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Mitragyna Speciosa – largely referred to as Kratom in English-speaking communities – is a tree grown primarily in Southeast Asia. It may be also known as biak-biak, ketum, kakuam, kraton, ithang, or thom in these indigenous regions.
It is in the coffee family (Rubiaceae) of flowering plants. Reports of medicinal kratom use in Southeast Asia go back as far as 1836 (Burkill, 1935). Some of its traditional applications include treating infection, muscle pain, and the suppression of coughing and diarrhea (Hassan et al., 2013).
Kratom generally comes in a powdered form. The leaves of the Mitragyna Speciosa trees are harvested, dried, and ground before being distributed and sold. Kratom extracts are also available. The most popular methods of ingestion include “toss-and-washing” (swallowing the powder with water), brewing the powder as a tea, or simply chewing the leaves.
For more information, see our full “what is kratom” page.
Kratom is still a widely misunderstood and under-researched drug. The risks associated with kratom use in moderation seem low, although long-term, chronic use may have more severe health effects. Most deaths associated with kratom have involved other drugs. Prolonged use of kratom may cause dry mouth, polyuria, anorexia, weight loss and frequent constipation in users . Individual user experience and reaction may vary greatly.
In rat studies, kratom’s most prevalent alkaloid – mitragynine – was found to be “relatively” safe at lower doses. However, toxicity was observed in the test group of rats exposed to the highest dose (100mg/kg) of mitragynine . It may be unclear exactly how this translates to the human body, but that same paper also described mitragynine as having a “wide safety margin” and that “…the average dose consumed by the kratom users (approximately 1mg/kg)” was a level of “safe consumption.” In other words, the kratom alkaloid mitragynine may be toxic at doses 100mg/kg or higher, but this would be far beyond normal consumption levels. The authors observed that, on average, users consumed an average of 67.5-75mg of kratom in juice form per day, equating to only an average of 1mg mitragynine/kg.
No, the term “opiate” is used to refer to substances derived from the opium poppy. This term is often used incorrectly to describe kratom. However, kratom could be described as an opioid – a broader term encompassing substances that bind to opioid receptors in the brain.
Kratom has been used in a variety of ways as a medicine. In Southeast Asia, kratom has been used as a treatment for wounds, drug addiction, diarrhea, diabetes, and chronic pain. In the western world, it is commonly used as a safer alternative to opioids or recreationally. Various researchers have concluded that the plant seems to have medical utility, and that the topic demands further research.
The plant was identified as Mitragyna Speciosa by E.M. Holmes in 1895, although an exact usage timeline in Thailand is unknown and perhaps spans centuries of unrecorded history.
Users have reported that on average, the duration of a dose is between 2-5 hours depending on the strain, ingestion method, and state of the user. Kratom has a half-life of about 3-4 hours in the body, so effects can persist outside of this window (this sensation is often known as an “afterglow.”
No, this can be very dangerous and Kratomaton advises against it. There have been cases in the past where mixing kratom with various other drugs has been fatal .
No, this is not recommended.
Because all strains of Kratom have sedative properties, it is thought that ingesting kratom before exercise will lower energy levels, reducing one’s will to exercise. However, for some, the pain-reduction and stimulation of some strains make for better workouts. This may be because these users are utilizing caffeine in addition to kratom to balance out their energy levels, however.
A link between kratom use and lowered testosterone has not been definitively established, although users have both anecdotally corroborated and refuted this claim (discussion thread, reddit.com).
However, in the US, all fifteen documented cases of death deemed “kratom-related” by the DEA were uncited and lacked transparent peer review. In the case of nine kratom-related deaths in Sweden, the presence of the kratom-borne alkaloid mitragynine was confirmed alongside O-desmethyltramadol (the active metabolite of tramadol) in autopsy reports (Rosenbaum et al., 2012). Because of its accessibility, kratom is often utilized as an ingredient to produce harmful street drugs, which are largely responsible for these deaths as well as their misattribution to kratom.