Mitragyna speciosa, more commonly known as kratom, is a native tree found in most parts of Southeast Asia, and is part of the coffee and gardenia family. For several centuries, Kratom has been utilized as a herbal remedy in Thailand and neighboring countries for several conditions and to boost productivity levels. It is a dose-dependent plant and has effects similar to opiates.
It has since then expanded to the West, and has been widely used in the United States and the United Kingdom due to its significant help in aiding individuals who are struggling with withdrawal symptoms caused by drug abuse. However, a lot of controversy has spiraled around it due to both its capability of creating both helpful and detrimental effects.
Kratom is usually crushed and dried. Indigenous people usually chew it straight up, or smoke the dry leaves, while others turn it into a powder or tea. It is also available in the form of bars and capsules, which are more widely available.
Strains of kratom
Kratom can be acquired in different strains that contain different levels of effects. Some of these strains and their effects include:
- Bali (the most opiate-like strain): induces euphoria
- Green Vein Kali: a painkiller; stimulating
- White Vein Thai: stimulating; contains euphoric and dissociating effect
- Ultra Enhanced Indo: used for social anxiety; most euphoric extract
- Ultra Enhanced Maeng Da: highly potent painkiller and stimulant
This drug poses such a big debate, because it has both reliable benefits and negative effects. Let’s go deeper into detail with the respective pros and cons of kratom usage:
- Relieves opiate withdrawal. Kratom can assist in relieving withdrawal symptoms of opiates. The compounds found in the leaves when chewed, provides a psychological effect and an immediate sense of satisfaction, without having to result to abusing illegal drugs. Hypoventilation remains to be the biggest cause of death in opiate users, which is not a risk when it comes to kratom. It has also been said to be effective with getting rid of physical pain felt from the same withdrawal symptoms.While there is no sufficient research to support these claim, numerous cases have appeared of drug abusers who are slowly getting better due to kratom.
- Energy booster. Kratom also has the ability to affect metabolic processes. Moreover, it can give you that extra boost and a sharper sense of focus that can elevate your level of productivity. The extracts of these leaves can send more oxygen into the bloodstream and stabilize the boost, keeping it at a high but manageable level. This gives off the same effect you could get from too much caffeine, minus the palpitations and increased heart rate that a large cup of coffee can come with.
- Improves mood. With this plant’s ability to boost your mood also comes its ability to calm you down as well. The properties of this plant can also be used as an anxiolytic, or something that controls feelings of anxiety or panic. In addition, the leaves can regulate the release of hormones and keep it at a balanced level, whether it is to lift you up or ease your nerves. The trick here lies within finding the right strain for you: since there are several strains to this plant, getting one that comes with a potent power of increasing energy rather than calming nerves down would provide very little effect to those who seek a more peaceful state.
- Boosts immune system. While this facet of kratom is also yet to be supported by sufficient research, anecdotes of kratom users have shown how it can also give your immune system that extra push as it can improve its resilience and strength, and prevent you from acquiring illnesses.
- Promotes heart health. Kratom has also been associated with the distinct drop in the blood pressure level of those with higher than normal levels. As the leaves control one’s hormones, it can also contribute to reducing the inflammation inside the body, including those found in the arteries and blood vessels. By sparing the cardiovascular system from further tension in this area, it can aid in preventing serious heart conditions.
While kratom is technically open for anyone’s possession, it is only available as a research compound and not as health product, due to its alkaloid content. Even without sufficient research on the plant, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to ban its usage– here’s why:
- Addictive factor. With its documented effectiveness, some cases of physical dependence on kratom have been recorded over time. Its opioid like analgesic effects is seen as the main factor for then opium users to get hooked with this supposed withdrawal aid. While its euphoric tendencies are far less risky and potent than other drugs, it is still sought as a close second by those still recovering from their drug addiction.Moreover, its frequent usage in high doses have brought out effects, such as, hyperpigmentation of the cheeks, tremor, anorexia nervosa, weight loss, and even psychosis. The tolerance and addiction to kratom may also create its own withdrawal symptoms when stopped, such as irritability, dysphoria, and hypertension- basically the same ones acquired from opiate withdrawals.
- Digestive and liver problems. While it is unclear, whether the frequent use of kratom is the only culprit for these effects, there have been several cases of dehydration and liver problems associated with this plant, such as jaundice.
- Psychological effects. As with the abuse of other types of drugs, the short-term satisfaction you get from being dependent on kratom may also cause long-term psychological problems, such as, the presence of hallucinations, delusions, anxiety, extreme mood swings, aggressive behavior, and paranoia.
Too much of anything can be bad for you: while kratom evidently has its fair share of benefits that could give the body an added boost when used moderately, its psychological gratification may also become a point of concern for its addictive nature. When we wish to use something that swings around the grey area, such as this, let’s use our mind over matter and listen to what our body needs for the better. As with most addictions, it is important to work on your emotions as well, as repressed traumas and emotions can be an underlying cause that requires your attention and healing.