Imagine that you could get a powerful substitute for stubborn chronic pain medication, anti-depressant drugs, anti-anxiety medication, and sleeping pills in a single substance. And that it’s completely natural and has very few if any side effects.
The great news is that it actually exists, and it’s steadily gaining popularity across North America. People swear by it, stating that it has changed their lives for the better or even saved their lives.
This natural substance is kratom.
What Is Kratom?
Mitragyna speciosa, which is the official scientific name of kratom, is a tropical tree. It’s native to Southeast Asia and grows in the rainforests of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and other neighboring countries. The natives in these locations have been using kratom for centuries to boost energy and motivation at work as well as to deal with a variety of conditions such as cough, diarrhea, and various kinds of pain.
Despite being known in Southeast Asia for centuries, it’s relatively new in the Western world. In fact,
6 Facts about Kratom
#1. Kratom Has at Least 25 Alkaloids
Kratom leaves are rich in alkaloids, which have a wide array of beneficial properties. At the moment, there aren’t many extensive studies on kratom, so we don’t know everything about this herb yet.
What we do know is that kratom has 25 different alkaloids and a total of 40 beneficial compounds. Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are found in kratom in most abundant quantities and attrite to most of the kratom effects.
Kratom alkaloid have various properties that include pain relief, relaxation, mood and energy boost, stress and anxiety relief, better cognitive function, and many more.
However, this may not be everything that kratom has to offer.
Currently, the US College of Pharmacy is examining kratom and its alkaloids. A team of specialists that work on this is lead by a chemistry professor Christopher McCurdy, who pioneered kratom research in the US approximately around 2004.
The team is having a closer look at the alkaloids and their effects on the human brain separately as well as how they work together.
This research is the most extensive ever done on kratom. It is funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). The team got two grants worth nearly $7 million. Since a growing number of people turn to kratom as an alternative to prescription opioids, NIDA is interested in how kratom could help people suffering from opioid addiction and withdrawal.
#2. Kratom Veins Have Varying Effects
Not all kratom is exactly the same. Kratom leaves have different vein and stem colors. These are red, green, and white. Depending on how much sunlight and moisture that the leaves get, they develop different vein and stem colors as well as different alkaloid content.
Think of kratom vein colors as of bell peppers. Red, orange, yellow, and green bell peppers come from the same plant, but are picked at different stages of the ripening process. Green peppers are unripe, yet red ones are fully ripe. Since red peppers take longer to mature, they develop higher levels of vitamin C.
The same occurs with kratom leaves. Leaves with red veins and stems get the most amount of sunlight. As a result, they are the most mature and have the most potent pain-relieving properties. Red Bali Kratom, a red vein strain, is one of the most popular strains on the market due to that.
White vein kratom is the exact opposite. Its leaves are usually in the shade and get the least sunlight. That’s why they have pale green veins and stems, resulting in different alkaloid content and effects. While white vein kratom provides mild pain relief, it’s most potent abilities include energy and mood boost. It can be a wonderful aid for those who study or work and have a hard time focusing and retaining productivity.
Green vein kratom provides a moderate balance of effects that you can gain from white and red vein strains. It provides mild pain-relieving effects as well as moderate stimulating effects.
While browsing through kratom vendor sites, you can also come across gold and yellow kratom. Over centuries of experimenting, kratom farmers came up with ways of mixing strains and drying them. This practice yields a powder that has a yellow tint and has moderate effects that are similar, yet not the same as those you can expect from green vein kratom.
In addition to that, kratom also has different strains. These can be kratom trees from various locations or different variations of the Mitragyna speciosa tree. Individual strains have slightly different effects.
#3. Kratom Has Similar Effects to Opioids, But Is Not an Opioid
One of the most prominent effects of this herb is pain relief, which is why millions of Americans switch to kratom to deal with strong chronic pain.
Kratom effects are similar to morphine and other opioids. That is due to the alkaloid 7-hydroxymitragynine, which has approximately 13 times stronger pain-relieving properties than morphine.
Kratom alkaloids affect opioid receptors in the human brain, the same ones that prescription opioids do. However, the chemical process of them doing so is different. As a result, kratom creates a similar pain-relieving effect, yet without the dangerous respiratory depression that is associated with opioids.
Moreover, kratom has no effect on hormones, such as testosterone, whereas long-term opioid use can dramatically lower testosterone as well as other hormones.
While these opioid-like effects are helping millions, they have also created much controversy around kratom. It’s been frequently labeled as an opioid despite being one. Many sources state that kratom is an opioid and attribute properties you can expect from opioids rather than kratom, creating misinformation and bad fame around the herb.
A Kratom 8-Factor Analysis performed in late 2018 by a number of university professors concluded that kratom is neither an opioid nor an addictive drug. They stated that kratom is about as addictive a drink most of us love and take daily – coffee.
#4. Kratom Belongs to the Coffee Family
Kratom is not only equally as addictive as coffee and shares some of its properties, but also belongs to the coffee family of plants. Mitragyna plants are part of the Rubiaceae family, which includes a range of plants such as the coffee shrub.
#5. Kratom Is Not Legal Everywhere
A vastly misunderstood herb, kratom is not legal everywhere. A number of US states, as well as towns and counties, have banned kratom products. Various countries across the world have done the same.
Nonetheless, as more people are becoming familiar with kratom and more studies focus on it, states are considering regulating kratom sales, production, and distribution. They also require explicit labeling and testing of kratom products.
This practice is due to the activity of the American Kratom Association (AKA), a non-profit kratom advocacy group that aims to spread positive information on kratom and make it safe and accessible to any US citizen who finds relief in it.
One of the initiatives of the AKA is the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, a list of regulations that the AKA proposes to legislators across the US states. A number of states such as Nevada, Utah, and Arizona have passed it, ensuring much safer access to kratom.
#6. You Need to Carefully Select Vendors When Buying Kratom
The FDA currently does not regulate kratom. Because of that, the responsibility to deliver quality kratom falls on individual kratom vendors.
Approximately 95% of all kratom comes from Indonesia. However, kratom is unregulated there too, and the sanitary practices are not the same as they are in the United States. As a raw botanical product, it is at risk of being exposed to bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. This can occur to visually any food product and is no different to Romaine lettuce being contaminated.
Therefore, kratom vendors test kratom products at independent 3rd-party laboratories before offering them to buyers. They also should discard any kratom that contains adulterants or contaminants.
Sadly, not all vendors do that, thus exposing their customers to a preventable risk. Because of that, it’s important to buy kratom from vendors that are trusted and reliable. This requires customers to look into vendors and buyer reviews to ensure that they get access to pure, quality kratom.
Various kratom forums and blogs such as Speciosa Guide share tips and vendor reviews to help buyers avoid bad players and make wise buying decisions. Buying from vendors based in states that have passed the Kratom Consumer Protection Act is another way to get access to pure kratom.