Exploring the use of Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) via the YouTube Data Tool: a Novel Netnographic Analysis
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tree native to Southeast Asia with long history of traditional medicinal use. The aim of this study was to investigate the nature of self-reported exported experiences as shared on YouTube™ videos. A total of 500 videos with 19,478,180 views and 134, 863 comments emerged from the data scrape extracted via the YouTube Data Tool. 12 out of the 16 most viewed videos emerged from our searches were manually processed and selected for inductive thematic analysis. Kratom use for the self-medication of a number of health conditions was described in the videos, including for opioid dependence/addiction (83.4%), pain (75%), anxiety (67%) and depression (42%), substance use problems (42%) as well as for energy boosting (50%), mood elevation (25%) and nootropic effects (25%). Although most of the described experiences were positive (58%), side-effects such as dependence and withdrawal (50%), nausea (42%), loss of appetite (25%), sedation (25%), loss of motivation (16.7%), headache (16.7%), drowsiness (16.7%), dry mouth and frequent urination (16.7%) were also reported and associated in 25% of the cases to chronic ingestions. Overall, our findings would show that Kratom is used more frequently for self-medication, than as a recreational drug. It also supports the need for more controlled clinical studies to better assess the safety and the efficacy of its use in a therapeutic context.