Kratom aka Mitragyna Speciosa of the Rubiaceae family is a tropical tree indigenous to Southeast Asia. It grows in certain marshy regions of countries like New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia.
The tree can be anywhere between 4-16 meters in height. Traditionally, the dried or freshly chopped leaves of kratom were made into tea by the natives of the local laborers which improved their productivity and also combated fatigue.
Additionally, kratom preparations have had deep socio-religious implications and have been used in ceremonies. For decades, it has held a special place in folk medicine wherein natives would use it during morphine dependence (particularly in the regions of Thailand). In Malaya, it would often be used as a substitute for opium.
Some accounts suggest that it was the Dutch botanist Korthals who named the genus ‘Mitragyna’ because the flower stigma and leave shape looked a lot like a bishop’s mitre.
Today you can buy kratom from stores like The Golden Monk.
How Does Kratom Work?
In terms of the range of effects, kratom exhibits both psychostimulant and opioid-like effects. In terms of pharmacology, 40+ structurally related alkaloids have been isolated from different parts of this genus.
The most important alkaloid of those is – Mitragynine with almost 66% purity level found in the extracts of leaves that came from Thailand.
Mitragynine is the alkaloid that links to the analgesic activity of kratom because it shows strong opioid agonist properties. The alkaloid is thought to act on the kappa, delta, and mu-opioid receptors, but structurally speaking – it’s completely different from the opioid family including morphine. Kratom is thought to have a broader binding activity on the brain receptors.
Positive Effects of Kratom
A natural pain-management tool
For decades, the laborers of countries like Bali and Thailand would use freshly ground leaves and kratom tea for improving their tolerance to laborious work. At times, they would also use it for holistically managing pain. In the US relief from chronic pains is the leading reason behind kratom’s growing popularity.
Some even use it to overcome the uncomfortable sensations which often accompany drug withdrawal. Some clinical mentions even suggest kratom’s potential as a pain management tool.
Helpful in combating symptoms of depression
While kratom may not be an antidepressant in itself, it exhibits antidepressant-like effects. Some clinical studies have found a couple of active components in kratom that bind to the same receptors as the antipsychotics do. Some of those receptors are D2 dopamine, serotonin, and alpha-2 adrenergic receptors. This indicates kratom’s potential as an antidepressant; although scientific evidence is still lacking.
Many of the kratom users who were surveyed online have reported mild relief from depression and anxiety symptoms. Management of mental health issues is another reason behind kratom’s growing popularity on a global level.
May Improve Energy Levels
Since kratom belongs to the coffee family, some of the genus’ strains exhibit effects that resemble a caffeine-like rush. We already mentioned that many of the native cultures would chew kratom leaves as it helped them with laborious tasks. Kratom can also help improve productivity as some users experience razor-sharp focus after consuming it. Kratom is supposed to improve cognitive functioning which might explain better focus and attention.
It can give you relief from anxiety
A comprehensive and systematic review of studies that have been published around kratom over the decades suggests that the genus has some potential in managing anxiety as part of other mental health conditions. It may even improve the quality of mood. Some users feel that sipping kratom tea might have enhanced relaxing effects.
May Help With Your Focus
While some strains would physically energize you, other strains of kratom might help you with mentally challenging tasks. Kratom has great potential in calming you down which is why you experience relief from anxiety. This can inadvertently help you with better focus so you can finish everyday tasks more easily which otherwise sounds too challenging to accomplish.
Ways to Take Kratom
You can consume kratom in a variety of simple and straightforward ways. Some of them are –
- As powder – As a powdered dose, you can just wash it down with water. The method is called ‘toss n wash’ and is exactly how it sounds. You take the dose and throw it back in the mouth. Before the powder begins to settle, you can cleanse it down with water or any other healthy beverage of your choice like juice.
- Brew as tea – Like many of the native cultures, you too can brew kratom tea. For this, you can either use kratom crushed leaves or just powder. The recipes are simple and you can always tweak the recipe to your liking. A simple Google research on ‘how to make kratom tea’ should give you plenty of interesting kratom tea recipes.
- Add to savory/sweet foods – You can add kratom dose to foods like soups and gravies to mask the bitter taste. Kratom can also be added to breakfasts like oatmeals, yogurt, parfaits, etc.
- Add to smoothies – You can make a power smoothie by adding it to the smoothie of your choice. To make a power smoothie to prep you for the gym, pick an energizing kratom strain. If you are not a fan of smoothies you can even add kratom to shakes like pineapple, banana, papaya.
- Add to juices – Grab your favorite juice like orange or cranberry, add your kratom dose, and keep stirring it until it’s well mixed. This is another great way to completely hide the taste (if you’re not fond of it).
Kratom is nothing short of a miracle herb. Even though it’s rather controversial and banned in some countries; that has not put a damper on the herb’s popularity. However, users are requested to buy from a reputed vendor only because kratom is an unregulated herb. It’s not regulated by the FDA either. The dosage can be hard to establish in the beginning, so always start slow.