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Common Names :Kratom,kratum, krathom
Mitragyna speciosa, kratom trees, usually grow to a height of 12–30 ft (3.7–9.1 m) tall and 15 ft (4.6 m) wide, although under the right conditions, certain species can reach up to 40 ft (12 m)–100 ft (30 m) in height. The stem is erect and branching. The leaves of the kratom tree are a dark green colour and can grow to over 7 inches (180 mm) long and 4 inches (100 mm) wide., ovate-acuminate in shape, and opposite in growth pattern.
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The flowers are yellow and grow in clusters. This genus is characterized by a globular flowering head, bearing up to 120 florets each. During the flower bud stage, the developing florets are surrounded and completely covered by numerous overlapping bracteoles.
Kratom leaves are constantly being shed and being replaced, but there is some quasi-seasonal leaf shedding due to environmental conditions. During the dry season of the year leaf fall is more abundant, and new growth is more plentiful during the rainy season.
When grown outside their natural tropical habitat, leaf fall occurs with colder temperatures, around 4 degrees Celsius. The kratom tree grows best in wet, humid, fertile soil, with medium to full sun exposure, and an area protected from strong winds.
Kratom contains many alkaloids including mitragynine (once thought to be the primary active constituent), mitraphylline, and 7-hydroxymitragynine (which is currently the most likely candidate for the primary active chemical in the plant). Although 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine are structurally related to yohimbine and other tryptamines, their pharmacology is quite different, acting primarily as mu-opioid receptor agonists. Other active chemicals in kratom include raubasine (best known from Rauwolfia serpentina) and some yohimbe alkaloids such as corynantheidine.
Also, as stated by and according to references on erowid.org, there are several countries in which the cultivation and usage of this herb (flora) are forbidden, some with very harsh sentencing recommendations. The native countries (in the Eastern part of the world i.e. Thailand, etc.) have enacted laws forbidding the plants’ usage for any “medical” reason. There is limited research on this plant because of the restrictions, and as of the past 10 (ten) years, this plants’ popularity as a “recreational” drug have become widely noticed. References to this fact are countless; it can be bought as both whole leaf, or “isolate” which has the active alkaloids in it. The claims that this drug can be used as a “substitution” for opiate dependence are rare and the studies that do exist are sparse; therefore, it is up to the reader to take note to the laws of the country they reside in as to weather or not this plant bears ANY medical use. There are varied reports that cannot be cited properly due to poor testing conditions regarding the plant’s supposed medical benefits. However, individual experiences with this herb (flora) have shown results ranging from that of a placebo effect to noticeable effects dealing with opiate withdraw. More studies are needed before accurate citation is possible.
Kratom’s primary pharmacology is mediated by the alkaloids 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine. While these molecules share structural similarities to the psychedelics, there is no psychedelic activity or similarities in effects to such substances. Instead these alkaloids primarily interact with the opioid receptors. Accordingly, kratom is known to prevent or delay withdrawal symptoms in an opiate dependent individual, and it is often used for this purpose. It can also be used for other medicinal purposes and is sometimes used recreationally.
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Kratom has been traditionally used in regions such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, but was discovered by Western civilization during the 19th century. Besides kratom (or krathom), in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands it also goes by the names ithang, biak biak, ketum, kakuam, and in southern regions, thom. In these areas kratom has a history of use by laborers and in folk medicine for opium dependence and diarrhea.
Of the two main active constituents, mitragynine has been studied more thoroughly than 7-hydroxymitragynine. At lower doses, Mitragynine exhibits a yohimbine-like binding to alpha-adrenergic receptors, as well as some binding to the delta opioid receptors. As doses increase, binding to delta receptors increases, and in yet higher doses, crossover to mu receptors occurs.
7-hydroxymitragynine was only recently understood to be the main active ingredient. Limited animal research suggests it is a potent opiate agonist, but with a ceiling effect that limits the potential for respiratory depression and euphoria. No fatal overdose of kratom is known to have occurred.
