrawal.
Though not approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), people have reported positive results when using Kratom products to alleviate pain, self-treat substance abuse, and manage mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
Along with these benefits, however, come risks of side effects, especially in cases of recreational use. This may very well be why the FDA hasn’t come close to approving the tree-based treatment for any medical conditions.
But just because something is labeled as a dangerous, deadly internet drug or has the potential for widespread abuse doesn’t mean it’s bad for your hair.
So, will Kratom tree products make you go bald? Let’s look at the facts.
Here’s a little Kratom factsheet.
This opioid withdrawal treatment may bring relief to people with certain patterns of drug use by interacting with an opioid receptor.
But — and this is a big but — there’s a misbelief among drug users that it’s a safe solution to drug addiction. There have been many online reports of Kratom’s unwanted effects that could make you second-guess taking it.
Here’s just a short list of the adverse effects, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
Heart and lung problems, including high blood pressure
Abnormally dark urine
Dangerous weight loss
Human and animal studies are ongoing to further research the dangers of short- and long-term Kratom use and exposure to mitragynine.
There have also been as many as a dozen deaths due to Kratom (11 between 2011 and 2017). It’s a relatively small number of drug fatality reports but still more than zero.
Don’t get us wrong — you’ll see plenty of hair loss claims due to Kratom pop up when you search the internet. Reddit, oddball health blogs and other questionable online reports all mention hair loss from Kratom usage.
And the mentions we found in peer-reviewed studies were self-reported symptoms. Researchers attribute these to daily, long-term use but acknowledge there’s no scientific proof.
Because we don’t actually know how — or even if — Kratom causes hair loss, we have to go off the limited information provided by just a few pieces of research. Here are a few potential factors.
A working theory that hasn't been proven suggests that Kratom hair loss might be a long-term side effect of daily use, which seems entirely possible.
After all, regular Kratom users experience not only the adverse effects we mentioned but also the negative effects of withdrawal, temporary erectile dysfunction, muscle pain and spasms.
Kratom toxicity might cause hair loss — especially given the fact that as people build a tolerance, they need more to get the desired effects.
It could also be a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium, a condition in which your body sheds hair due to things like trauma, high stress levels, infection, medication side effects and deficiencies.
But this is only a guess. Kratom may potentially be affecting your hormones or altering your body’s immune system in ways that weaken your hair follicles.
Also, Kratom might not be responsible for hair loss in individuals who self-reported. Because this information wasn’t collected in a study environment, it’s possible other factors were to blame.
The only way we’ll really know is with further research, and that will take time.
So, how do you treat hair loss that may or may not be due to Kratom use? The first step is talking to a healthcare professional about your symptoms.
If your hair loss turns out to be telogen effluvium related to Kratom usage, it’s possible your hair will simply grow back once you stop taking it. Telogen effluvium typically resolves once the triggering trauma, illness or other medical issue has been resolved.
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Let’s start with finasteride, which you may know as a generic version of Propecia.
Finasteride reduces levels of the hormone DHT circulating in your body. DHT has been linked to androgenic alopecia or male-pattern baldness.
Finasteride is most often used as an oral medication, though there are topical versions available. Daily use has been shown to reduce your DHT by about 70 percent, which for many men, is enough to slow or reverse hair loss.
Then there’s the topical medication minoxidil, which you may know by the name Rogaine. We don’t fully understand exactly how topical minoxidil treats hair loss, but we do know it increases blood flow to your follicles, which can stimulate better hair growth.
Minoxidil is also a good option for people with telogen effluvium looking to jump-start the regrowth process. Even for those with androgenic alopecia, studies show minoxidil can increase your hair count by up to 18.6 percent over a 48-week period.
We don’t know much about kratom hair loss — science hasn’t proven it exists yet. But online reports of the negative effects are enough to make you vigilant.
If you’re experiencing hair loss for any reason, you may want to discontinue Kratom use. But if there’s one thing you should definitely do, it’s talk to a healthcare professional.
They can help you find the real source of your hair woes and guide you to the right treatment, whether it’s minoxidil, finasteride or something else.
In the meantime, take our advice: cut down on the Kratom. This stuff isn’t great for your body (or your health, in general).
And while there are arguably some good reasons to take it (like kicking another drug habit), the long-term side effects are worrisome at best.
You deserve a long, happy life with a full head of hair. Start working toward that today with hair loss treatments from Hims.