Kratom is the common name for Mitragyna speciosa, a tropical evergreen native to the marshy jungles of Southeast Asia. It grows wild in central and southern Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and elsewhere in the Pacific Rim.
Known for its hanging clusters of deep yellow flowers and reaching up to 42 feet (13 meters) in height, kratom has numerous uses in folk medicine. Traditionally, the broad green leaves are plucked by hand and dried in the sun, to be brewed as a tea or pulverized and swallowed with water.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, kratom has increased in visibility around the world. Regular users see it as an invaluable aid for mental and physical health, while others enjoy its dual recreational value as a stimulant or sedative-narcotic (depending on the dose).
It’s been used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes, diarrhoea, fever, and relieve pain. This is because it contains more than 40 compounds and over 25 alkaloids, most notably mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
Kratom belongs to the same plant family as coffee called Rubiaceae. And, in the same way drinking ten cups of coffee isn’t good for you, taking too high a dosage of kratom isn’t either.
If you take too high a dosage, you could get Kratom hangover where you experience nausea and headaches. However, used properly, in small amounts of 1 to 3 grams a time, there are little, if any, side effects.
Long-term use studies are still pending. However, the centuries long Thai experience of kratom proves its safety. A recent report from the country’s Transnational Institute and Narcotic control Board stated Kratom is a part of southern Thai culture and its criminalization is counter-productive in respect to it’s historic use in the country.
On an empty stomach, the effects are noticeable from around the 15-20 minute mark, gradually building in intensity and peaking for two to four hours. Stronger doses may have a shorter onset.
Lower doses are often more stimulating. They may be characterized by increased motivation, talkativeness, and sociability, along with a feeling of euphoria and physical energy. Some people find the stimulant effects of kratom a little too “edgy” to be pleasant, at least at first. Other disagreeable effects—including sweating, nausea, dizziness, and dysphoria—can also be experienced during the onset period, but they usually give way in time.
At the higher, sedative dose ranges, users report a diminished sensitivity to physical and emotional pain, and a feeling of general contentedness. Some go into a kind of “waking-dreaming” reverie, especially when listening to music. Ethnobotanist and author Daniel Siebert likened this to the state prized by 19th-century Romantics, who used opium to keep one foot in dreamland and the other in the real world.
Additional effects might include mild visuals (both open- and closed-eye), a warming sensation, increased empathy, and possibly sexual arousal. The pupils are likely to constrict if they change size at all.
The alkaloids in Kratom mean it has a similar pain relieving effect as morphine yet without the risk of being addictive. The alkaloids act on the opiate receptors present in the central nervous system, enhancing the release of enkephalins and endorphins which numb your body’s pain receptors.
This means it can give pain relief for sufferers of conditions like osteoarthritis, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, chronic backache, rheumatoid arthritis, and joint pain, to name a few.
If you’re prone to stress or suffer from anxiety or depression, kratom will help soothe your nerves and calm you down. It’s a psychostimulant as it releases endorphins and serotonin which enhance your overall mood.
It will calm down your mind so you have less anxious thoughts. And its calming effect eases tension which greatly helps with social anxiety, making you feel more confident and sociable. It’s for this reason it’s common for people to take kratom during social gatherings in villages in South East Asia.
It also alleviates other symptoms of anxiety like insomnia, heart palpitations, sweating, hyperventilation, muscle cramps, among others.
This makes it ideal for people suffering from mood swings, chronic stress, anxiety and depression, PTSD, panic attacks, and those with highly demanding jobs.
The nice, chilled out vibe it gives you makes you feel great just being alive. However, the effect depends on the type and dosage. Some strains of kratom are stronger than others, taken in high quantities it gives users a euphoric feeling.
The chemical components in kratom leaves are good for your body’s hormones, arteries and blood vessels, helping lower blood pressure. It also helps prevent various heart diseases by easing tension in the cardiovascular system which means it helps protect against health issues like heart attacks, strokes and atherosclerosis.
Some researcher claim kratom can help protect against cancer. This is because it has a similar effect as your body’s natural antioxidants, superoxide dismutase and glutathione, which help prevent the formation of free radicals.
Kratom isn’t federally controlled in the United States, but it is a “drug of concern.” Individual states, including Indiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Vermont, Arkansas, and Alabama, have banned the plant in various forms, while others have legislation pending.
In the UK, kratom is criminalized under the Psychoactive Substances Act. The plant and its active alkaloids is controlled by various measures in a number of EU member states, including Denmark, Poland, and Sweden. It’s also illegal in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand, among other countries. Reports have revealed some kratom distributors lace their supplies with potentially toxic drugs in order to intensify the effects. As such, it’s important you purchase the herb from a trustworthy distributor.