Kratom: Background and History
Kratom or, Mitragyna speciosa is a tree native to Thailand and Malaysia, made notable due to its opiate-similar biochemistry making it an effective painkiller, among many other effects of the plant. Effects are derived through of the leaves of the Kratom tree and are consumed in a variety of fashions. The most common is to simply pluck fresh leaves and chew them a bit like gum, and swallow the leaf essence as you go, or to use fresh leaves to make a tea. Although fresh leaves are preferred by native imbibers of the Kratom plant, dried leaves are often used, as well as powdered leaf extracts, both of which can be purchased from a variety of online vendors at reasonable prices.
The history of Kratom is vast, as it is a naturally growing native tree in Thailand (the country of its most heavy use) and has seen use for centuries for a variety of ailments, from headaches to diarrhea and even in rare cases to increase sexual performance. Interestingly enough, Kratom is legal everywhere in the world except Thailand, the country where it is primarily grown.
This seemingly absurd embargo is due not to any danger from the plant, which is regarded as safe, but because of its similarity to opiates. The Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board had this to say on the subject:
"In Thailand, kratom was first scheduled for control in 1943 under the Kratom Act. At the time, the government was levying taxes from users and shops involved in the opium trade. Because of the increasing opium costs, many users were switching to kratom to manage their withdrawal symptoms. However, the launch of the Greater East Asia War in 1942 and declining revenues from the opium trade pushed the Thai government into action to curb and suppress competition in the opium market by making kratom illegal."
That embargo stands to this day, though it is not highly enforced, leaving Kratom use in Thailand similar to recreational Cannabis use in California.
How it Works
Kratom works due to two active chemical ingredients: mitraphylline, and 7-hydroxymitragynine, both of which are very similar to the chemical makeup seen in Opium. The key differences are these, where opium is highly addictive and easily overdosed upon, Kratom has shown no record of addictive qualities and is very difficult to overdose on. (An overdose of Kratom would be a consumption of nearly 20 grams of powdered leaf, which would amount to over a gallon and a half of Kratom Tea.)
This chemical makeup, paired with the relative safety associated with Kratom use makes it an excellent option for anyone looking for an herbal solution to their pain management needs. Kratom has been used for everything from chronic pain management, to headache relief by the Thai for hundreds of years.
In small doses Kratom oddly gives users a feeling of relaxation paired with heightened energy, in moderate doses users report relief of pain with an exaggerated feeling of relaxation, and in higher doses users report a heavy relaxed feeling paired with a relief of any and all pain similar to an average dose of Vicadin or Hydrocodone.
Traditionally Kratom tea is considered to be the best method for imbibing the plant, made by boiling two or three of the leaves in water, straining, and repeating until the water comes out clear. While effective this tea is very bitter, and unpleasant to drink. Luckily in modern times there are many more options for Kratom use, including capsules, pre-made tea bags (which taste much nicer) extracts that can be mixed with water and drunk like a shot, and even paste which can be chewed and swallowed. While all of these methods yield results, powered leaves, extracts, and capsules seem to be the most effective, cheapest and easiest to use. All of these products and many more besides can be found at a variety of reputable online vendors that will deliver to your front door, usually in less than a week.
A final note, while Kratom is unregulated and therefore ‘legal’ everywhere there have been some unsubstantiated reports of people mixing Kratom with alcohol, or other painkillers and thus having overdose effects similar to an opiate overdose. Please be responsible.