Mitragyna Speciosa or, colloquially, Kratom, is a plant from Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. In the last year or so, this particular plant has been the target of another War on Drugs shenanigan. But this is for another time. Today, we are gonna learn precisely what it is and what’s its used for.
The History of Kratom
While the West, the Dutch to be precise, encountered the leaf in the mid-19th century, South Asia has a long history of using it.
We don’t even know its origins because it has been part of the indigenous culture for so long. Thailand workers used to chew the raw leafs of the plant to enhance productivity or color mundane tasks.
People who used it were highly valued members of the society because they were deemed as very hard workers. This particular act is called kakuam or ithang.
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Without getting too technical, Kratom belongs to the coffee family, Rubiaceae. It’s coffee’s cousin, with more efficient and sustainable results.
While there are many strains and types of this tree, the key components that have the stimulant and opioid-like effects are mitragynine and 7-HMG.
How to use Kratom
Every person reacts differently to different types of the plant. You have to experiment yourself and find the right combination, dosage, potency and strain.
However, do NOT smoke it. Brew it like tea or coffee.
What to expect when using it?
Depending on the strain, the best way to describe it would be like drinking a strong coffee that lasts for 6-8 hours, without the crash after.
But there are also varieties that cause sedative-like effects that help you relax. Note that you can’t get high off of it as many reporters claim, and it’s not similar to marijuana at all.
What Kratom is Not
When someone reads “opioid-like effects,” one immediately makes all kinds of assumption.
It is true that Kratom works by stimulating the opiate receptors, BUT it’s not an opiate. Traditional pharmaceutical opioids like Vicodin and Morphine (fun fact: almost ALL drugs have morphine and heroin is basically morphine) work on μ-opioid receptors. This means addiction, chronic effects, and withdrawal symptoms.
By contrast, Kratom works on the secondary “Delta” and “Kappa” opiate receptors. This means it’s milder (actually, considerably milder) less prone to addiction, dependency, and respiratory side effects.
Let me make this more clear. Kratom is less addictive than coffee (and not as dangerous for that matter). You can’t overdose on Kratom. The worst that could happen is to take too much and feel sleepy or like throwing up (again, see side effects of coffee).
There isn’t one single death attributed solely to Kratom. Keep that in mind.
Modern Use of Kratom
Besides producing a sense of well-being and energy, Kratom is used to cure chronic pain, fatigue syndrome and helps to wean off hardcore drugs without the vicious withdrawal syndromes and depression.
It sounds too good to be true, right? Well, as with everything you put in your body, you have to be careful, a.k.a. not being stupid and do your research. You can drink too much water and die. That doesn’t mean water is bad for you.
And this brings us to the last point: Why do they want to ban Kratom?
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