Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa)

What is Kratom

Kratom is a spice made from the leaves of a Thai tree. In Thailand it has been in use for some time due to its medicinal function. Since a few years it has been popular in the west, mainly due to its narcotic effect. Kratom has a strong effect on your mood and energy. It gives a feeling of happiness and power and will incite activity. On a low dose, it is euphoric and stimulating however, on high dose it has a calming effect.

The medicinal effect of the leaves is first described by the Dutch Pieter Korthals in 1835. In 1943 the tree was forbidden in its country of origin, Thailand. Nowadays it is bred in several countries outside of Thailand. Therefore the effects can differ due to other ways of processing and mixing leaves.
Over 25 different alkaloid have been found in kratom leaves, of which mitragynine is probably the most important. Mitragynine is related to substances in psychedelic drugs. Kratom, however, does not have a psychedelic effect. It has the narcotic use of opium and, like other opiates, has a sexual lust enhancing effect. Most users report an increase in mood, the disappearance of fear and a feeling of total relaxation. High doses can cause long-lasting sleep. Kratom is a psychoactive tree with lots of different uses.  Lately, the recreational use of kratom has become more and more popular worldwide due to its narcotic effect. Traditionally however, kratom was only used in Thailand and some parts of Malaysia. Other than kratom (or krathom) it is known as ithang, kakuam and, in the south, thom. In Malaysia it is called ketum or biak. The traditional use has such a long history that the beginning cannot be determined.

Medical use
In traditional medicine the Thai used kratom to battle diarrhea. A small group of people use kratom to enhance or extend sexual lust.

Kratom as an opium substitute
In Asia when opium is scarce, or to control an opium addiction, kratom is often used as an opium substitute. Because of the mitragynine the addict would slowly rehabilitate from opium. Within days the addict will stop using the drug, while the mitragynine, which is binding to the delta receptors in the brain, would lessen the need and the withdrawal symptoms. Mitragynine might also be used for addicts who don’t want to stop, but want to control their addiction. Some time ago there has been a kratom experiment with methadone addicts in New Zealand. For six weeks the addicts had to smoke kratom the moment they were suffering from withdrawal symptoms. The rehab patients reported strong visuals in the form of vivid dreams in their sleep. In 1999 Pennapa Sapcharoen, the director of the National Institute of Thai Traditional Medicine in Bangkok reported that kratom could be used as a medicine for opium addicts and people with depressions. However he emphasized that more research was necessary.

Depression and fear
According to several sources, mitragynine also has an effect on mood and anxiety. A number of chemical substances in the brain determine your mental condition. The most famous of these is serotonin. Most antidepressants affect the production of this substance, but the effects of serotonin are relatively weak compared to other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and opiates, that have a very strong effect on how you feel. The reason that most chemical drugs affect serotonin levels is because it is not addictive. However, there is evidence that suggests a lack of opiates have a greater effect on depression and anxiety than a lack of serotonin. Mitragynine could play a role here. It is well known that kratom has a positive effect on your mood, but there are no studies as to its long-term use.

WARNING: Depression and anxiety are chronic diseases and if you suffer from these, you should consult a doctor. Do not give kratom to children!

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Adult (ADHD in adults)
There are reports that kratom can also be used to treat the symptoms of ADHD with adults but there is still relatively little information. The stimulating and euphoric effects could be an effective remedy for ADD. Again: Do not give kratom to children!

Traditionally stimulating substance
Kratom, and more specifically mitragynine, is known for its positive effect on the mood. It also stimulates the body, making it more active. Traditionally, kratom is used by Thai farmers and workers as a stimulant to endure hard work and their poverty-stricken existence. These people use kratom nearly every day. Some studies show no addiction problems in villagers using kratom, while others do. Heavy kratom users chew 3 to 10 times a day. Most new users only need a few leaves to achieve the desired effect, while others increase the dose over time to 10 to 30 leaves per day and sometimes even more.

Some claim that in some parts of the country, parents prefer their daughter to marry a man who is a kratom user rather than a marijuana user. It is believed that kratom users are hardworking, while marijuana users are lazy. This belief is sustained by many users who claim to have started using because they wanted to work more efficiently and claim the drug gives them a strong desire to do so. The Thai government has banned the use of kratom and the plant in the same category as cocaine and heroin. Consequently, kratom has the dubious honor of being banned in the country where it comes from and has been used for centuries.