While one study of Thai users reported that kratom has sedative effects in low doses, changing over to stimulation in higher doses, this seems to be incorrect. Most other sources say that it is a stimulant in lower doses, becoming sedative in higher doses, which is consistent with mitragynine’s receptor binding profile. However, recent publications indicate that different alkaloids may be at work to achieve stimulation versus sedation: whereas higher concentrations of mitragynine are attributed to act as a stimulant, 7-hydroxymitragynine is the most significant alkaloid for sedation with more potent analgesic activity than that of morphine. Effects come on within five to ten minutes after use, and last for several hours. The feeling has been described as happy, strong, and active, with a strong desire to do work. The mind is described as calm.
Side effects, although rare, may include dry mouth, increased or decreased urination, loss of appetite, and nausea or vomiting. Heavy use can result in a prolonged sleep. Possible side effects from long term use include anorexia and weight loss, insomnia, and dependence. Comprehensive scientific and clinical studies have yet to be conducted to establish the potential health risks associated with consistent long term consumption of kratom.
Kratom has recently become more known and used in Europe and North America where it has been prized for its applications to many conditions and ailments, primarily pain, depression, anxiety, and opiate withdrawal.
The leaves of kratom have been used as an herbal drug from time immemorial by peoples of Southeast Asia. It is used as a stimulant (at low doses), sedative (at high doses), recreational drug, pain killer, medicine for diarrhea, and treatment for opiate addiction.
Inspired by traditional use, H. Ridley reported in 1897 that the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa were a cure for opium addiction. In more recent times, mitragynine has been used in New Zealand for methadone addiction detox. Kratom was smoked whenever the patient experienced withdrawal symptoms, over a 6 week treatment period. Patients reported a visualization effect taking place at night in the form of vivid hypnagogic dreams. While working on plans for ibogaine experiments in the USA, Cures Not Wars activist Dana Beal suggested that mitragynine could be used as an active placebo for comparison in the study. Acting Deputy Director of the NIDA Charles Grudzinskas rejected the proposal, however, saying that even less was known about mitragynine than ibogaine.
Although chemically similar, ibogaine and mitragynine work by different pathways, and have different applications in treatment of narcotic addiction. While ibogaine is intended as a one time treatment to cure addiction, mitragynine used to gradual wean the user off narcotics. The fact that mitragynine’s mu crossover is increased by the presence of opiate drugs may be exploitable in the treatment of narcotics addiction, because it directs binding to where it is needed, automatically regulating the attachment ratio and modulating it towards the delta receptors over a short time. Within a few days, the addict would stop use of the narcotic they are addicted to, and the cravings and withdrawal will be moderated by the binding of mitragynine to the delta receptors. Mitragynine could also perhaps be used as a maintenance drug for addicts not wishing to quit but trying to moderate an out of hand addiction.
In 1999, Pennapa Sapcharoen, director of the National Institute of Thai Traditional Medicine in Bangkok said that kratom could be prescribed both to opiate addicts and to patients suffering from depression, but stressed that further research is needed. Chulalongkorn University chemists have isolated mitragynine which researchers can obtain for study.
When taken as a tea, Kratom effects can be noticed in about 20 minutes. Generally, a feeling of stimulation and relaxation is noted, as well as a growing feeling of euphoria. Many become more sociable, and want to engage in conversation. In time, the stimulation fades and a strong sedation is noticed. This narcotic effect can be overpowering, and many will lay down and try to sleep. This can result in the waking dream state often times achieved by opiates. These effects can, in all, last between 2 to 5 hours. Extracts tend to take longer to take effect if they are eaten, but the effects can be noticed for a longer period of time.
Leaves can also be made into a crude resin extraction. This resin extract is made by preparing a water extract of the leaves, boiling it down, and then shaping it into small ball.
While new users may only need 5-10 grams of leaves to obtain the desired effects, some users find with time they need to increase doses, up to 50 grams leaves per day for a strong effect. It is best to take the leaves on an empty stomach.
One of the side effects of Kratom consumption is constipation and this is made use of in folk medicine to treat diarrhea. The fresh leaves are pounded and applied directly to wounds. The poultice of the leaves is applied to the upper part of the abdomen to expel worms in children.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.