Kratom is a herb that grows naturally and almost exclusively in the humid environments of Southeast Asia. Mainly it grows in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea; just to name a few.
It belongs to the coffee family Rubiaceae which is probably why many of its effects are similar to coffee. Both are very well known for their energizing and mood-boosting effects.
The real strength of this herb comes from its leaves which come in a variety, each with a highly unique profile of effects and benefits.
Historically speaking, the natives of Asian countries would chew Kratom leaves to stay energized while working outside. Others would use it to manage pain and discomforts.
Today the West is exploring this herb for a variety of reasons; most of which have to do with energy, relaxation, and overall feel-good effects of Kratom.
Is it Legal?
As of right now, Kratom is legal in the United States except for 5 states – Wisconsin, Tennessee, Indiana, Alabama, and Arkansas. However, this list is always changing so check with your state authorities to be sure.
However, is not legal in countries like Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, and many of the European countries. In the US, this herb is typically sold and marketed as an herbal supplement or alternative medicine. But, since the FDA has issued strict guidelines regarding Kratom usage, it’s best not to buy it from a vendor that sells it for therapeutic benefits.
Even though Kratom is legal in the West, the FDA sees it as a ‘drug of concern’. Many countries like the UK see it as a potentially addictive substance because of the presence of mitragynine. Mitragynine interacts with the same receptors in the brain as opiates so you can understand their reasoning. That’s why the UK has listed it in the Psychoactive Substances Act.
How Does Kratom Work?
Kratom’s two stars are active alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Both of these work in a way similar to morphine and codeine because they interact with the same receptors in the brain.
However, unlike any opiate, Kratom does not exhibit any addictive behavior. And so, under controlled usage, most people should have no trouble going off it.
Please note most of Kratom’s mechanisms underlying its interactions are largely unknown. It’s very possible that some yet to be discovered alkaloid might be involved in its interactions and working mechanisms in the body.
Only time will tell.
Why is Kratom Controversial?
The fact that there is not much in-depth research on Kratom is why there is so much confusion and fear surrounding it. It could also be the reason why the FDA doesn’t recommend it. However, that hasn’t stopped people from using it in a variety of ways, especially in the form of kratom tea.
Clinical studies are essential not only to establish its therapeutic potential but also to identify its long-term side effects, if any. Since those studies are yet to be done, Kratom’s safety aspect has remained in flux over the years.
Another thing— since any government body does not regulate it, most people have no clue as to what dosage is safe and what might pose harm.
In the absence of any set guidelines regarding Kratom usage, every user needs to exercise certain precautions before taking it.
Some of those are:
- Always start low and measure your dose accurately. Unmonitored Kratom doses can have unpredictable effects that a user probably didn’t see coming. Some of those side effects can be nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, constipation, running nose, and breathing difficulties. To avoid that, always start with a dose as low as 1-2 grams; especially if you are a first-time user. Use a digital scale to measure an accurate dosage. This will avoid accidental overdosing.
- Study Kratom strains and their effects. Kratom is a variety herb. It has many forms and no two forms will exhibit the same effects. While some promote relaxation, other forms can make you energized, motivated, and focused. You should study the particular strand gone into a certain Kratom product before consuming it.
- Only buy the best quality products. Some products contain adulterants like hydrocodone and fentanyl. And, since no one monitors Kratom’s product sales and distribution it can be hard to determine its quality. Therefore, always go with a trusted Kratom product supplier that has lab-test products to ensure potency and purity.
- Stay hydrated. Some people might feel strangely thirsty when taking Kratom. You should, therefore, have plenty of water handy to manage dehydration. A
- Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery. If you are inexperienced and don’t know how different Kratom doses will affect your body, there’s a good chance its effects could go suddenly go from relaxing to sedative. Therefore, it’s best to avoid engaging in any potentially dangerous activities like driving where you need your cognitive abilities to stay sharp.
It’s hard to establish the validity of Kratom’s medicinal properties due to lacking research. However, stories are floating all around the internet where users saw excellent results in terms of pain management and relaxation.
Many have gone on to replace their green teas and black coffee with Kratom tea as they get all the benefits of the former without the jitters and nervousness.
In the end, it comes down to being a responsible consumer and weighing the pros and cons before introducing any new supplement or herb into your diet.