Recreational use
In recent years, kratom has become increasingly popular as a drug, due to its narcotic effects that cause a euphoric feeling, somewhat similar to that of opiates - but not as strong. It is a good alternative to real narcotics because the possession and use is still permitted in most countries (click here for the exceptions), and it is not highly addictive. There are various ways of taking kratom. The effects are stimulating and euphoric to most users and for some relaxing and analgesic. According to some users, you feel euphoric and yet energetic enough to function normally. Most sources report a stimulant in lower doses, which turns into a calming effect in higher doses. Headaches and slight nausea are possible negative effects of kratom, however both usually go away after a while. There are a number of other negative effects of kratom known, which are noticeable especially after a longer period of regular use.

Kratom has a strong effect on your mood and your energy. It reduces anxiety, while you feel happy, strong, and active, with a calm mind and a strong desire to do work. Thai workers use it every day to get through another day of labor. The effects occur 5 to 10 minutes after use and can last for several hours. Most people describe the effects as stimulating and euphoric at lower doses, which turns into a calming effect in higher doses. This can be explained by mitragynine stimulating the delta opioid receptors in small quantities, but as the dose increases, it increasingly stimulates the mu-opioid receptors. These are the same receptors that are stimulated when using opiate drugs. Although the main alkaloids in kratom are related to psychedelic substances, kratom seems to have no psychedelic effects. The main effects are similar to those of opiates: painkilling and cough suppressant, but also narcotic and euphoric. These effects are roughly comparable to codeine. Some sources claim that kratom, like other opiates, enhances sexual desire in women and reduces erection problems. The positive effect of mitragynine on the mood and reduced anxiety are probably responsible for this. Other effects of mitragynine are decreased muscle tone, local anesthesia and depression of the central nervous system. Direct possible negative effects include: dry mouth, increased urination, loss of appetite and constipation. Unlike opiates, mitragynine does not usually cause nausea or vomiting. Heavy use can result in mild lethargy.

Different types of kratom
The reason that different types of kratom have different effects is genetic makeup, which alters the amount of alkaloid and formation.

Bali: According to users, the Bali kratom gives users a narcotic and very relaxing effect at higher doses, while it has a very stimulating effect at lower doses.

Thai: Kratom from Thailand is said to be the species with the longest lasting effect, and is also the most numbing of all types of kratom. Today Thai kratom is grown in other countries, since it was forbidden and put on the list of prohibited plants a few years ago. A normal dose of Thai kratom is between 3 and 5 grams.

Malaysia: Kratom from Malaysia is, according to users, virtually identical to Bali kratom.

Maeng Da
: (Thai) Maeng Da means "pimp grade”, and originates from Thailand. It is the strongest kratom species available. Users state that Maeng Da feels less euphoric than other types, but particularly emphasize the incentive effects. Critics feel more rushed than other premium varieties when using Maeng Da, and feel that its effect does not last very long. The active dosage is 1-2 grams. High quality Maeng Da has a green color.

Kratom can be chewed, smoked or drunk as tea. The latter is the most pleasant way. For regular use put 5-10 grams of crushed leaves in hot water and take some time to steep. (This can also be combined with a (herbal) tea). If necessary, add honey or sugar. A stronger substance can be obtained as follows:

1) Take 50 grams of dried, crushed kratom leaves and put them in a pan, add 1 liter of water.

2) Boil for 15-20 minutes.

3) Filter so only the liquid remains, also squeeze the leaves.

4) Put the leaves back into the pan with fresh water and repeat steps 2 and 3 (only then all the working substance is out and the leaves can be discarded).

5) Put all the liquid together and cook until about 100 ml is left.

It is possible to make your own extract to save some time. You do this by boiling the dried leaves for some time until they boil down to a kind of pasta. Small pieces of this extract (that is sold in some stores in this form) can be swallowed, or possibly dissolved in hot water as tea.

The amount that you need for a trip is highly dependent on the strength of the kratom. For novice users, 5-10 grams of leaves should be enough. When powder or extract is used, you should use half those amounts. More experienced users will feel the need to increase the dosage after a certain time.