Kratom

Latin:  Mitragyna speciosa

Family:  Rubiaceae

Parts Used:  Leaves

Taste/Energetics:  Bitter, warming

Properties:  Analgesic, stimulant, sedative at higher doses, anxiolytic, euphoric

Actions:  The kratom tree is native to many parts of South-East Asia and the leaves have been traditionally consumed by indigenous peoples for its pain relieving, stimulating and pleasurable qualities.  Kratom has now become a very popular herb in the West and due to its potency as an analgesic, for recreational purposes and frequently to help addicts wean off opiates and replace it with a more benign plant.

Kratom has numerous constituents that give it its complex pharmacological effects.  Two of the main alkaloids (mytraginine and 7-hydroxy-mytraginine) are noted to be the primary alkaloids that target opiate receptors as well as sympathetic adrenergic receptor sites- giving the plant both stimulating and analgesic properties.

Because of the ability of some of its constituents to bind opiate receptors, its addictive potential is also apparent.  When people stop taking kratom after consuming it for a period of time, similar withdrawal problems akin to opiate withdrawal will happen, including increased anxiety, pain, insomnia, cravings and depression.  Similar to opiates, kratom also causes constipation and is a traditional medicine for those who have diarrhea.  The half life of these main constituents with opiate like affinity is about 3.5 hours.  The duration of the main effect is about 4-6 hours with onset at about 45 minutes.

Kratom can generally be categorized into country of origin (Bali, Indonesia, Thailand) and three main groups-  red , green  and white leaf.  Green and white leafed kratom tend to be more energizing and stimulating and some say that green is especially useful for those with anxiety and depression.  Green strains tend to be powerful and long lasting.  White strains tend to be the most energizing and last the shortest time.  Red vein leaf varieties are more sedating and these varieties are more commonly used for detoxing off of opiates.

Dosage:   Dosages range from 2-15 grams per use.  1-3 grams (1/2 to one teaspoon)  is a small dose, and often causes more stimulating effects at that level.  4-6 grams  (1/2 to one tablespoon) is a moderate dose, 7-10 grams (1-2 tablespoons) is a strong dose and anything after that is extremely strong.  Strong doses not only tend to be sedating but can bring on heightened states of euphoria. There is also increasing potential for nausea and vomiting as the dosage increases.    Tolerance to the herb grows quickly and most people do not feel its euphoric effects if taken daily.

Dosing kratom can be done in several ways:  Usually by either making tea, rolling it in with something like honey to make kratom “pills” or most commonly- via the “toss and wash” method.  With toss and wash, one places a small amount of liquid in the front of the south and then adds the dose of kratom and then the individual tosses it to the back of the throat to swallow it.  One other method involves adding it to a small bottle and then mixing in some juice and then shaking up the concoction and drinking it quickly to avoid the acrid bitter taste.

The internet is now rife with wholesale sellers of both the powder as well as extracts, usually in resin and tincture form.  Extracts  are high potency concentrates usually made by boiling down , purified and tinctured to make the kratom highly potent.  Usually, the leaf is boiled in water until it is evaporated off, leaving a paste that is highly concentrated with pharmacologically active alkaloids.  The extract then is made into a powder, a resin, a tincture or an oil.   Those who study the pharmacology of the plant promote extracts that carry a full spectrum of the active constituents in proper balance, or what is known as a Full Spectrum Balance extract.  The potencies are often designated by 1x, 5x, 10 x, 15 x and higher.   15 x would mean that the plant has been reduced from 15 grams of leaf to one gram of extract.  Extracts are notably potent, addictive and often carry a much higher risk of side effects and complications, especially if taken with other drugs or alcohol.  Generally….avoid extracts.

Contraindications:  This is a potent herb tat should be treated with respect.  Its can cause nausea, dizziness, spaciness, anxiety and confusion in some, especially at higher doses.  There are plenty of folks who are taking this herb while also on psychiatric drugs but in general I would avoid taking kratom when also taking opioid drugs, benzodiazapenes, tranquilizing agents, alcohol, narcotics, z-drugs and other sleeping pills or when pregnant or breast feeding.  Long term and chronic use of high doses of this herb is associated with dependence and usual opiate like withdrawal effects.

Further Reading:

Kratom monograph  by Jon Keyes

Kratom articles at Reset Me