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All About Kratom - Nature's Pain Reliever

Updated on August 30, 2013
Kratom leaves.
Kratom leaves.

What It Is

Kratom is a natural substance that is effective at relieving anxiety, boosting energy, and relieving pain. It is derived from the leaves of mitragyna speciosa trees, which are indigenous to marshy regions of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. Kratom has been used for centuries as traditional medicine, as an alternative to opiates, in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo and New Guinea. Other names for kratom include "Ketum," "Kakuam," and "Thom." It is classified as both a stimulant and a depressant, as well as an intoxicant, depending on the dosage and strain used.

What It Does

Kratom leaves contain alkaloids, which are active chemicals that produce the plant's rather wide range of effects. The main alkaloids in kratom are mitragynine, mitraphylline and 7-hydroxymitragynine. It is primarily used as a pain reliever, as its effects mimic those of opiates. At lower doses, kratom can induce stimulation and energy boosting, while at higher doses, effects can include sedation and euphoria, and an overall sense of well-being. Kratom is used by many individuals to help wean themselves off of narcotic drugs, such as Oxycodone, Vicodin and in some cases, even Heroin.

I have taken kratom for several months as a natural treatment for anxiety, as well as the overall feeling of well-being that it produces. It is one of the few natural supplements available that actually produces significant anti-depressant and calming effects, along with Kava Kava and Phenibut. The euphoric effects are generally mild, but can last for several hours. I do not suffer from chronic pain, so I cannot attest to the pain-relieving abilities of kratom. However, I have read many accounts of individuals who swear by the pain-relieving properties of kratom.

Side effects of kratom can include nausea, constipation, and dizziness. In extreme cases, it has been said to induce hallucinations and delusions, although this is highly debated. This is because kratom works on dopamine receptors in the brain, not serotonin, which would be the receptors to cause hallucinations. Personally, I have only experienced occasional constipation from taking kratom, and its effects have never come close to anything involving hallucinations or delusions. It is also believed that, since the active dose of kratom is rather large (ranging from 2 grams to 10 grams or more,) that this is the primary reason for some individuals experiencing nausea. However, the nausea that may occur can be prevented by taking kratom on an empty stomach and eating afterwards.

Kratom capsules.
Kratom capsules.

How To Take It

The traditional method of ingesting kratom is by chewing the leaves, and this has been common among day-laborers in Thailand and other Asian countries for hundreds of years. Kratom leaves can also be smoked, although this is not recommended as it is not reported to be a very potent method of ingesting the plant. It is also available as crushed, powdered leaves and as an extract in capsules, as a tea, and also as liquid extract.

I have most commonly taken the capsule form of kratom, although brewing kratom tea is another excellent way to use it. One caveat of kratom tea is that it is VERY bitter and requires a ton of sweetener to make it palatable.

If brewing kratom tea, mixing in citric acid is believed to be a potentiator to the effects of kratom, and some vendors offer citric acid capsules as an additional ingredient. It is also believed that grapefruit juice is another potentiator, when it is drunk before ingesting kratom.

The addictive potential of kratom is another hotly debated issue. Personally, since it does exert noticeable effects on the body and mind, I do believe that kratom can become habit-forming if not used responsibly, just as any other substance. It is believed that switching strains of kratom leaves can help reduce tolerance and the potential for addiction, however.

Although its use is still not very common in the United States and Europe, kratom is an effective alternative to opiates that should be considered by anyone who lives with chronic pain and/or anxiety and depression.


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