Throughout the ages many plants and plant extracts have been used medicinally, especially in countries in Southeast Asia where traditional medicine is still practiced today.
The recent legalization of cannabis and cannabidiol – CBD – in many states of the USA has led to a change in the way such substances are used.
There is another product that is now legal to purchase in some states that is used similarly to the above. It’s called Kratom, and we believe you will hear a lot more about it in the near future.
What is Kratom used for, and what are the benefits of using it? Is it legal in your state, and is Kratom safe? These are questions we will answer in this beginner’s guide to Kratom.
What Is Kratom?
Kratom is the Thai name for the leaves of an evergreen tree called Mitragyna speciosa, a species native to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. The tree comes from the same family of plants as coffee and gardenia. Kratom has been used in these countries as a traditional medicine for many centuries.
In the USA, Kratom is used as a stimulant and for pain relief, but as we shall see later, it is illegal to use in many states. This is due to the quite unique effects that Kratom produces. Kratom has opioid properties. Smaller does result in stimulation, while greater doses will provide opioid-type depression and euphoria.
In traditional use in Thailand Kratom is taken to produce energy and stimulation, and to prevent fatigue. What is Kratom, and what are the benefits? That’s a question we will answer shortly.
How Is Kratom Ingested?
Kratom can be taken in many forms. The leaves can be chewed, or they are dried and smoked, much like cannabis. In the East it is often boiled and served like tea. It’s also available in capsules and tablets, and as a powdered extract. It is also supplied in liquid extract form.
There has been controversy regarding Kratom, yet its widespread use in Southeast Asia continues (although it is banned in some countries) and where legal in the USA it is becoming more popular.
Is Kratom Legal in the USA?
It is important to understand that Kratom is not illegal in the USA under federal law. However, certain states have banned its use and classified it as a schedule 1 substance. This means it has ‘a high potential for abuse. In what states is Kratom illegal? The following have declared it a schedule 1 substance:
- Rhode Island
Elsewhere Kratom remains legal to buy and use.
How Does Kratom Work?
As mentioned above, Kratom does have opioid properties. Laboratory analysis has proven there are around 20 alkaloids in Kratom. As with similar substances such as cannabis Kratom produces the various effects by reacting with ‘receptors’ in the body.
It is believed that the main active substance within Kratom is an alkaloid known as mitragynine. This is an alkaloid with a potency level some 13 times that of morphine. Researchers believe this is the substance that acts as a pain reliever.
What are the Benefits of Kratom?
We want to move on and explain how Kratom can be beneficial to users and describe how it may make you feel. We will also talk about the side-effects.
Before we list the many reported benefits of Kratom we should state that the FDA has not approved it for medicinal use. Yet, the sheer number of people using it for many different reasons and reporting its effects are compelling. Here are the most commonly reported benefits of using Kratom:
- Kratom is used widely as a stimulant, especially by workers in Southeast Asia. It is a natural energy booster and will stave off fatigue. It is believed that it also improves the blood flow.
- Kratom, as we have already discussed, is a known pain reliever. It is used to relieve migraines, muscular pain, arthritis pain, neurological pain, and headaches. Because of the pain relief effect Kratom is also an anti-inflammatory.
- Cognitive and mental ability are often reported as improved by persons talking Kratom. This is believed to be due to it containing Ajmalicine, which boosts blood flow to the brain.
- Many users have reported weight loss success by using Kratom. This is especially effective when served as tea.
- Opiate withdrawal using Kratom is quite commonplace. As a milder opiate Kratom replaces the original and can be used successfully to bring addicts off drugs.
- There are various strains of Kratom that have been reported to help reduce anxiety and stress. This is though to be due to the relaxing effect of the substance.
- Kratom is sometimes used in high doses to induce sleep. However, the effect of the higher dose can be a euphoric one in some people, and a depressant in others. It should be used with great care in all cases.
- Kratom in certain doses can be responsible for an adrenaline rush. This results in greater motivation and enthusiasm in the user.
- The blood flow boosting elements within Kratom are good for the health of the heart.
- Kratom is sometimes used as an aphrodisiac by persons having sexual performance problems. There are compounds within the plant that will deal with erectile disfunction and other sexual health problems.
The above are the often-reported benefits and uses of Kratom. It’s always worth remembering that what works for one person may not for another. The same is true of every medicinal drug.
Before we move and describe a Kratom user’s experience, please remember that you should not stop taking any prescribed medicines and replace them with Kratom without seeing a medical professional.
How Will Kratom Make Me Feel?
Clinical trials using Kratom are difficult to come by, yet there is plenty of research into the plant and its properties underway.
How will you feel when you use Kratom? That depends upon whether you take a smaller dose – as is usual – or indulge in a larger one for reasons of your own.
Kratom does have psychoactive properties. Used in smaller amounts it will induce stimulation, boost energy levels, and generally make the user feel better in themselves.
In larger doses it can be dangerous. Kratom acts on the central nervous system (CNS) and the more is taken, the stronger the effect will be. Too much can induce CBNS depression, which can be highly dangerous.
Anecdotal reports tell of a feeling of increased alertness to the world around them, a more social feeling, talkativeness, and a general boost in energy yet with a relaxed sense.
The effect and the feeling will differ between users, which is down to the biological and medical status of the user.
If you are new to Kratom, take it slowly and get advice from those who have experience with the substance.
What are the Side Effects of Kratom?
The possible side-effects of using Kratom are those of other opiate drugs with comparable properties. As we have already mentioned, it can be dangerous to take larger doses. Reported side effects include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Increased urination
- Loss of appetite
Less common side effects have also been mentioned, including addiction, withdrawal, hypothyroidism, and liver injury, aching of muscles and bones, and jerky limb movements. Chronic use of Kratom may also lead to psychotic effects including hallucinations, delusion, and a confused state of mind.
Liver damage has been linked to Kratom use yet in the eight cases where it was connected to the substance all patients recovered without the need for a transplant.
Is Kratom Dangerous?
If used without care and in too high a dosage Kratom – like all similar opioid substances – can be extremely dangerous.
Used as it is recommended for pain relief, stress and anxiety, and all other benefits we mentioned, Kratom is safe although to reiterate it has not been passed by the FDA for medicinal use.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Drug Class is Kratom?
Kratom is currently not classified by the FDA. However, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) lists Kratom as a ‘drug of concern.’ Kratom is a known opioid which can produce psychoactive effects. It is at once a stimulant, a sedative, an analgesic, and a euphoric. Kratom is unusual in that small and large doses can produce inverse effects in the user.
What is Kratom Made From?
Kratom is the Thai name for the leaves of an evergreen tree called Mitragyna speciosa, a species native to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. The tree comes from the same family of plants as coffee and gardenia. The leaves are either chewed or dried and smoked or boiled as a form of tea.
Does Kratom Affect Dopamine?
Like many herbal remedies, it is believed that Kratom influences the release of dopamine in the brain. As with all opiates, Kratom communicates with what are known as the opioid receptors in the brain, releasing the dopamine, and enhancing the mood of the user.