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All You Need to Know About Kratom

What is Kratom?

Kratom Leaves Photo

Kratom is an herbal leaf from a tree of the Rubiaceae family. It was first documented by Pieter Korthals, a Dutch colonial botanist. Korthal gave the genus Mitragyna due to the similarity of the stigma of the plant to a bishop's mitre.

The Mitragyna speciosa or kratom trees grow as tall as 12-30 feet and 15 ft wide. Its dark green colored leaves can grow up to 7 inches long and 4 inches wide. All through out its flowering stage, the growing florets are completely surrounded and covered by copious overlapping bracteoles. The leaves fall or grow depending on the season. During rainy season, the leaves grow abundantly while in dry season, the leaves fall.

Kratom contains alkaloids including mitraphylline, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These alkaloids act as mu-opioid receptor antagonist. Due to this function, the kratom is use as an alternative to opiates for those people suffering from opium dependence. The therapy starts in a low dosage then gradually decreasing and then finally withdrawn. Symptoms of withdrawal from kratom is milder compared to opium. Mitragyna also is use as stimulant and depressant. It is use as sexual enhancer thus, improving their sexual activity. It is also use as a treatment for some illness such as diarrhea and pain. The kratom leaves are either boiled or used as a tea or chewed and smoke. Its effect can cause calmness of mind.

Kratom, due to its effects is a controlled substance in some countries including Thailand, Australia, Bhutan, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Lithuania, Myanmar and Malaysia. There are some countries that are still studying the properties of the plant and its effects. Some include Kratom in their laws such as the Regulation Laws. According to Thai books, kratom is a milder substance compared to morphine and less harmful than cocaine.

History of Kratom

Drying Kratom Leaves Photo

In certain South East Asian countries including Malaysia and Thailand, a certain tree is very abundant and has always been available. The Kratom tree also known as "Thom" or "Ketum" is a tall tree that belongs to the Rubiaciae family. The kratom tree has dark green, oval shape leaves with clustered yellow flowers. The leaves of the kratom tree are used by traditional cultures such as Malaysians and Thai for medicinal purposes for over centuries now. Mitragyna speciosa, kratom's scientific name was given by a Dutch botanist Pieter Korthals.

Kratom contains alkaloids that said to have effects on the brain. Native regions in South East Asia use the leaves of kratom in treating diarrhea. The leaves were boiled and served as a tea. Fresh leaves also are use as smoking and chewing substances. Due to the alkaloid contents of the kratom, special attention is being given to the studies for further development and knowledge about the kratom. Although there is no clear explanation on how the alkaloids on the kratom work, they were proven to be effective stimulants and depressants. Some natives used the kratom as sexual enhancers, improving their sexual activity and intercourse. When it comes to drug dependence and addiction, kratom is use in the rehabilitation process of patients suffering from opiates dependence. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates are very dangerous and due to the similarities of the effects of kratom to opiates and with a safer and milder withdrawal symptom from the leaves, kratom is use as an opiate alternative. Studies proven that it can also enhance one's sleep and it can calm the mind. Shamans and folks of old times used kratom for a very long time without any record of adverse effects. But in recent studies, it was proven that kratom has the capacity to be abused. In certain countries such as Canada, kratom is being studied and still on the process of regulation. Ancient texts and records are not that available about kratom making kratom a sort of "exotic" tree.

Scientific Name and Uses of Kratom

Kratom Powder on Banana Leaf Photo
  • NAME: Kratom
  • Other Names: Kratom, Kakuam, Ithang, Thom, Ketum
  • Scientific Name: Mitragyna speciosa
  • Family: Rubiaciae
  • Genus: Mitragyna
  • Species: speciosa
  • Effect Classifications: Stimulant, Depressant, Intoxicant

