Kratom (Scientific name Mitragyna Speciosa) is a tree that originates within Southeast Asian regions. Specifically, certain countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Surrounding countries and provinces within the region may have some Kratom as well. But, the aforementioned countries have a reputation for providing the best Kratom with the highest quantity of alkaloids within them. Let’s learn about the history of kratom in these countries and cover important topics like is kratom addictive!
A Brief History of Kratom- Traditional Use
For generations, Kratom has been an essential as an herbal remedy to alleviate discomfort, fatigue, diarrhea and potentially more. In fact, because of Kratom’s unique chemical composition, it can interact with opioid receptors in the brain. Kratom has also been a part of religious ceremonies and as a way to relax after long days at work.
Kratom’s introduction to the west began in 1839, when a botanist embedded with the Dutch East India Service discovered its existence. Peter Willem Korthals initially named the tree Stephegyne Speciosa. It went through numerous iterations over the years until the name ‘Mitragyna Speciosa’ in 1859 by a British surgeon – George Darby Haviland.
Today Kratom or Mitragyna Speciosa has continued to enjoy a surge in popularity. This is in thanks to its potential benefits and few reported side effects.
Exploring Kratom Consumption
Traditionally, Kratom is ingested in tea form. People may take kratom tea at any point during the day for different reasons. In fact, traditional Kratom users have been known to prepare it in large batches. Thus, creating just enough to last them through a full day at work. This tea provides them with a stimulating effect, providing them with the ability to carry out their daily activities without burning out. Other ways traditional kratom consumption happens is by chewing the leaves. Some users prefer to chew the leaves, then spit it out after a few minutes but others like to chew and swallow the entirety of the leaves. It all boils down to personal preference.
In the U.S.A and most parts of Europe however, there are more ways to ingest Kratom available to users. You can take kratom as a powder which is simply crushing the natural leaf into a powdered form. It is also available for consumption as a capsule, as extracts or tablets. These kratom forms usually favor users trying to avoid the bitter after taste of Kratom tea. But it is important to note that Kratom’s bitterness is a result of the alkaloids present within it that is responsible for its wonderful benefits. And generally speaking, alkaloids are generally bitter.
Another way to get around Kratom’s bitter flavor is to ingest it via a method called the ‘toss and wash’. This method involves taking a handful of Kratom and tossing it into one’s mouth and immediately washing. It down with water. Although this method does not get rid of Kratom’s taste, it allows you to get it over with quickly. You can also mix kratom with certain food items to further mask its taste. Popular foods to add kratom to are smoothies, orange juice, and chocolate.
Exploring Kratom’s Regulation in Regions Across the World
Kratom is currently not having the best of times within its originating countries. In Malaysia for example, the use of kratom leaves or ketum is under prohibition from Section 30 (3) Poisons Act 1952. This has done little to dissuade the locals from using it however, as it remains readily available within most provinces in the country.
In Thailand, Kratom became fully legalized in 2021 and it was removed from the country’s list of Category V narcotics. This was a celebrated move as it also meant freedom for the 12,000 who had been previously convicted for kratom related offences within the country. Kratom is also legal in Indonesia although the government is considering placing a ban on the substance in 2024.
Next, we’ll dive into how kratom works and the question- is kratom addictive?
How Does Kratom Work?
Kratom works because of Mitragynine and the other main compounds found within Kratom. These interact with the body’s opioid receptors located in the brain. This reaction works in the brain in a way similarly (but much less intensely) to how most opioids work. The effects often kick in within 10 minutes of ingestion and could last for 4 hours after ingestion. Users could experience any of the following effects from ingestion Kratom
- Decreased anxiety
- Discomfort relief
- Feelings of relaxation
At low doses, Kratom has been known to have stimulating effects and these effects could last anywhere from an hour to an hour and 30 minutes. Kratom’s stimulating effects can be described as similar to coffee, but without the crash associated with a caffeine buzz. Other effects could include:
- Increase in energy and alertness
- Reduced appetite
- Increase in sociability
Like every other chemical substance, Kratom’s effects vary per individual, dose and ingestion form. And we advise all new users to begin with a low Kratom dose and work your way up towards an optimal amount.
Is Kratom Addictive?
The short answer is yes, slightly – the long answer? Because Kratom is from the same botanical family as coffee, it contains similar compounds as coffee does include the same ones that are responsible for fueling feelings of mild addiction in coffee users. That means that developing a mild addiction to kratom via prolonged, heavy use, is possible. So kratom is mildly addictive. Although Kratom addiction might be a possibility, you could also have similar side-effects from your regular morning coffee from your local Starbucks.
However, as a frequent Kratom user it is important we mention that you are more prone to experience some withdrawal symptoms if you choose to immediately stop your Kratom intake. Should you need to reduce or temporarily pause your Kratom intake, there might be an easier way than going cold turkey. We have prepared a step by step weaning process to help you through this in the best possible way.
Be conscious of everything:
Try not to put too much strain on your body as you stop taking kratom, you may already experience mild discomfort if you’ve been taking kratom frequently and in high doses.
Get ready for some side effects:
Like other caffeine-based substances, you should prepare for some symptoms of withdrawal to kick in as soon as you begin to get weaned off Kratom. Some of these symptoms include heightened irritability, tiredness, restlessness and it could also include muscle stiffness. If it important to note that the level of withdrawal symptoms experienced is dependent on your previous Kratom exposure levels, strain of Kratom and so on.
Do it slowly:
A huge mistake people might make when deciding to stop Kratom is to do a hard detox. This is wrong and very dangerous as it could lead to heightened withdrawal symptoms. The safe way to do a detox is to set up a timeline and work towards it slowly.
Drink a lot of water:
Kratom can sometimes be dehydrating. This is why you need to continue to hydrate. By staying hydrated, you are keeping your body energized. This will hopefully lessen the effects your body might be feeling as you stop taking kratom.
How You May Prevent Kratom Addiction
In general, remember to take breaks in your kratom usage frequently to prevent any kind of habit from forming. We hope you learned something about whether kratom is addictive, and can decide for yourself if it’s right for you.
We hope you enjoy this blog on the history of kratom, where it’s from, and how it became so popular! We also hope you learned a bit about kratom and whether or not it is addictive. Got questions or comments? Let us know in the comments below!
Please remember we aren’t medical professionals, and this isn’t medical advice- merely our best understanding on the subject. Should you wish, please consult a medical professional for more information.