Table of Contents
What Is Kratom
Kratom is a tree indigenous to Southeast Asia and comes from the Rubiaceae family, a cousin of the coffee bean. The scientific name, mitragyna speciosa, was given to this plant by Dutch botanist Peter Korthals. Korthals noticed the leaves and the stems of the flower resembled a bishop’s mitre, which influenced the name of this plant. From this point, Korthals provided historical documentation of this leaf in its first usage.
Kratom is known by many names: Krathom, Kakaum, Ithang, Kratum, Thom (thailand), Biak-Biak and Ketum (Malaysia), Mambog (Philippines). Different regions across Southeastern Asia have created specific descriptions for this plant but the chemistry remains the same.
The Kratom tree is a very peculiar plant. The tree requires certain environmental elements in order for it to survive in the wild, normally in tropical environments which presents hot and humid weather. Usually found growing wild in the jungle, the tree needs both fertile soil and excessive water in order to grow at its maximum height of 100 – 115 feet. While not impossible to grow in climates which do not carry these certain elements, the tree will experience stunted growth and will not reach its full potential.
Earliest Known Uses of Kratom
This plant of the elders has been used for centuries. Since Kratom use was not documented until the 1880’s by Peter Korthals we do not have a defined date. It is evident through the documentation of the natives that their plant had been part of an age old society long before Korthals discovered this ancient medicinal plant for the world.
Natives of Southeast Asia were said to harvest the leaves and either chew the leaves or brew them into a tea to extract the potency. It has been reported that the people indigenous to this area chewed the leaves to combat fatigue and improve their work productivity. Korthal’s documentation revealed an evident expertise in harvesting and preparing these leaves which proves this was a ritual which had been handed down through the generations.
From Korthal’s discovery until the present day, Kratom has proved to become more and more popular to Western culture. People are more educated about how they can control their health and wellness through natural resources.
The Kratom Leaf
Since 1921, scientists and botanists have been particularly interested in the Kratom leaf. The leaves carry chemical compounds called alkaloids which have been said to represent many medicinal properties of the entire plant. The torrent environment in which the Kratom tree survives in comes to completion when the leaf has matured. The leaf has an oval and sometimes oval/lanceolate shape, is dark green in color, and can grow up to 180 millimeters long and 100 millimeters wide.
While not documented, it appears the natives of Southeast Asia clearly understood the perfect time to harvest the leaf for both maturity and potency. The best times to harvest are late summer and early autumn in order to extrapolate the highest potential of these tree leaves. After harvest begins a process which leads to the consumers favorite color of leaf. Experts surmise that 75% – 85% of all Kratom vein colors start out as red vein leaves at harvest time, the drying process creates a large opportunity for the farmer to create multiple varieties of leaf powder to appease the multiple consumers who have their favorites.
The Chemistry of Kratom
Kratom is known for its alkaloid content since the early 1900’s. Scientists discovered there were two alkaloids which were prevalent in the chemical composition. These two alkaloids are Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
After further study, scientists began to understand that mitragynine was the most abundant alkaloid found in these ancient leaves. In 1921, mitragynine became the alkaloid which was first isolated, but scientists were not able to fully elucidate it until 1964. The research conducted between these years created a solid foundation for other doctors and botanists to discover another compound called 7-hydroxymitragynine in 1993.
7-hydroxymitragynine, while not as abundant in the leaf as mitragynine has proved to be, 7-hydroxymitragynine has proved to be the most powerful compound in the leaf. However, it only presents in small amounts. Further research has proven these two alkaloids are not the only compounds prevalent in the chemistry of Kratom.
Mitragyna comes from the Madder, bedstraw, or coffee genre which is the most known plant in the Rubiaceae family. Lower classifications of the Madder family also include the gardenia and the galium plants which are also well known in western civilization.
Mitragyna is of the genus of plants which also include Mitragyna Diversifolia, Mitragyna Hirsuta, Mitragyna Inermis, Mitragyna Parvifolia, and Mitragyna Speciosa. The plant list includes 17 names in the genus Mitragyna, however, only seven of these names are accepted, including the list of names above.
