Kratom, derived from a Thai word for a species of tree known as Mitragyna speciosa, is a large tree in the Rubiaceae family that grows native in Southeast Asia. In the wild, the trees can grow higher than 60 feet and wider than 15 feet. The leaves can have either light or dark red veins, and the leaves can be either a light green or a dark green in color. The leaves are elongated and oval, with a straight vein from bottom to tip and symmetrical veins shooting off from the main vein. The tree has a very topical appearance, and grows in wet or marshy areas in Southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo and New Guinea. The Kratom tree produces round yellowish flower pods which contain around 50 seeds.
One of the earliest mentions of Kratom was by Pieter Korthals in the early 19th century, a Dutch Botanist who described its flowers as reminding him somewhat of a Bishop's mitre. Thus, he named this tree Mitragyna. In the time of Korthals, Kratom was a historically used remedy in Thailand. It was used as a cure all for various physical and mental ailments. The ancient history of Kratom is unknown, and sources describing its use prior to European Colonization are scarce. Regardless, there is little doubt that this tree had been used by the indigenous populations of Southeast Asia for millennia. Typically, Kratom is used by laborers or farmers who would use the leaves on the tree for energy while working, as Coffee drinkers use coffee in the morning or as a 'pick me up'.
In 1943, the Thai government passed the "Kratom Act 2486" essentially banning the Kratom tree. However, being as the trees as indigenous to Thailand, banning them would be comparable to banning Pine trees or Oak trees in the United States. The ban was totally unsuccessful, and use continued since. Although the effects of Kratom ingestion are comparable to that of Coffee in mildness, Kratom is classified in the same category as Cocaine and Heroin in some countries including Thailand. Possessing even an ounce of the leaf from this tree could be punished by death in Thailand. Although death sentences are rare, individuals who sell Kratom usually face up to several years in prison. Today, Kratom is grown in several countries in Southeast Asia as well as other tropical countries by individu-als hoping to propagate this great tree.
Today, most people can openly grow and possess Kratom without fear of punishment. However, as countries prohibit or outlaw Kratom, the qualities and the quality control are severely damaged. Right now, it is easy to buy powdered Kratom leaf for medicinal purposes without fear of it being tainted with other substances. However, if Kratom were to be outlawed in more countries then the black-market would put this to an end. As is always the case with black-market goods, individuals purchasing kratom could be in fear of buying something that is not Kratom at all and perhaps even something that is poisonous or deadly. Regulation is necessary, but prohibiting Kratom usage could do nothing but harm innocent users around the world.
The Kratom leaf is usually traditionally chewed, dried and powdered and then mixed with foods, or boiled into a tea. The leaf itself is what has the medicinal properties on the Kratom tree. The Kratom leaf contains numerous active alkaloids. One of the main alkaloids is known as Mitragynine, which comes from the name of the tree. Mitragynine is a mu-opioid receptor agonist. This means that it produces a physiological response when binding to the mu-opioid receptor. Another major alkaloid in the Kratom leaf is 7-Hydroxymitragynine, which is also a mu-opioid agonist. (Vicknasingam B, 2010) (Takayama H, 2002)
Kratom is used around the world today and it is usually sold in herbal shops, alternative medicine stores and also on the internet. Kratom users around the world live in constant fear of their medi-cine being outlawed by politicians seeking to demonize another herbal medicine. Politicians do this be-cause it makes them appear to be doing their job, protecting the people from another "dangerous plant". In reality, Kratom is totally safe when used in moderation and politicians rely on propaganda and false information to get their laws passed. One major problem associated with Kratom is that there are countless people out there who seek to do nothing more than earn a quick buck with this tree, and mix it with dangerous substances and then sell it as a "legal high". This is the most damaging thing that can happen to any herbal medicine, and Kratom is no exception. Kratom users around the world keep an eye out for greedy people who seek to claim Kratom is some "legal high". In reality, you don't get "high" from kratom anymore than you get high from Coffee. If anyone claims that Kratom makes you "high" then they must also claim that Coffee makes you "high" by the same logic.
Kratom is compared to coffee in many ways. Kratom comes from the coffee family; however instead of the beans being powdered and used the leaf is powdered with Kratom. Kratom is also similar to coffee in the mildness of its effects. Kratom produces calming effects, but also stimulating effects at the same time. The strength of these effects is exactly the same as Coffee is and at exactly the same amount. Though, one could argue that Coffee is much stronger since coffee must be diluted and mixed with water before used.
