What is Kratom
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a medical remedy, derived from a large tree, originating from the South-East Asia and belonging to the Rubiaceae family. It was first described by Dutch colonial researcher Pieter Korthals. This species botanically belongs to and biochemically similar to such plants as Corynanthe, Cinchona, and Uncaria. Kratom is in the same family as the coffee tree and psychoactive plant Psychotria viridis. Other Mitragyna species are used in Africa as medicines and as timber.
Kratom is a well recognized psychoactive substance in the region of its origin, it is also quite well known in other parts of the world. In the South-East Asia, fresh leaves are chewed (usually, on a regular basis) by workers to achieve stimulating effect. In other regions, dried leaves are brewed or extracted with water, which is evaporated to resin that can be consumed. Kratom can sometimes smoked: this method may produce some effect, however it’s much less noticeable compared to other use methods.
Kratom contains many alkaloids, including Mitragynine that was previously considered its main active ingredient and 7-Hydroxymitragynine (7-OHM) that is currently deemed as the most likely main active ingredient. Even though Mitragynine structurally resembles Yohimbine and Tryptamines, its pharmacology is quite different: it acts as a strong μ-opioid receptors (MOR) agonist. According to the unverified data, the substance has stimulating properties similar to those of Yohimbine. Kratom users report stimulating properties rather than sedative. Kratom also contains alkaloids that are found in Uncaria tomentosa (cat’s claw) and that act as strong stimulators of the immune system and decrease blood pressure. Furthermore, Kratom contains epicatechin, a strong antioxidant found in dark chocolate and similar to EGCG, responsible for the benefits of green tea. Other alkaloids contained in Kratom include: Raubasine (best known as Rauwolfia serpentina) and some other alkaloids found in Yohimbe, such as Corynantheidine.
Kratom has a high potential for medical use as, for example, a safer and cheaper alternative of Methadone, as well as a source of substances with a wide range of benefits.
Kratom can be used as is: in Thailand fresh leaves are normally chewed (after removing the central leaf vein). To avoid constipation, salt is added to the fresh leaves.
Kratom pharmacology is similar to other substances, such as opiates and Yohimbine. However, the comparison with opiates only makes sense when Kratom is used in doses high enough to produce the proportionate effects. Kratom is capable of relieving the withdrawal symptoms caused by morphine-like opiates, as it contains strong opioid agonists. But when Kratom is taken in such doses it may cause constipations. The analgesic effect of Kratom is similar to the analgesic effect of the opioids. Additionally, Kratom may lead to the inability to focus the eyesight, and this effect is sometimes described as unpleasant. It has to be mentioned that according to certain data its analgesic properties are 17 times stronger than morphine. Kratom also has hyperstimulating properties resembling Yohimbe and immunostimulating properties resembling Uncaria. The effects of Kratom use are described as comperatively short-term, usually fading away within two hours after administration.