The Truth About Kratom — Potent Medicine or Unsafe Drug?

Mitragyna Speciosa or kratom has a history spanning centuries. Since at least the 19th century, laborers from Southeast Asia regions have used the plant’s leaves to relieve fatigue and fight muscle pain. But, up until recently, this powerful plant has remained under the radar. However, kratom has gained a lot of popularity now and opened a lot of questions that we’re here to answer.

 

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is a tree that grows in Southeast Asia regions in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, to name a few. Traditionally, it has been used as a natural medicine but in recent times it’s also used as a recreational drug.

Abundant with alkaloids, most notably mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. The components attach themselves to the neuron cells of the brain in the same way as opioids, creating similar effects.

 

Kratom Types

There’s a difference between kratom strains. The most common division is by the color of their vein. The region in which the tree grows, the level of humidity, the type of soil, and the temperature all influence the appearance of the colors at different types.

The vein colors essentially indicate how old the leaf is. Cultivators say that younger leaves have white veins and older transition to green and then into red. Depending on this, the leaves contain different alkaloid balances which will give different effects.

White Vein Kratom

White vein kratom has strong stimulating effects. It helps you feel more energized but without the jittery feelings. A mood boost is also a common effect with the white kratom strain. It’s very useful for achieving mental clarity and boosting productivity too.

Green Vein Kratom

The perfect balance between white and red kratom is the green strain. It’s great for daytime use as it offers a subtle, almost caffeine-like energy boost and mild pain relief. Additionally, green vein kratom improves mental clarity and helps with anxiety and depression.

Red Vein Kratom

Red vein kratom is arguably the most popular type. It’s known for alleviating chronic pain and can also be used for dealing with opiate withdrawal symptoms. At the same time, the red vein strain encourages relaxation and calmness but without causing sleepiness.

What’s Yellow Kratom?

Yellow kratom is a popular kratom type. However, the name doesn’t indicate a vein color but the tint that the leaves often get after the unique process of fermentation. The process of producing yellow kratom might include fermentation of up to 11 different kratom strains. The alkaloids change during the process, creating a unique blend with a wide spectrum of uses.

Regional Varieties of Kratom

As we mentioned, the kratom tree grows in Southeast Asia regions, primarily Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. So many regional varieties will slightly differ based on the chemical composition of the soil, humidity, temperature, and other factors.

Malay Kratom

Malay kratom originates from Malaysia and is known for giving balanced and long-lasting effects. Some say the effects can go up to 8 hours. At small doses, the effects are mood-boosting to euphoric. At high doses, the Malay kratom relieves the pain and has a sedative effect.

Maeng Da

Originating from Thailand, Maeng Da is the most popular variety of Thai kratom. It contains the highest concentration of alkaloids and it’s very powerful. Often, it’s used for an energy boost, especially the Green Maeng Da kratom variety. On the other hand, White Maeng Da is great for stimulation, concentration, and focus.

Bali Kratom

Bali kratom is perfect for dealing with mild pain or getting a subtle energy boost. It’s very popular among beginners, widely recognized for its balanced effects. Bali is also known to bring a mild sense of euphoria and relaxation at higher doses.

Kratom Benefits

Kratom is widely known for its therapeutic effects and here we’re discussing some of the best-known kratom benefits.

Pain Relief

The mitragynine found in kratom binds to the opioid receptors in the body, stimulating the release of neurotransmitters that prevent the pain signals to reach the brain. It’s often used as an alternative to OTC medications for managing joint pain, arthritis, migraines, chronic backache, abdominal pain, and more.

Cognitive Improvement

Kratom is efficient in improving mental processes. Mitragynine binds to the delta receptors, whereas the 7-hydroxy mitragynine acts on the mu receptors responsible for cognitive performance. Kratom also stimulates the release of a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which gives focus and stamina.

Mood Elevation

Kratom is often used for mood elevation. Depending on the dose, the effects can range from euphoria. The compounds of kratom bind to the receptors responsible for the release of serotonin, endorphins, and other hormones, thus enticing mood elevation. Therefore, kratom is also used for alleviating anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms.

Drug Withdrawal Symptom Relief

Another, very popular use of kratom is to alleviate drug withdrawal symptoms. As we said, kratom binds to the opioid receptors and causes opioid-like effects but without the harmful side effects. At the same time, kratom relieves the pain and suppresses the drug cravings.

Sleep Regulation

In higher doses, kratom gives sedative effects. Many people with sleeping disorders take kratom at night as a supplement to regulate their sleeping cycle and improve their sleep quality.

Energy Boost

When taking kratom, dopamine and serotonin are released. These two hormones are responsible for eliciting energy and alertness. Plus, kratom entices faster blood oxygen transportation which also boosts the production of energy. Kratom is an excellent stimulant and the right supplement when you need to alleviate fatigue.

Diabetes Management

Kratom can regulate blood sugar levels. This prevents dangerous peaks and drops which means it keeps diabetes at bay.

