The kratom tree, or mitragyna speciosa, is an indigenous tree to South East Asia that has been traditionally used for many years both recreationally and as a medicinal plant. The leaves of the tree are found to have potent properties that give relief to individuals who are suffering from opiate withdrawals, induce mild euphoria and increase energy. Additionally, the drug is known to be an effective pain reliever and has been used as a traditional medicine for this reason in Asia for many years.
The active chemical in kratom is mitragynine which is found in the leaves of the plant. This chemical produces an opiate-like reaction at high doses, and a cocaine-like stimulation effect at low doses. It is reported to have analgesic and mood-regulating properties. Traditionally, the kratom leaves are chewed fresh to give users a coca-like stimulation and give relief for a number of ailments, including pain relief and diarrhea. However, the most common method outside of South-East Asia is to boil dried leaves and drinking the resulting bitter tasting tea. Extracts that are made from the tea are also available and the effects of the plant are found to last longer when taken in this form. Kratom extracts and leaves are available on the internet, although in some countries the possession or use of kratom is illegal.
Effects of Kratom
The plant produces a simultaneous opiate-like sedation and a cocaine-like stimulant effect when ingested. Increased alertness, pain relief, mild euphoria and energy are the affects felt at low doses, at higher doses a dream-like state may be experienced. In excessive levels, the plant will cause a person to experience severe nausea and vomiting. Chronic, long term users can lead to dependency and individuals may exhibit negative symptoms such as a darkening of the skin, especially around the eyes, insomnia, dry mouth and anorexia.
Physical effects of kratom usually occur within 20 minutes of ingesting the tea. The reactions include elevated heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, feelings of warmth, mild depression, constriction of pupils and constipation. The effects can last for up to 5 hours depending on the method of ingestion and strength of kratom.
Legal Status of Kratom
Kratom is an uncontrolled substance in many countries including the United States, United Kingdom and many parts of Europe. This means that it can be legally used, sold and possessed without a license. Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Zealand and Burma all have restrictions on the substance. In New Zealand the drug can be used with an approved prescription.
Opiate Withdrawals and Kratom
One of the most interesting effects that kratom has is that it provides effective relief to individuals who are suffering from opiate withdrawals. As an alternative treatment, this offers many benefits to opiate addicts especially because kratom does not cause many negative side effects unlike other opiate withdrawal medication.
Kratom was first found to be beneficial for opiate dependency in the late 1800’s when opium use was incredibly high especially in parts of Asia. The drug works similar to the ibogaine plant which works on dopamine uptake pathways and stops conditioned responses to the drug. However, unlike ibogaine which is intended to be used as a quick, one off treatment, kratom gradually weans a person off opiate drugs. It has been found to bind to the delta opioid receptors in the brain which are known to influence a persons’ mood and levels of anxiety. However, kratom does not produce the addictive narcotic effects that other opiate drugs do because they bind to opioid receptors.
The analgesic effects of kratom give significant relief to the painful withdrawals that people experience when withdrawing from opiates. People will experience severe cramps, anxiety, depression, insomnia, sweats, pains in bones and nausea, vomiting, violent mood swings and diarrhea. Kratom has been found to affect a persons mood which can relieve the depression and anxiety associate with opiate withdrawals.
Substitution of Opiates for Kratom
Because of the powerful effects of kratom, this plant may be a successful alternative substitute for opium. As with other substitution medications like methadone, the drug works on gradually reducing the addiction to opiates. However, because kratom does not have high addiction properties, the drug offers more benefits than other medical replacement treatments. In Thailand and other South East Asian countries, kratom has been used as a substitute drug for opium addicts when opium has been unavailable or too expensive to use for many years. Some addicts have even used the drug to reduce the amount of opiates that they are consuming and moderate their addiction.
Recreational Use of Kratom
Kratom has become more popular in recent times for its unique psychoactive effects. As a legal high, the drug is easy to obtain through herbal shops and on the internet. With its increase in popularity have come a range of different experiences and methods for ingesting, including the development of potent extracts that are made from large amounts of the plant reduced to a sticky tar-like substance.
Many people will take the drug and experience the full the range of experiences it evokes from pleasant to uncomfortable. In low doses, the drug will cause a person to experience mild stimulation, mental alertness, increased energy and sociability. Some people will find this causes them to feel anxious and restless. High doses of kratom will make people go into a dream-like state, feel relaxed, mild euphoria and reduced sensation to physical and emotional pain. Nausea, increased sweating, anxiety and in some cases vomiting may be experienced.