Mitragyna, while existing from a well known plant family, exhumes unique characteristics within its own species in that the members of this genus contain analgesic alkaloids. Currently scientists have discovered over 40 structurally related alkaloids as well as flavonoids, terpenoids, saponins, polyphenols, and various glycosides.
Mitragynine was the first alkaloid discovered in the leaves as mentioned in the history of Kratom. Mitragynine is also the most abundant alkaloid this plant possesses. Currently neither mitragyna speciosa nor mitragynine 7-hydroxymitragynine, or any other alkaloids possessed in this plant are mentioned in any of the United States Drug Scheduling.
Modes of Kratom Powder Usage
Since its first documentation in the 1880’s, consumers have not strayed too far from the original procedures the natives used to consume this medicinal plant. You can consume these leaves in a variety of ways including:
- chewing the leaves,
- brewing the whole leaves in a tea
- brewing the crushed leaves in a tea
- Consuming the leaf powder
- Mixing the leaf powder with water and another beverage
- Placing the powder on the back of the tongue and drinking a beverage to wash it down, also called “Toss and wash”
- Creating a capsule/pill from the leaf powder and swallowing the capsules whole
Dr. Peter Korthal first witnessed the Thailand natives consuming the ancient plant leaves by either drinking in a tea or chewing and swallowing them. There is no evidence that you can smoke or vape the leaves successfully.
Evidence suggests that the majority of Kratom customers consume this plant in the form of a tea. While there are many options for a new tea consumer to try, drinking the tea seems to be the best option for the beginner.
Why Kratom is Controversial
There are a lot of hot topics associated with Kratom and this is simply because the majority of the country doesn’t completely understand the facts, and research. Here are several popular topics and the scientific facts which show the real truth about this plant.
Kratom Research and Studies
From its earliest discovery in the 1880’s, this plant has been on the radar of many doctors, scientists, and biologists research table. Not only have scientists been studying this leaf, but also pharmaceutical companies also know about the potential behind this plant as well. Dr. E.J. Shellard also did extensive research on mitragyna speciosa to uncover some of the mysteries behind this plant. In 1993, a study revealed one of the most potent alkaloids in Mitragyna called 7-hydroxymitragynine. Further study into this mysterious tree leaf will prove there is still a lot we don’t know about Kratom.
The Truth About Kratom Deaths
There have been zero cases where scientists and/or doctors have establish a secure connection saying Kratom by itself in an uncontaminated form causes death. In 2018, the FDA stated Kratom had been linked to 64 deaths across the country and warned the public about the dangers of this plant. However, further research proved that the deceased had other illicit substances in their system at the time of death. One toxic screen report stated the deceased suffered severe trauma to the chest from a shotgun blast. He also had Kratom in his system.
Molecular biologist Dr. Jane Babin and forensic toxicologist Dr. Karl Ebner disproved the FDA’s theories of these Kratom deaths by proving they ignored sufficient factors of the toxicology reports which could point to other substances besides Kratom being the cause of these deaths.
Is Kratom Safe?
Smart Mitragyna Speciosa customers always understand the best Kratom to purchase is a plant which has had strenuous lab testing performed. Unethical reports of smoke/vape shops and gas stations bartering contaminated Kratom across their counter cannot provide lab reports that proves their leaf is safe to consume. Not all Kratom is safe and the responsible customer will make sure to ask for the lab reports before making their purchase.
The Receptor-Targeting Properties of Kratom
Opioid agonists create serious side effects for the user. However there are compounds called atypical opioids which create the same symptoms without the serious side effects. Kratom is an atypical opioid. Studies have shown over the years that Kratom is used for relief all across the United States.
Mitragynine is the molecule which gives Kratom the effects on the brain. While it does target the same receptors in the brain as other opiates, it does so in a different manner compared to classical drugs. The process makes it less invasive than typical opiates. It does so through two different signaling patterns. The first of which is it acts as a biased signal which activates the G-protein pathway and avoids turning on the arresting pathway. Kratom is only able to turn on the G-protein pathway, not the more dangerous arresting pathway signals like other classical drugs which leads to side effects. In a sense, Kratom does partially activate the same receptors as other opiates but studies have shown as a partial agonist it does not carry the full effect of a full agonist opioid.