 

Kratom Side Effects

The very few studies have pegged kratom like a dangerous supplement. FDA hasn’t found any strong evidence for its medical benefits. And while kratom side effects are possible, they aren’t as dangerous as the side effect caused by opiates.

Common symptoms include dry mouth, drowsiness, agitation, muscle pain, constipation, chills, nausea, and vomiting. Chronic use can cause graver side effects like drastic weight loss, liver failure, kidney damage, hallucinations, heart damage, and seizures.

 

How to Take Kratom

There are several ways to take kratom. If you’re just starting to use kratom, you can take a look at the most popular methods and find out which one is the best for you.

Kratom Capsules

Kratom capsules are simple and easy to use. You just need to take enough pills to form the needed dose and take them with water. You don’t have to bother with measuring or preparing. Plus, you can take them anywhere which makes kratom capsules perfect for people with a busy lifestyle. Keep in mind that capsules will have a bit delayed effects as it takes about 45 minutes for the body to absorb the kratom from the pills.

Toss and Wash

The most popular method is called toss and wash. It involves tossing the amount of kratom powder you want to intake in your mouth and then washing it down with water. Kratom effects will kick in very fast and they will be long-lasting. However, if kratom’s taste is a dealbreaker, consuming raw powder might not be the right method for you.

Kratom Tea

The process of preparing kratom tea is simple. You need to brew the kratom powder with water and then strain the liquid. If you want to diversify its taste or simply improve it, you can consider adding in milk, honey, molasses, syrup, mint leaves, ginger, or lemon juice. The hot water weakens the alkaloid effects but it’s a great option for enjoying in the morning when you need an energy boost for the upcoming day or in the evening when you want to relax.

Kratom as Food Supplement

If you want to use more versatile methods of intaking kratom, you can add it to your daily meals. You can prepare kratom-infused acai bowls, granola, or even muffins. Also, you can add kratom powder to your favorite beverages — juice, milkshake, or smoothie, the choice is yours.

 

Kratom Dosage

Kratom dosage is subjective and depends on the individual’s tolerance and personal preferences.  However, it’s recommendable that you start with small doses of 1 gram to see how your body responds. Each next time, you can moderately increase the dose until you reach the desired effects. Starting small will help you avoid the occurrence of side effects and get the most out of its benefits.

 

Is Kratom Safe?

Despite everything, kratom is safer than opioids. Cases of kratom addiction are rare and it’s easy to quit using it when you like. At least, the effects of kratom withdrawal aren’t much different than trying to quit cigarettes or alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms appear within 12 hours of the last intake and last for about 3 days. Symptoms include nausea, agitation, hot flashes, constipation, agitation, and sudden mood swings. The effect these symptoms will have and their exact duration will depend on how much kratom you have taken and for how long.

 

How Often Can I Take Kratom?

As with dosage, how much to take kratom is a matter of personal preference and tolerance. However, to see the best results of kratom and avoid the occurrence of side effects, you should take kratom in small doses and no more than three times a day.

 

How Long Do Kratom Effects Last?

When will kratom effects wear off also depends on the dosage. A small to moderate dose will usually last for about 3 hours, whereas with a high dose, you’ll be able to feel kratom effects for about 5-6 hours.

 

What Happens If You Smoke Kratom?

Smoking kratom can cause numerous side effects starting from coughing and difficulty breathing to weakening the immune system and causing long-term harm. Another method of intaking kratom you need to avoid is snorting it. Snorting kratom can cause lung infections and serious damage to the respiratory system.

 

How to Keep Your Kratom Fresh?

Keeping your kratom powder fresh will help preserve the substance’s potency and effect. Alkaloids naturally deteriorate over time, causing changes in kratom. This means you’ll need higher doses to get the effects, which might impact your kratom tolerance and cause some side effects to appear after some time. To prolong the life of kratom powder, you need to store it in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Also, keep it in an airtight bag or container to prevent oxygen exposure.

 

Kratom Legality

Kratom is legal in most of the US. However, there are several states — Arkansas, Rhode Island, Alabama, Vermont, and Wisconsin — where it’s illegal to use, possess, and sell kratom. In Illinois, Tennessee, and New Hampshire kratom is legal but its use is restricted by age. Kratom is also illegal in Australia, New Zealand, several EU states, including Denmark, Poland, and Sweden. In the UK, it’s forbidden to sell, import, or export kratom. Thailand and Malaysia have also banned the use of kratom, and Indonesia has a pending ban that will take effect in 2022.

 

How to Grow Kratom?

Growing kratom isn’t a simple process but it’s manageable. First of all, you need to obtain high-quality seed and then create the specific conditions in which the plant is known to thrive. You need to keep it away from direct sunlight in a hot room with a controlled temperature. Then, you’ll need soil with a high concentration of humus and pH between 5.5 and 6.5. The solid should have good drainage too.

 

Where to Buy Kratom

Many online and brick-and-mortar vendors are selling kratom. But since the substance isn’t regulated, you can buy products that might be contaminated with other substances or chemicals to increase their power while decreasing their cost. So it’s of the utmost importance to choose a trusted vendor with a reliable sourcing process and quality testing.

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