The Kratom plant is characterized by its alkaloid content: mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These two alkaloids are the primary contributor of the effects of the plant. Kratom is widely used in South East Asia for centuries now. Mitragyna speciosa is used in different countries in several ways. Due to its narcotic effects and its function to the opioid receptors, the kratom plant is use as an alternative to opiates to people suffering from opium addiction. The kratom plant can minimize and control the withdrawal symptoms in opiate dependent individuals. In the United States and Europe, kratom is use as treatment to certain ailments particularly pain, anxiety, depression and withdrawal to drugs. In Southern Thailand, kratom is use as a substitute for heroin to stop the dependence on the said drug. In 2005, some individuals tried to create a cocktail using kratom leaves as its base. They boil the leaves and create a tea base and added Coca Cola, cough syrup and ice. This was used for recreational purposes. In other cultures, kratom is use as a sexual enhancer, improving sexual intercourse and increasing libido. Some use the leaves to treat diarrhea. Some also use kratom as a sedative by using a low, controlled dose. The effects of the plant can cause calmness of mind. It can also use as a stimulant. Reports show that kratom can provide euphoria, a feeling of happiness, activeness, strength and desire to work. That is why it has a history that the main users of kratom are laborers and workers. The use of low dosage kratom has no reported side-effects although certain side-effects were reported if taken in a frequent, regular, high dose in a long period of time.

Scientific Studies of Kratom

Kratom Leaves in Jars Photo

A lot of people are giving attention to the Kratom leaves. Certain companies including scientific groups and pharmaceuticals are conducting studies on the composition, properties and effects of kratom in humans. Kratom is widely available now in the market due to its accessibility in the internet. Reports showed that the substance is being abused due to the effects that it can provide to its users. In the United States of America, Japan and in South East Asia, certain clinical studies are being conducted to further examine the kratom leaves.

Until now, the effects of kratom are not yet fully understand. Recent studies just revealed that the kratom leaves have alkaloids that can affects the mu-opioid receptor of the brain. Alkaloids like mitragyne can give a certain effects such as stimulating and depressing traits. Although, the process on how these alkaloids work and affect one's behavior is yet to discover.

It has been proven that kratom can be a great pain killing agent although there are no commercially available pills or preparations that are made from kratom leaves. It has also been established that kratom can lessen the withdrawal symptoms of those people with opiate and morphine dependence. Kratom serves as an alternative to opiates in the rehabilitation therapy and provides milder withdrawal symptoms compared to those of opiates. For this, scientists see kratom as a future drug that can be utilize as a substance to combat drug addiction and dependence. It has also been proven that kratom is a good stimulant. Future efforts are being formulated to produce strong and effective kratom-based antidepressants. But this plan is still going to take a long way for we still need to have an in-depth studies and understanding of the mood and behavioral activities of the brain and its receptors. There are also some efforts in creating kratom-based cosmetics. Aside from the fact that kratom can affect the mind, studies shows that it can also affect the body if applied topically. Future skin rejuvenating creams and lotions are looking forward in the future.

The Benefits of Kratom

Kratom Powder Photo

Mitragyna speciosa more commonly known as kratom has been used for over centuries now by the natives of South East Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. The kratom tree is abundant and a native to these countries. Today, the health and medical world is giving attention to kratom. Independent studies from different laboratories are being conducted to study the effects of kratom to human consumption. In the studies, kratom contains alkaloids that have effects on the human mind. It has stimulating, depressing and intoxicating effects. Pharmaceuticals are exerting some efforts in creating kratom-based medicines such as topicals and pain relievers. The leaves are smoked, chewed and prepared as teas by boiling.

Taking kratom in a controlled, low dose certain benefits are said to be acquired. Kratom was used by jungle people to restore their lost energy. They say that kratom can restore energy, making you active and stronger. The natives Thai used the leaves of kratom to treat diarrhea and muscle pain. Others say that it can lower blood pressure suitable for people with hypertension. It also contains a substance called epicatechin, a substance found in dark chocolates that can promote good health. Mitragyna is said to be a good stimulant therefore others use it as sexual enhancer to improve their sexual activity. It is also use to treat people having depressions. Kratom can create a soothing effect, relaxing and calming the mind. They also used kratom to protect them from extreme effects of the sun by stimulating the production of melanin. Some users of kratom say that they use kratom as tea to lose weight for it has effect to the appetite. Definitely, kratom is such a discovery and it has a great future in the world of health that's why the health and drug industry is investing time and money for it.