Is Kratom addictive? Well, people who claim that Kratom is addictive have never used it and know no one who has ever used it. Kratom is as addictive as coffee is. Now, having used Kratom for years and having used coffee for years, many can testify to this fact. Also, having spoken to countless Kratom users who are also coffee drinkers, this is always the situation. If anyone who has drank coffee for years and then tries to quit, it would be essentially the same for someone who has used Kratom for years and tries to quit. So, if you ever hear someone claim that "Kratom is addictive" then just say "Yeah, about as addictive as coffee!"
Is Kratom unhealthy? No. Not at all. While it is true that many people may have side effects from using Kratom, this is usually because they mixed it with other things or ate too much of it. Eating too much Kratom can produce nausea at mild levels. There have not been many valid long-term studies which have been studying the long-term effects of Kratom, but personal experience with people who have used for several years suggests that there are no long-term side effects. Kratom should not be consumed by people under the age of 18, on the same grounds that coffee should not be consumed by chil-dren. Consuming large amounts of Kratom can be dangerous, as can large amounts of coffee. Mixing Kratom with other substances is also not advised due to adverse effects.
(Nelsen JL, 2010)
Kratom is NOT comparable to alcohol. Kratom users can attest that driving while using Kratom is nev-er a problem. Someone who has eaten some Kratom and then drives, Kratom will have about as much as an effect on driving as 1 cup of coffee might have. Perhaps if a huge amount of Kratom is used be-fore driving, this might have a negative effect but this would also be true of Coffee as well. Kratom is CERTAINLY NOT comparable to any illegal drugs. Kratom, being compared to Coffee in terms of strength, would never compare to any hard illegal drugs.
Why do people use Kratom? People use Kratom for many reasons ranging from treating depression, anxiety, fatigue, chronic pain, migraines, etc. Kratom has many uses for many different ailments. Many people who use Kratom used to use more severe pharmaceutical drugs to treat their ill-nesses, but having experienced far too many side effects now use Kratom. I personally have used every anti-depressant under the sun and none worked and the side effects were all too severe for me to deal with. Kratom, however, essentially cures my depression when used on a regular basis in small amounts. Kratom has also been used by many people as a cure for addiction to various drugs, even including hardcore illegal drugs. The benefits of kratom are vast indeed!
(Boyer EW, 2008)
Who uses Kratom? What types of people use Kratom? The answer to this question is simple: All types of people use Kratom. Kratom is used by both upper and lower class, educated and uneducated, conservatives and liberals, all races and ethnicities and all ages. Kratom is not some teen-craze but is most commonly used by adults, a lot like Coffee. The same types of people who drink coffee also eat Kratom. For the same exact reasons. I've witnessed many many testimonies from individuals who use Kratom for many purposes and I would like to share some of them here in this article. Please read through these carefully and put yourself in the shoes of these individuals who are resorting to this natural plant to treat and/or cure many of their ailments.
(Takayama H, 2002)
There is a testimony from a woman who had been addicted to opiates because she was pre-scribed them for pain by a doctor. She was given dangerous pharmaceuticals to treat this addiction, which she also became addicted to and she stated that the withdrawal was worse for this pharmaceutical than it was for Morphine which she was previously addicted to. She wasn't able to work or pay her bills and accidentally stumbled upon this leaf from a tree called "Kratom". She was curious and, des-perate to try anything, and after using it for only a few weeks was totally cured of her addiction to pharmaceutical drugs. After a few weeks she went back to work, spent time with her children, and live her life. She trusted her doctor, but that trust was misplaced as he simply gave her a drug even more addicting than what she was already addicted to. She suffered in silence for years until finally discovering the benefits of Kratom. She is currently 100% drug free. She only uses Kratom a few times a month as a natural remedy to treat her PTSD. Now her daughters have a mother, and now this woman has her life back!
I've heard a testimony from a man who suffered from chronic pain due to an injury and, as a natural medicine supporter, this man sought a herbal remedy to his chronic pain. He stumbled upon Kratom which has essentially turned his life around. Instead of suffering from pain all day long, this man uses Kratom (In addition to other natural supplements as well as Ibuprofen and a good physical recovery workout routine) and he no longer has pain. It has vanished. This man could be currently addicted to dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, but he choose to use a natural alternative which is no more addictive than coffee.
