What Is Kratom?
If you’re a first-time visitor to our site, the first question you may have is, “What is kratom?” Kratom is the Thai name for Mitragyna speciosa, a species of tropical tree whose leaves have sedative, analgesic, and euphoric effects when chewed or consumed. Although it is distantly related to the coffee plant, for most people, kratom is more of a relaxant than a stimulant. Today, people use kratom to relieve anxiety, promote relaxation, and reduce mild aches and pains.
Kratom trees are native to Southeast Asia. Indigenous peoples in Thailand, Malaysia and elsewhere have chewed kratom leaves recreationally and used them as a medicine for millennia. Kratom leaves are usually picked and chewed fresh; half of one large leaf can be enough to generate mild stimulation and well-being in new users. Kratom leaves can also be steeped into a tea, made into resin balls for long-term storage, and occasionally even smoked. Despite being banned in its region of origin, kratom is still used by many rural Southeast Asians: the leaf is an essential component of social life much as coffee is in the West, and many farmers and laborers take kratom breaks between rounds of back-breaking work.
What is kratom used for in Southeast Asia? As it turns out, kratom has some useful medicinal properties, some of which overlap with the effects that make it a popular recreational herb. Kratom is the rural laborer’s herb of choice because it can increase physical energy and mental focus in low doses, enabling workers to perform repetitive labor more easily. Southeast Asians also use kratom leaf to relieve anxiety, treat diarrhea, and as a natural analgesic to treat pain. It is occasionally used to wean people off addictions to more powerful opiates, or to manage a long term opiate addiction.
Kratom is one of the more chemically complex psychoactive herbs out there: the leaves contain over 25 compounds, and scientists still aren’t sure which of these cause kratom’s stimulating, relaxing, and euphoric effects. Due to its complexity, people who want to experience the full range of kratom’s benefits should purchase either the whole dried leaf or a full-spectrum kratom extract. Commercial extracts that claim to be as much as 120x or 250x strength are probably engaging in false advertising, and will certainly not contain the full range of kratom’s chemical compounds. A legitimate kratom full-spectrum extract will be somewhere in the range of between 10x to 25x.
You can take kratom in a number of different ways. The most popular method in the West is to mix a measured portion of dry kratom extract into a beverage and drink it. Some people also make kratom leaves or powdered extract into a tea. Although kratom extract can also be smoked, this method usually results in milder effects that last for a shorter time.
Kratom extract comes in two forms, as a dry powder and as a solid resin. The powdered extract is the easiest form to work with: most people simply measure out an appropriate dose and mix it into a beverage or a wet food like applesauce or yogurt. Because kratom extract can be a bit bitter, most people prefer mixing it with sweet foods or juice. It can also be mixed with herbal or black tea; just be sure to limit your caffeine intake when using kratom because it can be stimulating at low doses.
Kratom resin extract is a bit trickier to work with. The resin usually comes in the form of a pie that must be softened first so that pieces can be broken or cut off. Try heating the resin pie for 10 seconds in a microwave to soften it, or use a hair dryer. A piece of kratom resin can then be powdered, dissolved into a hot liquid such as tea, placed in capsules, or even sucked on like a piece of candy until it dissolves. For naive users, 1-1.5 g of resin is reportedly a moderate first-time amount to work with.
It’s also been reported that those working with kratom in any form should not mix it with heavy sedatives such as benzodiazepines or tranquilizers. It’s also been reported that it’s important to limit intake of stimulants such as caffeine and depressants such as alcohol when working with kratom in any way as well. Lastly, we’ve also read reports that have suggested limiting one’s intake of any other psychoactive substance (such as alcohol or coffee) when working with even small amounts of kratom. Kratom can be stimulating and sedating, a good workday herb or simply an enhancement to a relaxing evening. What is kratom to you? The answer is different for everyone!