Kratom is the name given to Mitragyna Speciosa, a tropical plant from Southeast Asia. This plant can grow up to be quite tall (up to 42 feet). In terms of usage, kratom has been a big part of home remedies in countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, etc. Traditionally, the natives would either chew the leaves or hand pick them, dry them in the sun, and brew as a tea. Today, the leaves of this plant are available in many forms.
In the western world, kratom has found the biggest usage as a recreational herb. It’s supposed to offer mild sedative-life effects. All and all, it’s supposed to induce a sense of general health and wellbeing.
It remains unclear when kratom was first used, but the practice of using kratom is thought to be ancient going back several decades. Perhaps the most commonplace use of Kratom was as an energy-booster much like cocoa is used by the natives of The Andes. Peasants of Thailand would chew leaves to stay active while working in the scorching heat. The most recent accounts of kratom usage go far back to the early 19th century where it was used as a mild sedative.
In 1921, mitragynine – the active alkaloid was studied in isolation. By 1960s, over 20 active alkaloids were found and studied. By this time, kratom’s popularity had begun to pick up the pace. It was in 1994 that another primary compound 7-hydroxymitragynine was identified. 2000 was the year when the public became more aware of kratom; primarily via online message boards. In many countries like Australia – sale, and possession of kratom was banned due to its opioid-like similarities.
However, in the US – many campaigns and advocacy groups such as Botanical Education Alliance, United Kratom Association, and American Kratom Association sprung up. They protested to maintain kratom’s legality. With the combined efforts of these bodies, DEA withdrew the ‘notice of intent’ which meant to place kratom into Schedule 1 Controlled Substances. As of now, kratom is legal in most parts of the country but it is not regulated by the FDA.
Current Use Of Kratom
Ironically enough, kratom’s popularity saw the biggest spike when DEA threatened to ban it for sale and possession. Kratom is thought to be one of the substances that belong to the list of ‘legal high substances’. Since 2011, the number of vendors selling different kratom products has grown rather rapidly. In terms of kratom usage, if we take anecdotal reports – most people claim it helps them with physical discomfort. A large chunk of users feels kratom helps ease their anxiety. The other most common usage obviously remains as that of a recreational herb.
Pharmacology of Mitragyna Speciosa
Although kratom leaves carry several active compounds and phytochemicals, their real strength comes from the alkaloids 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine. In terms of chemical structure, mitragynine looks a lot like ergine (LSA) and psilocybin. Earlier, this particular alkaloid was thought to be the primary active compound. However, more recent research shed light on another active terpenoid 7-hydroxymitragynine. It is supposed to be 46 times stronger and more potent than mitragynine with much better bioavailability. It’s also supposed to have great blood-brain barrier penetration.
What To Expect
If we talk about kratom’s intake in the form of powder (plain dried leaves), a moderate dose should consist of 3-6 grams. Anything over 5 grams is seen as ‘strong’. Most would take it with juice or plain water. It’s worth mentioning that strength and potency of kratom powder or any other product for that matter can vary significantly based on the strain type, supplier, etc. That’s why different people may have a different profile of effects upon consuming.
On an average, kratom effects remain apparent for around 20 minutes when consumed on an empty stomach. The effects may intensify slowly and can last anywhere between 2-4 hours. A strong dose could have a short onset of effects. The most pleasing effects of kratom are generally noticed when the doses are small. Most accounts list kratom’s effects by characteristics like a sudden onset of motivation, a heightened sense of sociability, and a sudden boost in energy. Some people find themselves more talkative after taking kratom. In terms of side-effects, kratom could cause sweating, dysphoria, nausea, dizziness, etc.
At higher doses, kratom can lead to a diminished physical sensation. Some people may find themselves feeling zen-like and contented. Some call their state of being as ‘waking-dreaming’.
Let it be known that different people may have a unique experience with kratom. Key factors governing those effects are kratom strain, quality, type of product, dosage, consumption method, etc. Not only is it important to start out with a small kratom dose, one should also have realistic expectations in terms of the effects.
Some people feel thirsty on the onset. To avoid that, stay hydrated. If you feel a sense of nausea, just wait for it to pass. First-time users should swallow kratom little by little instead of gulping it down in one go in an effort to avoid the bitter taste. As mentioned earlier, new users are advised to start with extremely low dose, possibly 1-2 grams. Each dose should be measured accurately and weighed against the range of effects.
Some kratom products may contain adulterants like fentanyl, hydrocodone, and morphine, therefore, it’s super important to check the source of product and only buy it from a reliable vendor.