More commonly known as what is kratom, the mitragyna speciosa is a tree indigenous to countries in Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea. It is an evergreen plant belonging to the coffee family. It has glossy dark green leaves that can grow up to 25 meters in height. Kratom comes with different names including ketum, biak, thang, thom, and kakuam.
Traditionally used in folk medicines since the 19th century in Southeast Asia, kratom has found its way into Western countries in recent years. Being highly effective, easily obtainable, and undetectable in most drug screenings, it gained massive popularity especially among young people who are not yet of legal age.
Culturally in Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea, people chew the leaves of mitragyna speciosa to help with pain relief, appetite, increase energy level and libido. However, you are most likely to obtain this drug in capsules filled with powdered leaf and chopped leaves to use in smoking or tea infusion. It has some characteristics similar to stimulants (temporarily enhance mental and physical functions) and opiates (alkaloid compounds in opium poppy plants).
Scientists have identified more than 40 compounds in mitragyna speciosa leaves. The two most significant psychoactive compounds are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG). They are both extremely potent agonists of the μ-opioid receptors, similar to morphine. Some in vitro experiments show that mitragynine can inhibit the CYP3A4, CYP2D6, and CYP1A2 enzymes. This means there is a high drug interaction potential in kratom. Mytragynine may also produce effects similar to that of a stimulant by interacting with other receptor systems.
Mitragyna speciosa leaves also contains rhynchophylline which inhibits the actions of the N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR). Physicians utilize NMDAR antagonists as an anesthetic.
Since ingesting kratom has similar effects to morphine, many use it to obtain relief from chronic pain. In Malaysia, there have been reports of people using the natural drug as a morphine substitute. Because of its morphine-like property and lower potency, people suffering from opium dependency have used kratom for opium withdrawal.
As a nootropic, users have reported of ingesting kratom to enhance mood.With its stimulant-like effects, healthy individuals have reported of becoming more social, alert and with increased energy levels. Some users even attest of having better sleep after consuming kratom.
Because of its opiate properties, one of the most common side effects of what is kratom is its addiction portential. It is important to avoid using this drug on a daily basis at low doses. Addiction to mitragyna speciosa could lead to lower libido, skin darkening, weight, and constant kratom craving. Withdrawal symptoms of kratom include depression, crying, diarrhea, muscle jerking, restlessness, runny nose, panic episodes and mood swings.
Apart from addiction, other undesirable effects of utilizing kratom may include hypoventilation, paranoia, delusions, sweatiness, nausea, throwing up, aggressiveness, nervousness, skin itching, and constipation.
Since kratom is a relatively new drug outside of Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea, it has not gone through extensive research and legal clearance compared to other drugs.
With a 2g to 6 g of kratom leaves, most users have reported the drug to have similar effects to that of a stimulant. At 7g to 15 grams, some only felt stimulant-like effects while others have described the feeling of euphoria and sedation-like effects.
At 16g to 25g, most users will likely experience potent sedation. At a high dosage of 27g to 50g, severe sedation, euphoria, hallucination, and delusion have widely been felt.
It is important to note that different batches of the leaves can have varying potency. Therefore, you must proceed with caution if self-administer what is kratom.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not designate kratom as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). In August 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) declared that it wanted to place the active ingredients of mitragyna speciosa plant into Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act. If successful, this action will put kratom in the same category as drugs like heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy. However, a number of kratom advocates protested against this, including those who have been using kratom to treat chronic pain and opioid dependency.
According to Scientific American, the DEA pulled back its original intention and will review the drug thoroughly until December 2016.
Since May of this year, mitragyna speciosa has been banned in five states, mainly: AL, AR, IN, TN, and WI. The US Army has also banned its soldiers from using the drug.
Since 2011, European countries like Sweden, Romania, Denmark, Poland, Latvia, Australia, New Zealand, and Lithuania have placed kratom as a “controlled drug.”
In Asia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forbids the use of kratom in traditional medicine and health supplements exported between its member countries. In Thailand, the government has made the planting and possession of kratom to be illegal. In Malaysia, the government has prohibited the use of kratom.
It’s important to consider what is kratom very carefully especially in areas where the drug is prohibited.