Kratom is an herbal substance extracted from the leaves of a tropical evergreen tree called Mitragyna Speciosa that is native to Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea. It has been used by the peoples native to this area for centuries, if not millennia, to treat ailments from muscle pain to social anxiety. With its long history as traditional medicine, why is kratom not readily available in every grocery store somewhere between the coffee and medicine aisle? Although kratom clearly has a bright future ahead, the path to get there is complicated.
The kratom leaf does not require processing in order to be consumed as it can be chewed, brewed, swallowed or smoked – but is largely sold in the Western world as capsules, powder or extract for both shipping and packaging reasons, but also makes it easier to control the dose or mix into a smoothie or similar. The dose depends on what you are treating, for example, you might take a larger dose for severe joint pain compared to a small amount added to a morning cup of tea. Different varieties have names such as White Maeng Da kratom, Bali, Red Vein Thai, Red Vein Kali, Green Vein Kali and many others. More on the various strains later…
How Does Kratom Make You Feel?
Kratom contains a cocktail of natural substances that act as both stimulants and depressants, similar to cannabis. Some of the components in kratom bind to the opioid receptors in the brain which results in the pain relief and euphoria response. Although words like “opioid receptor” sound serious, they are normal functions of the brain which can be activated through common substances such as coffee. So how does kratom make you feel? For most people, the feeling is somewhere between coffee and cannabis on mood, combined with physical feelings of mild pain relief. The effects are not dramatic, people who consume kratom are not considered to be intoxicated. Kratom is grown in various strains, each strain having a different effect on the mind and body. To be overly simplistic, a strain of kratom higher on the energy boost end of the spectrum is likely to be lesser on pain relief, and vice versa. Or multiple strains can be blended to get more of the full spectrum. Kratom has a slightly different effect on each individual.
Why is Kratom Controversial?
Kratom is controversial because its health benefits and potential side effects are still being studied, at least in the Western world. Funding for such studies is difficult to secure as a positive outcome is a direct threat to many of the pharmaceutical industries most lucrative products. In the United States, kratom is being handled somewhat similar to cannabis as local and federal government sort of ‘looks the other way’ and unofficially allows its use to continue while testing is taking place. Also similar to cannabis, increased kratom use has not led to a national health emergency; the government mostly wants to make sure people aren’t using kratom under false claims when they should be taking something else proven to be effective.
The majority of kratom proponents are in favor of clinical testing to bring the herb into the mainstream and prove its value as one of nature’s miracles. But there is concern that the testing process leaves it open to influence by the pharmaceutical industry to influence the results in their favor.
How Long Does Kratom Last / Is it Addictive?
Once consumed using a standard delivery method such as chewing the leaf or drinking a powdered or extract mix, it takes around 30-45 minutes to feel the effects. The duration is roughly a few hours but depends greatly on the dosage. Duration might also depend on activity level; taking kratom and immediately engaging in strenuous activity might result in ‘burning off’ the kratom faster than when at rest. A daily user might add just a touch of kratom to their morning tea or coffee, while a social user might take a larger dose for an evening out with friends. As with many substances, habit forming may occur with continued heavy use. But it’s more akin to caffeine withdrawal than anything else.
Where is Kratom Legal
Kratom runs the full spectrum from outright illegal, such as in Thailand, to completely legal, such as the State of Nevada. It is important to know, Kratom is currently illegal in a couple US states. Unfortunately, when kratom is outlawed, it tends to be more for political or financial reasons than anything medical related. For example, an elected government with a tough stance on drugs might find it politically difficult to allow the use of kratom, or when a political party relies heavily on campaign donations, directly or indirectly, by the pharmaceutical industry. This situation is not new, any new potential treatment that is difficult for mainstream medicine to monetize comes up against pressure. We’ve watched this play out in the medical marijuana industry for years and kratom is likely to follow a similar path.
Although there’s no shortage of anecdotal evidence of the health benefits of kratom, there have not been enough formal clinical trials for kratom to be legally labelled as a cure to anything. Vendors who sell kratom find themselves walking a fine line between selling their product based on expected results, without overstepping into illegal claims. For the most part, kratom vendors are happy to operate without these boundaries, especially if that’s what is needed to move kratom out of the shadows and into the medical mainstream.
The one thing both proponents and sceptics agree on is more testing needs to be done. Proponents want to promote the full range of benefits kratom has to offer, while sceptics for the most part don’t want to see kratom sold as a treatment for something it cannot cure. Unfortunately, being that kratom can be farmed naturally and consumed with little to no processing means the pharmaceutical industry has very little financial interest in seeing kratom marketed as having health benefits of any kind. In the meantime, the use of kratom continues to grow among the world’s population and is likely to achieve mainstream status with or without formal acceptance from the medical community. As always, male sure Kratom is legal in your jurisdiction before ordering.
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