WRITTEN BY: ZACH CHAMP,
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WHAT IS KRATOM?
Mitragyna speciosa, commonly referred to as Kratom, is a plant that is indigenous to Southeast Asia. Kratom comes from the coffee family. It typically grows in tropical wetland environments with rich soil as well as high temperature and humidity.
In Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia, Kratom is used as part of traditional herbal medicine practices.
Usually, the dried powdered leaf of the plant is consumed as a tea, taken orally as capsules, or smoked.
HISTORY & CULTURE OF KRATOM
Kratom has been used for thousands of years by people in the Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and other neighboring locales.
The cultivation and production of Kratom helps promote environmental sustainability in addition to increasing biodiversity in the areas where it is grown.
Many countries in Southeast Asia have been negatively affected by the rise of large-scale monoculture rubber plantations. The demand for rubber has dominated agriculture in these regions for decades.
Rubber plantations wreak havoc on the local environment because they require the development of large tracts of land within the delicate rainforest ecosystem where Kratom thrives.
Kratom cultivation is one of the few significant activities that can replace rubber production as a source of income in rural agrarian communities.
For many farmers, Kratom provides a means of earning money to send their kids to school and earn an honest living while living in harmony with their landscape.
HOW DOES KRATOM WORK?
There are two naturally occurring plant-based compounds (alkaloids) that make Kratom medicinal and therapeutic. These alkaloids are Mitragynine and 7-a-hydroxymitragynine.
Mitragynine and 7-a-hydroxymitragynine interact with opioid receptors in the brain producing feelings of sedation, relaxation, euphoria, and decreased pain. However, Kratom is unique in that it can have varying degrees of psychotropic or physical effects based on how much is consumed.
Most of the time the effects of mitragynine on other receptors in the brain can be stimulating when consumed in lower doses, increasing an individual’s energy and focus.
Many people who suffer from addiction to opiates or drugs like heroin often use kratom to help them self-medicate plus treat their withdrawal symptoms. Kratom has proven to be an invaluable tool for mitigating abuse and dependence on stronger opiates.
There are several strains of Kratom available with each based on the color of the leaf’s veins. Different Kratom strains promote different effects.
A rough comparison of each strain’s benefits is as follows:
In many countries around the world, Kratom is considered a controlled substance.
Kratom has had a contentious history of legality here within the United States. The FDA has consistently stated that Kratom has no real medicinal or therapeutic value and should be illegal. Kratom advocates have attacked these claims as false while responding that the FDA has a bias due to its relationship with pharmaceutical companies.
As it stands, Kratom is currently regulated in 6 states where it is classified as a controlled substance and consequently illegal to possess, cultivate, manufacture, or consume.
One of the legitimate issues of concern in the debate surrounding kratom’s legality here in the United States is quality control and standards. Kratom is a plant-based drug that is regularly ingested.
Most Kratom sold in the United States is imported from overseas and not grown domestically.
To ensure quality standards and purity of alkaloid content, Kratom sales and manufacturing has to be regulated by the government.
Without proper regulation, consumers who regularly rely on this powerful plant medicine will be at risk with no reliable means of discerning any given product’s quality.
DOES KRATOM HAVE
Taking excessively large amounts of Kratom can result in unpleasant side-effects. This can include nausea, vomiting, sweating, and light-headedness.
The recommended dosing for Kratom is:
CAN YOU BECOME ADDICTED TO KRATOM? IS KRATOM SAFE?
Kratom is a potent plant medicine and has naturally active opiate-based compounds within the plant.
Anyone who uses Kratom should educate themselves about the potential risks of misusing and abusing it.
It is, without a doubt, completely possible for habitual users to develop a dependence or addiction to this plant.
Repeated use can lead to tolerance requiring users to consume larger dosages. This can sometimes result in difficult experiences.
People often take a small dose of Kratom to get a socially stimulating and euphoric buzz.
When this high fades away they want to extend the euphoria and take another dose, but the catch-22 with Kratom is if you take more of it, that doesn’t extend the stimulating effects but it instead promotes a heavy sedative and opiate-like feeling.
Daily habitual users of Kratom can suffer from withdrawal effects after quitting. The side-effects of Kratom withdrawal include:
- Muscle aches and soreness
- Irritability and Aggressiveness
- Emotional Instability
- Runny Nose
- Jerky Motions
SHOULD I USE KRATOM?
If you are considering using Kratom you should respect the fact that this is a medicinally potent and powerful drug.
Kratom is not a synthetic or man-made substance. It is a plant grown in nature, and the effects of Kratom are due to its inherent natural compounds.
Kratom can be beneficial for individuals seeking an herbal all-natural approach to pain management.
Anyone who habitually uses Kratom needs to be aware of the risks for addiction and withdrawal. Kratom is just as dangerous as other drugs in this regard. However, the effects of Kratom withdrawal are relatively benign and completely tolerable for most people.
Overall, Kratom is a wonderful plant medicine capable of helping treat a variety of pain-related ailments and diseases. Like any other drug, proper use and knowledge are key!