The tropical tree kratom is known officially by its scientific name Mitragyna Speciosa and its various slang names such as Ketum, Kray, Ktom, Tum-Tums, Biak-biak, Ithang, Thom, Herbal Speedball and Kahuam.
As a member of the coffee family, kratom is legal in most of the world and is easy to order online. It is sold in a range of forms such as powder, capsules, tincture, resin and extracts — with the powder being the safest and most popular.
This herbal treatment holds a range of benefits ranging from controlling the symptoms of withdrawal, to eradicating depression and social anxiety. It boosts energy levels and ups your concentration, while strengthening the immune system and helping to relieve pain throughout the body. There are very few side effects (but they’re possible) and this miraculous plant has been used for hundreds of years.
The following article will take closer look at what is kratom — providing you with a good baseline of information plus various resources so you can deepen your understanding of the plant.
The Origins of Mitragyna Speciosa
Kratom is a tropical evergreen tree which is native to Southeast Asia. It grows indigenously in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea. Across these regions, it has been used extensively for its opioid properties and stimulant effects. Traditional medicine across Southeast Asia has used kratom for everything from managing chronic pain to reducing inflammation, beating addiction, and even for fun.
Kratom cultivation requires a warm, tropical environment, mimicking that of Southeast Asia’s dense, temperate interior. The humidity needs to be high — akin to what you would expect from Thailand, the birth place of Mitragyna Speciosa.
Seeds can be notoriously hard to obtain, while you need to grow it in bulk in order to have enough plant matter to use it to its full potential. The only way to grow kratom indoors is with a large greenhouse and extremely rich soil. Its natural environment is very hard to mimic, making most pure kratom imported.
Pharmacology of Kratom
The main active compounds in kratom are present in the highest quantity in the leaves. Some chew the leaves themselves, or even smoke them. They can also be brewed into a tea, although powdered kratom is most common. Taken either as is or mixed into food, Kratom powder is typically sold in bulk volumes or as capsules for easy administration.
Research shows that kratom is similar to morphine and other opiates. It acts as an opioid receptor agonist, binding to opioid receptors in the brain. They then mimic the structure of endogenous endorphins found in the body. The opioids, in this case, kratom, mimic pain releasing endorphins, endorphins responsible for feelings of pleasure, and endorphins released for a sedative effect.
These endorphins are naturally released as a response to pain, orgasm, excitement, or rigorous physical exertion. Both mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are partial agonists with high binding affinity toward the µ- and κ-receptors.
Kratom is different from other opioids in the sense that it has an affinity towards the serotonin, norepinephrine, and k-opioid receptor systems. This is mainly what contributes towards the stimulant properties of kratom. Kratom also contains rhynchophylline and mitraphylline which act as N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDA receptors).
NMDA receptors excite neurotransmitters of cognitive functions such as memory and learning. Recreationally, drugs inhibiting the action of NMDA receptors are popular from their dissociative, hallucinogenic, and euphoric effects. The only time that dissociative effects occur from kratom use is at extremely high dosages.
Kratom leaves contain over forty different alkaloids, with chemical properties strongly resembling that of psychoactive drugs, but unlike LSD, psilocybin, and opiates, there are no psychoactive effects. One rather benefits from a range of stimulant and sedative effects, as well as main pain and inflammation relieving properties. The primary active constituents include the alkaloids mitragynine, mitraphylline, and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
Dried kratom contains between 1.2% and 2.1% mitragynine. This compound often termed a “legal opioid” is known to both improve your mood and give an analgesic effect. It acts upon opioid receptors in the brain, while also slightly elevating blood pressure levels. Mitragynine is a highly effective treatment for opiate withdrawal thanks to having a very high opioid agonistic activity.
Mitraphylline is a non-narcotic present in kratom and other herbal supplements such as Cat’s Claw. Its most prominent effect is the boost which it gives to your inflammatory response. Not only is mitraphylline excellent at relieving pain and inflammation, but research is also underway to confirm its efficacy at inducing apoptosis in breast cancer, leukemia, and sarcoma.
7-hydroxymitragynine is most responsible for the opiate-like effects of kratom, being a terpenoid indole alkaloid which is seventeen times higher in opioid agnostic activity than morphine. Yet it remains far milder than morphine, with far less (and less intense) side effects.
Various Alkaloids Present in Kratom
Studies show the following alkaloids to be the strongest present in kratom (in no particular order):
Ajmalicin: Cerebro-circulant, smooth muscle relaxer, anti-aggregant
7-acetoxymitragynine: Analgesic, anti-diarrheal, anti-tussive psychoactive
Corynantheidin: Opioid antagonist
Corynoxein: Calcium channel blocker
Corinoxin: Dopamie mediator
(-)-Epicatechin: Anti-Oxidant, anti-aggregant, anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-hepatitic, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, cancer preventative
Isomitraphylline: Anti-Leukemic, immune-stimulant
Mitragynine: Analgesic, anti-tussive, anti-diarrheal, adrenergic, 5-HT2A antagonist
Mitraphylin: Vasodilator, anti-hypertensive, diuretic, immuno-stimulant
Paynanthein: Smooth muscle relaxer
Rhynchophylline: Vasodilator, anti-hypertensive, calcium channel blocker, anti-inflammatory, anti-aggregant, anti-pyretic, anti-arrhythmic
Speciociliatin: Opioid agonist
Speciogynine: Smooth muscle relaxer
Tetrahydroalstonine: Alpha-2 anti-adrenergic, hypoglycemic
Different Kratom Strains
There are three basic strains of kratom, namely red, green and white. Strains with red veins work the best for pain and sedation. Those with green veins have a slightly more stimulating effect than kratom with red veins, and the green lasts the longest. White-veined kratom strains are the best for lifting energy levels and elevating your mood. They are the best stimulant.
