What is Kratom?

Green Shoppers Written by Green Shoppers
Updated on September 5, 2019

Kratom is the common name for Mitragyna speciosa, a tropical evergreen tree native to South Asia. Grown in countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia, this plant belongs to the coffee family of plants.

Kratom is fairly misunderstood, with very few studies into its effects, side effects, and general safety. Nevertheless, it is often used as a stimulate, a sedative, and is also said to help with things like chronic pain. There have been suggestions that this natural alternative could help to wean patients off opioid dependence.

Aside from these effects, Kratom is psychotropic. It can be used as a recreational drug, so it’s sensible to wonder about its legality and potential downsides. If you want to know more about Kratom, then read on to discover all there is to know.

Is Kratom Legal?

In many countries, Kratom is surprisingly legal. Despite its psychotropic effects, Kratom can be bought online in countries like the United States. It is sometimes sold in a packet that says “not for human consumption” though, which surely tells you something. As well as ‘Kratom’, it may also be called Biak, Ketum, Ithang or Thom.

Please note that Kratom is not legal in the UK. It has been illegal since 2016 and is classified as a psychoactive substance. It cannot be sold, imported, exported or used.

As such, you won’t be able to get Kratom in Great Britain.

What is Kratom Used for?

Kratom can be used in a variety of ways. It usually comes in a green powder, made by drying and crushing the leaves of the plant. However, it is also sold in paste form, as well as in capsules or tablets. Some people in the United States brew kratom leaves as a tea, and it iss used as an alternative medicine.

Low doses of Kratom act as a stimulant. Coming from the coffee family, this is perhaps unsurprising. Just a few grams can cause a stimulant effect within 10 minutes, and the buzz can last up to 12 hours. The energising effect can also lead to reduced motor coordination.

However, when a dose of between 10-25g is taken, Kratom could produce a sedative effect. Users feel happy and euphoric but also calm and relaxed. The effects last up to 6 hours.

The active ingredients in Kratom include the alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These have both been shown to act as analgesics, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants. This is why it is used as an alternative treatment for chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.

Remember, this treatment only exists in countries where Kratom is legal – the United Kingdom is not one of these places.

Is Kratom Safe?

This question is kind of hard to answer. There have been very few studies on Kratom, but not everybody believes it is safe.

From 2011-2017, there were 11 deaths in the U.S. associated with kratom. Nine of these deaths included other drugs and medicines, including alcohol, caffeine, and cocaine. Two of the deaths involved Kratom and no other substances.

Then, in 2017, the FDA identified at least 44 deaths related to Kratom. Again, many of these involved other substances or were thought to have been caused by impure Kratom and products that had been tampered with.

Generally, the side effects of Kratom include constipation, loss of appetite, severe weight loss, insomnia, and discoloration of the cheeks. Most of these are minor, but the weight loss can be a problem.

A worse effect is the potential for addiction. Due to the nature of Kratom, it can cause a dependence and users will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it. Withdrawal symptoms include aching muscles, insomnia, hostility, aggression, emotional changes, a runny nose, and jerky movements.

At the end of the day, the potential medical benefits of Kratom have not been clinically proven. As a result, it seems a little hasty to take it as a form of alternative medicine when it has negative effects and no proven benefits.

The Takeaway: What is Kratom?

Kratom is a naturally occurring plant species native to South Asia. It is often used as a stimulant, as the leaves are dried and ground up into a fine green powder. Sometimes, it is used to brew a tea, make a paste, or put into capsules.

Low doses of kratom cause a stimulant effect, while higher doses act as a sedative. It is also a psychotropic drug, which has led to controversy about the plant’s legal status. Even small amounts of Kratom can cause hallucinations and lead to conditions like anorexia. Plus, it can have potentially fatal interactions with other drugs and medicines; since there is so little research, we don’t know exactly what medicines it interacts with.

Although Kratom is legal in the United States and is used as an alternative medicine, it is now illegal in Great Britain. We encourage our readers to avoid its use, partly due to its illegal status and partly due to the significant lack of research surrounding the plant.

Regardless, now you know what Kratom is! It was once thought to be a viable herbal alternative to opioids, but the truth is that it might be more dangerous than first thought.