What Is A Kratom Plant?

A kratom plant (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical evergreen shrub or small tree native to Southeast Asia. It grows up to 6 feet tall and produces large leaves with purple flowers. Its fruit are sticky capsules containing alkaloids such as mitragynine, 7-hydroxymitragynine, and 7-norbornanone. These alkaloids have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and folk culture as well as for recreational purposes.

Kratom is not a drug, but it does contain some of the same chemicals found in illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. However, unlike these other drugs which are usually smoked or injected into the body, kratom can be ingested through tea or eaten. There are many different strains of kratom available. Some varieties contain only one alkaloid while others may contain several.

The main active chemical in kratom is mitragynine, which is structurally similar to morphine and codeine. Other compounds present include atropine, pseudoephedrine, caffeine, and other stimulants. Although the exact mechanism of action remains unknown, it appears that the alkaloids act as opioid receptor agonists. This means that they bind to the same receptors in the brain that are normally activated by other opioid drugs like morphine.

Alkaloid content varies between varieties and strains, as well as between individuals. Kratom is used for medicinal and recreational purposes. In lower doses, it functions as a stimulant. In higher amounts, it sedates and acts as a painkiller.

It is also an effective treatment for drug withdrawal in people with addictions to substances such as opiates or alcohol. It is even used to prevent and treat malaria.

Kratom grows naturally in the Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. In addition to serving as a traditional medicine, it is also used for its psychoactive properties. For centuries, workers have chewed on kratom leaves for their stimulant effects to help them perform longer hours. Others chew the leaves before they go to bed to help relieve pain from hard manual labor.

In Thailand, kratom was traditionally used to alleviate the symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

Traditionally, fresh kratom leaves are chewed or dried and made into a tea for consumption. The pure extract can be eaten, smoked, or even taken as a pill. Some strains have been bred to produce alkaloid content. This allows people to more easily get the desired effects without having to chew on large numbers of leaves.

How is it Used?

Sources & references used in this article:

Kratom use and mental health: A systematic review by MT Swogger, Z Walsh – Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2018 – Elsevier

Do you get what you paid for? An examination of products advertised as kratom by OH Griffin III, JA Daniels, EA Gardner – Journal of Psychoactive …, 2016 – Taylor & Francis

Kratom exposures reported to United States poison control centers: 2011–2017 by S Post, HA Spiller, T Chounthirath, GA Smith – Clinical toxicology, 2019 – Taylor & Francis

Self-treatment of opioid withdrawal with a dietary supplement, Kratom by EW Boyer, KM Babu, GE Macalino… – American Journal on …, 2007 – Taylor & Francis

Long-Term Cognitive Effects of Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa Korth.) Use by D Singh, S Narayanan, CP Müller… – … of psychoactive drugs, 2019 – Taylor & Francis

Deaths in Colorado attributed to kratom by K Gershman, K Timm, M Frank, L Lampi… – … England Journal of …, 2019 – Mass Medical Soc

Pharmacology of kratom: an emerging botanical agent with stimulant, analgesic and opioid-like effects by WC Prozialeck, JK Jivan… – The Journal of the …, 2012 – Am Osteopathic Assoc

Kratom: a dangerous player in the opioid crisis by K Tayabali, C Bolzon, P Foster, J Patel… – Journal of community …, 2018 – Taylor & Francis

Opioid receptors and legal highs: Salvia divinorum and Kratom by KM Babu, CR McCurdy, EW Boyer – Clinical Toxicology, 2008 – Taylor & Francis

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