The Dangers of Kratom

Mitragyna speciosa or Kratom is having its fame today. The kratom tree is large tree native to South East Asian countries particularly Thailand and Malaysia. The natives used the leaves of kratom for medicinal purposes such as dealing with pain and treating diarrhea. In rehabilitation, people who are dependents on opiates and morphine are experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drugs. Medical approach was proven to use kratom as an alternative to opium and morphine. It was proven that giving kratom in low dose then gradually lessened until total withdrawal results to milder and safer withdrawal symptoms compared to withdrawal symptoms from morphine and opiates. There are other benefits that kratom claims to provide. They say that kratom is a great stimulant therefore the natives used it as a sexual stimulant, improving and enhancing their sexual activity. It can also create a mild effect for the minds. All of these effects are made possible by the alkaloid contents of kratom such as mitragyne.

The kratom leaves are chewed, smoked and boiled as tea by the natives. They have used the leaves for a long period of time now and no records show that someone had suffered negatively in taking kratom. There are no official records about addiction to kratom but they say that dependence to it is possible. Taking kratom in low doses is safe but ingesting higher dose regularly for a long time may produce undesirable results. The body may develop a tolerance against the alkaloids found in mitragyna, creating a need to increase the dose to achieve the desired effects. There is an overdose of kratom. Some say that an individual may experience hallucinations, nausea, delusion, tremors, coordination problems and restlessness. Daily intake of kratom for a long time may result to skin darkening, aggression, nervousness and constipation. Kratom is not recommended to be use by people having schizophrenia, cardiac, renal, ulcers, hepatic problems, low blood pressure and pregnant women.

Side Effects of Kratom

Woman with Headache Photo

Mitragyna speciosa or Kratom is widely used in South East Asia for over centuries now. As of now, there are no serious risks, danger or side effects in taking Kratom in small, infrequent doses. The alkaloid content of Kratom, Mitragynine is responsible for the characteristic effects of the plant. The alkaloid has an effect on the opioid receptors of the brain which are responsible to one's anxiety and mood. Kratom works in a similar way just like opium and heroin in providing a sense of euphoria.

Kratom is not addictive and has a stimulating effect although in a higher dose, it can cause significant narcotic effects. Some cultures use Kratom to enhance sexual intercourse and as a treatment for diarrhea. It is also used as an opium alternative and as an opium moderator for addictions.

When Kratom is taken in a frequent, regular higher dosage for a long period of time, some side effects can be experienced by the user. Such side effects include nervousness, skin darkening, constipation and aggression. Some cases also reports nausea, loss of libido, dryness of mouth, increase or decrease urination, vomiting and prolonged sleep. If take for a long time, it can cause anorexia and weight loss, insomnia and drug dependence. It is easy to have drug tolerance to Kratom, seeking for a higher dose to maintain or receive the same or desired effects leading to dependence. Overdose to Kratom is also possible. Over-dosage of Kratom may result to aggression, nausea, tremors, delusions, hallucinations and problems in motion coordination. People who have low blood pressure, schizophrenia, renal failures, ulcers, hepatic problems and pregnant women are contraindicated to take Kratom.

In today's continuous studies of Kratom, there are no specific side effects that are fatal and irreversible in nature. There are still side effects of Kratom that are yet to be discovered so progressive studies about the alkaloids found in the plant are ongoing to prevent fatal effects to frequent users.

Kratom Analysis in Urine as Market for Substance Abuse

Kratom or Mitragyna speciosa is an herbal leaf that has been used over centuries now by people of the Southern and Center Thailand and Malaysia. The leaves of the kratom tree contain alkaloids like mitragyne that has opiate like effects. Due to its functions, it is use as an alternative to opium and morphine in treating individuals suffering from dependence and addiction. Kratom is given to drug dependents in a low and controlled dosage until total withdrawal from the drug. Kratom withdrawal has a milder withdrawal effects compared to opium and morphine. Kratom although safe when taken in a low dose can also be detrimental when taken in a consistent, higher dose for a period of time. Thus, addiction and dependence to kratom is also possible.

