When you hear the word Kratom, you might think it’s the name of one of those giant creatures from the old monster flicks. "Oh no! Kratom is attacking Tokyo! We are doomed! Wait! Godzilla will save us!" Luckily for the citizens of Japan, it's not. So, if it’s not a big rubber monster trashing a film set dressed up as a miniature city, what is it?
Kratom (Mitragyna speciose) is a tropical evergreen tree indigenous to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea. It is a member of the coffee family and, in places where the plant customarily grows, it has been used in traditional medicine at least since the 1800s.
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Where the plant grows natively, various cultures have used Kratom leaves, either chewed or as an extract, for musculoskeletal pain relief, as an anti-inflammatory, as an appetite stimulant, as an anesthetic, and even used it to treat pain, diarrhea, coughs, fever, and intestinal infections. Some claim it can even be used to hold off fatigue, energize the body, improve sex drive, reduce stress, and as a potent mood enhancer. In Malaysia and Thailand, Kratom has been used as an opium substitute and many recovering opioid addicts today are finding that it helps with their withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, many patients suffering from chronic pain have attested that Kratom use has allowed them to wean off intoxicating and addicting opioid-based medications and alcohol to naturally manage their pain. So far, much of this is anecdotal and more scientific research is needed, but it shows a lot of promise as a natural alternative treatment for many ailments!
So What Do I Need To Know?
Kratom is not a drug nor is it an opiate. It is a naturally occurring plant that is used by many all over the world as an herbal supplement. It is closer to coffee and tea than it is to any other substance. It contains over 20 alkaloids which are a group of naturally occurring chemical compounds that act on many different metabolic systems in humans and other animals. These alkaloids, especially Mytragynine, are what gives Kratom its traditional medicine effects and benefits.
Kratom comes in three color-coded strains classified by the hue of the central vein of the leaf. Modern Kratom comes in powdered form as well as liquid which can either be vaped straight, mixed with your favorite e-juice, or taken sub-lingually (under-the-tongue). Liquid Kratom tends to be more potent as it is in a concentrated form. In a nutshell, the different strains are:
- Red - Used for pain relief, relaxing, and stress-relief
- White – Used for energy, positive mood, and focus
- Green – Naturally occurring hybrid of red and white
Kratom is legal in the United States with the exceptions being Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Vermont. A few cities have passed laws banning Kratom within city limits – check your local legislation to see if this applies to you.
Research, Research, Research!
Kratom can be an effective way to naturally treat many ailments. As a man in my 40s who has suffered from several back and knee injuries, I am hesitant to take many of the opiate-based drugs used for pain management. As my metabolism starts to slow, I find myself getting the 3 o’clock sleepies every day at work. For me, Kratom may just be the natural supplement I’ve been looking for. It may be the same for you as well. Will it give you the energy to be able to smash Tokyo with Atomic Breath? Probably not. Will it give you the energy you need to make it through the day and not nod off at your desk? I encourage you to do some research, find out the facts, and decide for yourself if Kratom is right for you.