I've heard another story from a man who became addicted to vicodin due to chronic pain at the age of 18. This person suffered severely from their addiction and eventually lost everything because of it. The dangerous narcotics were killing this man and after getting a health checkup he realized that he had to stop or he was going to die. Now how is he life after discovering Kratom? Great! He is married and now has children and lives a happy and healthy life. Kratom cured this man of his addiction to Vicodin and now he uses it to improve his own health. This life-saving tree has saved yet another person's life.
One of the most inspiring testimonies that I have heard is from a woman who served in the military, and I quote her story here:
"After serving in multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, I found myself suffering from not only physi-cal pain from multiple head injuries, as well as back and knee injuries. I left the Army and was given Oxycodone by the VA to help manage the pain. Despite trying to be careful about the use of this drug, I found myself craving it more and more. I also found that I would have severe mood swings while on it, not to mention the withdrawals if I decided not to take it for a day or ran out. When the Oycodone wore off the pain returned ten-fold, prompting me to take more. After years of using it, the effects lasted less than an hour. I was constantly tired and found it difficult to perform daily tasks. Without the drug, how-ever, I was often in too much pain to go about daily business. The Oxy also did nothing for the mi-graines caused by the brain injury nor did it help for the neuropathy. Life was pain-filled misery. A couple of years ago, I discovered Kratom and began substituting it for the Oxycodone. I found that, unlike the Oxy, I could take Kratom for a week or two straight without tolerance issues and then stop taking it without withdrawals. The more I substituted Kratom for Oxy while I was in pain, the less depression and mood swings I experienced. There was no nausea, tiredness, or rebound pain. I didn't crave Kratom or have to take it out of fear of withdrawal symptoms. I can take it on a day when the pain is bad and not take it the next few days or weeks without being sick and agitated like with the pre-scription drugs given to me by the VA. It demolishes the migraines and relieves pain from the nerve damage even. With no mental cloudiness or tiredness from Kratom, I can go about my life with relative ease and a semblance of normalcy. I have not renewed my Oxycodone prescription since May or June and had stopped taking them long before that. Kratom gave me my life back. I would really appreciate it if the government wouldn't take that away from me again...”
If this is not an inspiring testimony which attests to the pure benefits of Kratom, then I don't know what is. This story offers us a distinct look into what kind of people Kratom helps.
There is also a testimony from a law enforcement officer who uses Kratom to help with chronic pain. This officer, who serves his community diligently, is not allowed to take pain-killers on a regular basis and so must rely on natural alternatives like Kratom. Now Kratom is under threat of being banned in his state because of disinformation and ignorance. What will this man now do? That is the question we must all ask ourselves when we turn away from dangerous pharmaceuticals in exchange for safe natural remedies. It is only a matter of time until special interests outlaw them.
Today the future of this wonderful tree looks bleak indeed. Looking at the history of other herbal substances that have been outlawed for no valid reason at all, Kratom is just next inline to be victim to propaganda, ignorance and false information. What can be done about this? Keep an eye on Kraton in the news. Go to Google News and type in "Kratom" and keep an eye on the news revolving around Kratom. Any time you see false information in the news then simply E-mail those responsible for the incorrect articles and tell them the facts.
Don't let this wonderful medicinal leaf be outlawed because of propaganda, demonetization and false information! Stand up for your right to use medicines that are alternatives to dangerous pharmaceuticals! If you don't stand up now, in the future when you get sick you will be forced to use dangerous drugs with countless side effects sold by corrupt pharmaceutical companies! Either that or you'll be forced to suffer without any medicine.
Boyer EW, B. K. (2008). Self-treatment of opioid withdrawal using kratom (Mitragynia speciosa korth). Addiction, 1048-50.
Nelsen JL, L. J. (2010). Seizure and coma following Kratom (Mitragynina speciosa Korth) exposure. J Med Toxicol, 424-6.
Takayama H, I. H. (2002). Studies on the synthesis and opioid agonistic activities of mitragynine-related indole alkaloids: discovery of opioid agonists structurally different from other opioid ligands. J Med Chem, 1949-56.
Vicknasingam B, N. S. (2010). The informal use of ketum (Mitragyna speciosa) for opioid withdrawal in the northern states of peninsular Malaysia and implications for drug substitution therapy. Int J Drug Policy, 283-8.