Studies were conducted to identify the alkaloid contents of kratom, its effects and its presence to urine as markers for substance abuse. In a specific study, a volunteer kratom user for almost 40 years collected his urine sample within a specified time. He recorded the time of collection and the amount or dosage of kratom intake. Four different preparations were done using fresh kratom leaves and tea from fresh leaves and dried kratom leaves and tea extracted from dried kratom leaves.

A sample of 8 gram kratom leaves taken from both dry and fresh leaves were tested with 10 ml 25% ammonia and then alkalized to certain levels. The tests revealed that kratom alkaloid found in fresh kratom leaves can also be found in dried kratom leaves and in kratom teas. Certain levels of the said alkaloid are found in the urine. In the conclusion, the alkaloids found in the urine as markers are mitragynine and speciogynine. The urine extraction process is simple and provides extracts suitable for GC-MS analysis.

Kratom's Legalities

Mitragyna speciosa also known as Kratom is a large tree belonging to the Rubiciae family native to South East Asian countries like Thailand and Malaysia. Kratom was used as medicinal herb by native cultures treating certain ailments like pain and diarrhea. Kratom is not yet fully understood regarding with its composition, effects and functions. The kratom tree is abundant to Thailand; they don't need to be cultivated because they are already accessible. The leaves of kratom are chewed, smoked or boiled and used as tea by the natives. Ancient Thais and other Asian cultures used kratom for a long time for almost over centuries now.

The chemical composition of kratom reveals that the leaves contain alkaloids such as mitragyne that has effects to the mu-opioid receptor of the brain. According to studies, kratom has stimulating, intoxicating and depressing effects. Although the exact functions on how the alkaloids of kratom really works and how they affect the brain is not yet fully understand but still, scientists believe that it can be use as a medicinal or a drug substance. Individuals having opiates and morphine dependence and addiction are suffering symptoms of withdrawal when there is an abrupt or sudden stoppage of intake of the said drugs. Researches proved that kratom can be use as an alternative to opiates and morphine to lessen the risks of withdrawal symptoms. Kratom can provide lesser and safer withdrawal symptoms compared to opiates and morphine. Kratom is given in a controlled, low dose and then the dose is lessened until total withdrawal. Kratom although no reports or records about negative effects, if given and taken in higher dosage, taken regularly or everyday for a long period of time said to have side effects including addiction thus, making kratom another substance to be abuse. Due to this reason, the legalities of kratom are being question by the governments of different countries. Independent studies about kratom are being conducted for the aim of establishing grounds in regulating or prohibiting the use of the substance. Different countries have different laws against drugs. In Canada as well as other nations, kratom is not yet still regulated. In kratom's native land, Thailand, mitragyna is illegal. Even possessing a certain amount or dosage of kratom is punishable by their laws. Let's have a little study about Thailand's law concerning kratom.

Brief History

  • The first regulation for opium in Thailand was proclaimed in 1930. This gave power and authority to officers to arrest traffickers and dependents of the drug until they overcome the addiction.
  • The Morphine and Cocaine Act B.E. 2456 (1913) inhibits the importation of morphine and cocaine in the kingdom.
  • Narcotics Act B.E. 2465 (1922) was created as a result of the International Opium Convention attended by Thailand in Hague, Netherlands in 1914. The law controls all the action for narcotics such as importation, possession, sale, production and consumption.
  • The Cannabis Act was declared in 1934 to protect the citizen from cannabis addiction.
  • The Kratom Act was promulgated in 1939 to control the propagation and harvest of Kratom trees.

There are a lot of laws in Thailand concerning narcotics where kratom falls in the said category. These laws regulate and control kratom in its production, possession, importation and sales. This is mainly because of the narcotic effects that kratom can provide.

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