Is Kratom Addictive?
Dr. Jack Henningfield and several other researchers like Dr. Edward Boyer concluded in their research that Kratom was no more addictive than a cup of coffee. However, Kratom, like coffee does have the attributes to become addictive, just like anything else. For most people, not having their morning cup of coffee makes them sluggish at times. In their research, Dr. Henningfield and Dr. Boyer suggest Kratom does not have the serious side effects like opiates or other opioids, but more so along the lines as lacking a cup of coffee when you needed it.
Is Kratom Legal?
The FDA and DEA have yet to make a decision on the legality of Kratom across the United States. For some states, Kratom still remains a gray area for its citizens, for others, this plant is free to purchase and consume. The following states have banned Kratom or are in the process of banning Kratom.
- Alabama – Kratom is a Schedule 1 controlled substance drug as of May 10, 2016.
- Arkansas – Kratom is a controlled substance as of February 2016.
- California – Kratom is legal except in San Diego where a local ordinance was passed,
- Florida – Kratom is legal in Florida with the exception of Sarasota County.
- Illinois – The sale of kratom is banned to minors under the age of 18, it is banned in Jerseyville, but is legal in the state.
- Indiana – Kratom is classified as a synthetic drug and is banned
- New Hampshire – Legal if you are 18 and over.
- Rhode Island – Kratom is banned in this state
- Tennessee – Kratom has just been made legal in this state.
- Vermont – Kratom has been banned in vermont
- Wisconsin – Kratom is classified as a Schedule 1 and is banned.
- Columbus, Mississippi – Kratom is banned for sale in any store in this town.
- Washington D.C. – Kratom is banned.
If you are a Kratom consumer, it’s important to stay updated on the news and events surrounding the legality of Kratom in your state and your country.
The Power of The Plant
Shamanism gave us knowledge of a plant’s curative properties and the power that specific genres hold for our species. The connection between man and plant has been established since the beginning of time. Some scientists believe that humans and plants have a vital relationship, symbiotic in these terms in that oxygen is essential for both humans and plants to continue to thrive and survive. When we inhale oxygen our body absorbs it through a process called respiration. The carbon dioxide we breathe out is taken in by plants around us whereby they use it to produce their own form of energy. Man has been connected with plants from the first rising of the sun, and will continue to stay connected until the last sunset.
Kratom consumers should continue to expect to make this connection to Kratom, and all other essential plant life even more solid. There is a shift in the holistic movement in our world today. More and more people are going back to the roots of early man and learning more about the holistic power of these plants in which they already have a special connection with.
The Kratom community must continue their efforts to educate and inform other people who may not clearly understand the full benefits or scientific facts of this plant. The World Health Organization reports that 75% – 85% of the world’s population relies entirely on botanical wellness to ensure a better quality of life. However, the blinders are being set in different governments around the world. Corporations and lawmakers stand to lose when plants influence the lives of so many people.
What To Expect
Kratom powder has been around for quite some time in our world. The positive wellness influence it has on individuals who drink it regularly has proven tremendous. It is very important for Kratom consumers to continue to practice responsible purchases by acquiring uncontaminated Kratom. Lab testing is done by reputable vendors who care about their clients well-being and this care should continue to extend for any vendor who wants to sell these products.
Kratom has established itself as a very important botanical for the Indonesian colony, and now it reaches the entire world. However, unfortunate circumstances have shown irregular facts and mismatched evidence which would suggest Kratom is unfit for human consumption. This could not be further from the truth. As long as the botanical community holds themselves liable for the quality of Kratom they purchase and consume, and continues to have a specific standard for vendors, the plant they purchase will be uncontaminated. The American Kratom Association has undergone a rigorous “Good Manufacturing Program”, also known as GMP Standards, which will set the bar high for the community as a whole.
Scientists have discovered that when homosapiens settled this earth many years ago, early man was benefitting from the natural wellness of botanicals from the beginning. Research has shown that early man has been conducting his own ‘clinical trials’ on plant life since the dawn of time, experimenting with the flora and fauna that surrounded his current home. It has been said that the hemp plant was one of the earliest plants found in establishments like these from the genesis of our time.