Not everyone experiences the exact same effect from each strain. Some people find green more stimulating than white, depending on their individual body chemistry. Give them all a go and find the one which works best for you.
When you encounter a yellow or gold kratom, you have not found a vein color but rather a drying technique which results in a stimulant which is halfway between white and green. Purple kratom is typically a blend made by a vendor, containing up to eight various strands of kratom.
These blends are custom made for specific effects including wake-up blends, those designed for focus, and others engineered to highlight the best qualities of each strain used. Bentuangie is a type of fermented kratom which can be made from any color strand but these blends are typically the strongest type which you can get.
Beginners are recommended a dose of 1 gram. If this is too much for you, then halve it. Kratom can have a slow onset when first used. Give it at least 45 minutes before you assess how you are feeling. If you need a more pronounced level of stimulation, then add an additional 0.5 grams and wait another three-quarters of an hour. If you don’t find the right dose after a maximum of three doses, then stop for the day and start again with three grams to begin with.
You need to find the dose that you prefer for every strand that you try. Every person is different and every strand is different. If you can’t find a good dose within a maximum of 8 grams, then abandon the strand of kratom and revisit it at a later date.
Many users have felt nothing from a particular type of kratom only to try it after a few months and be remarkably surprised by the results. The less kratom you can get away with the better. The closer you get to your personal ceiling, the more profound the sedative effects and the lower the stimulation.
What Effects Can I Expect from Kratom?
Once you get your dosage right, you can expect kratom’s onset to bring you to a state of focused clarity and heightened alertness. Your energy levels will be higher, feelings of anxiety and social unrest will be lower, and you should benefit from better decision making as a result of your overall improved mental acuity. Kratom can also be taken to facilitate pain relief, and to induce sleep while lowering inflammation which speeds up the body’s healing process.
When you take kratom at a low dosage, it acts as a stimulant with effects being comparable to opiates and drugs such as methadone. Feelings of well-being are elevated and your general drive is higher. This great multi-purpose psychoactive stimulant and sedative is safe to use, completely natural, and has an average potency comparable to coffee, just with more of a lift and better health benefits.
Those suffering from liver and kidney damage should refrain from using kratom. It is fairly easy for the liver to process, yet if yours is under strain, then either start with a very low dose or avoid taking it at all. In addition, those suffering from or at risk of hypothyroidism should take kratom with care.
Dangerous combinations include taking kratom with 1,4-Butanediol, 2M2B, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, GHB/GBL, methaqualone, and opioids. The side effects can include severe muscle relaxation, total prolonged sedation, intense respiratory depression, and a range of amnesic effects. Kratom and depressants can even be fatal.
In addition, kratom should not be combined with other stimulants as this can cause an abnormal heartbeat, irregular and elevated perspiration, wide-spread agitation, and severe anxiety. Certain combinations can lead to dangerously high blood pressure, and heighten the risk of seizures. The only other common contraindication is very mild. Nicotine and kratom do not always work well together, at times leading to nausea and dizziness.
How Kratom is Used
You can use kratom in a range of ways, however, smoking and insufflating deliver low levels of bio-availability, and are thus considered a waste of the plant. Most users refer to “tossing and washing” as the most popular means of administration. This simply refers to putting the kratom powder into your mouth and then washing it down with a beverage without inhaling any.
You can put the powder either on or under the tongue. You can also mix the powder with water first, drinking it down as you would a shot, and then following up with another drink. Never use carbonated water or soft-drinks as this destroys the ever-valuable alkaloids.
Your other option is capsules, although they can be far more expensive than obtaining raw kratom powder. You should know that the onset when taking a capsule is much longer and you may need to take many capsules to hit your dose. Another great means to administer kratom is by making a tea.
Lemon and other acidic juices such as orange and white grapefruit juice, as potentiators and help to extract the alkaloids, while masking the taste as an added benefit. There are countless guides to tea preparation available and the onset is fairly rapid.
Recreational use of kratom is popular amongst unscrupulous individuals, with the onset starting in just five to ten minutes and lasting for between two and five hours. For this reason, kratom has become a controlled substance in sixteen countries. It is used as everything from a medication to a dietary supplement, even being mixed into cocktails of other psychoactive drugs.
The Far-Reaching Benefits of Kratom
Kratom holds a wide range of medical benefits. It is fantastic for pain relief, great at boosting energy levels, fantastic for upping your mental acuity, and you may even get a lift to your libido. Make sure that you take kratom on an empty stomach to be sure that you feel the full effect of your dose. Experiment until you find the quantity that suits you best and always remember that less is more with this highly effective multi-purpose supplement.
Kratom can be bought in large quantities without worrying about its shelf life. Keep it at any temperature far from moisture, keeping your kratom dry by avoiding condensation at all costs, and it will store well for many months. Always store your kratom in an airtight container in the direct path of sunlight as oxidization from sunlight makes Kratom stronger.
It is best to avoid kratom sold in head-shops as the quality and freshness can be questionable, while the prices are far higher than you should be paying.
While on Kratom be sure to drink extra water as you may not notice slight dehydration kicking in. When well-managed, this herbal supplement will strengthen your immune system and bring about a focused frame of mind from a positive place. There is no denying its effectiveness and users continue to be rewarded with surprisingly effective results.
Until next time,