What Is A Kratom Plant – Kratom Plant Care And Information
By Liz Baessler
Kratom plants are native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and, as such, are a little difficult to grow in non-tropical climates. It is possible, though. Learn more about kratom plant care and tips on growing a kratom plant in this article.
We all know that herbs make great companions in the garden and kitchen. Herbs also have a long history as a natural remedy—and many other more unusual uses, too! Read on…
Romans paid taxes with anise, and it was used in cough drops.
Anise seed steeped in milk is said to be a sleep-producing drink, but it is also quite likely that the warm milk alone would do the trick.
Precious to lovers in Italy and considered sacred in India. Many years ago, Italian men wore a sprig of basil to indicate their intended marriage. A cup of basil tea after dinner helps digestion. Ease a headache by drinking tomato juice blended with fresh basil.
The Romans believed the herb to be an antidepressant, and ancient Celtic warriors took it for courage.
Caraway was used to scent perfumes and soaps. The Greeks used it for upset stomachs.
Eating a whole plant would cure hiccups chervil was said to warm old and cold stomachs.
Bunches of chives hung in your home were used to drive away diseases and evil.
Romans made wreaths and garlands out of dill. Dill keeps witches away.
Bunches of fennel were used to drive off witches. It was used in love potions and as an appetite suppressant.
It was thought to give strength and courage. Aristotle noted garlic’s use as a guard against the fear of water. It’s also been widely used against evil powers.
Chewing on a piece of the dried root will keep you awake. Lovage warms a cold stomach and help digestion. Added to bathwater, it was believed to relieve skin problems.
The Greeks believed it could revive the spirits of anyone who inhaled it. At weddings wreaths and garlands were made of marjoram.
It was believed to cure hiccups and counteract sea-serpent stings. The Romans wore peppermint wreaths on their heads. It was added to bathwater for its fragrance.
Used for “sour humours” that plagued old farmers. Also used for scorpion and spider bites.
Used for wreaths and in funeral ceremonies. Believed to repel head lice and attract rabbits.
Rosemary in your hair will improve your memory. It will protect you from evil spirits if you put a sprig under your pillow.
Thought to promote strength and longevity and believed to cure warts. American Indians used it as a toothbrush.
It was believed to be an aphrodisiac. Some thought it was a cure for deafness.
Put in shoes before long walking trips to give strength. It has been used to relieve toothache and as an antifungal.
Burning thyme gets rid of insects in your house. A bed of thyme was thought to be a home for fairies.
Anyone who has sage planted in the garden is reputed to do well in business.
What Is Kratom Powder?
When many people think about addictive drug, they think of the most well-known illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine. But there are other substances that are just as sinister and addictive. If you have been hearing whisperings about a new drug, you may find yourself asking, “What is kratom powder?” To better understand the many dangers of kratom and what effects it can have on a person, it is important to learn the basic facts about kratom powder and what to do if anyone you love has encountered this substance already.
What Is Kratom Powder?
Of course, the first question to address is, “What is kratom powder?” While kratom powder is a relatively new drug in the United States, it is not so new in the world. In fact, it has been used in Southeast Asia for years for various purposes including to treat pain and diarrhea, and as a recreational drug.
This drug is named after the tree from which it is derived, the kratom tree. Kratom powder is actually made from the leaves of that tree and, sometimes, the drug is purchased in full leaf form. One of the most popular ways to get kratom powder in the United States is in capsule pill form. The substance inside of the capsule is a powder.
How Do People Use Kratom?
Generally speaking, kratom is ingested. This means that a person swallows it as a pill (the capsule form) or uses crushed or chopped kratom leaves in food or teas. There have not been documented cases of this drug being snorted or injected. However, because kratom capsules contain a refined powder form of the drug, it is possible that somebody could open the capsules and snort the powder in an attempt to get a more rapid result.
How Strong is Kratom Powder?
Kratom powder is a potent drug that generally takes very little time to take effect. Because of that, many people become hooked on kratom powder very quickly after beginning to use the drug as they crave the effects both emotionally/mentally and physically.
What Does Kratom Do?
Now that you can answer the question, “What is kratom powder?” you may be quite curious about the effects that the drug has on a person. To answer the question, “What does Kratom do?” you need to consider a few different factors. The exact immediate effects of the drug depend upon the dosage amount consumed. In small doses, kratom powder acts like a stimulant drug. This means that it will make a person more chatty, sociable, and energetic. If you take a higher dose of the drug, though, it acts like a sedative rather than a stimulant. In fact, high doses of kratom powder affect a person much like an opiate drug causing euphoria and extreme lethargy or relaxation. And much like opiates, some people enjoy that experience while others have horrible experiences with the drug.
Is Kratom Powder Illegal?
Kratom powder is not yet illegal throughout the United States. In Vermont, one of the main chemical components of kratom powder is illegal, therefore rending the drug unsellable throughout the state. Indiana also has banned a few chemicals commonly associated with kratom, but because of legal loopholes, it can still be sold in the state. The other 48 states have yet to catch up with this latest drug trend and the dangers it can pose. However, the nation of Thailand has banned the drug entirely and other countries throughout Asia are considering similar legislation.
What Are the Dangers of Kratom?
Kratom powder poses numerous dangers to those people that consume the drug. Some of these kratom dangers include:
- Vomiting (sometimes severe)
- Anger and agitation
- Psychotic episodes
If you or someone you know is struggling with kratom abuse, there is help available.
Release the Kratom: Inside America's Hottest New Drug Culture
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Just about the only thing everyone agrees on is that kratom is a plant, a tropical evergreen tree that grows wild in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea. Photograph: Getty Images
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By her mid-20s, Faith Day was out of jail but homeless. She was also addicted to a substance now too legally compromising to name. When she tried to quit, she couldn’t afford the medication to manage the withdrawal symptoms. She looked to the internet for answers. News about a plant called kratom kept popping up in her social media feeds, alongside claims that consuming it would help her break free of addiction. Desperate, she used her last $140—money that would have otherwise gone to the destructive drug—on an ounce she found at a head shop.
Two weeks later, she was off the drug. She has not relapsed since. Now, Day devotes her life and career to kratom. She’s no back-alley pusher—her goal is get kratom out of head shops, gas stations, and dark street corners and into the safe, legal light of day.
Matt Simon and Nick Stockton
By some scientists’ count, there are between 10 million and 15 million kratom users in the US alone. They are using the drug for everything from chronic pain relief to replacement for their morning coffee. It is not an illicit substance unless you live in one of the six states where kratom possession is criminalized, or are part of the US Army or Navy, which also banned the drug, kratom capsules, extracts, and teas are legal to buy and sell. However, after finding kratom in the systems of dozens of people who have died of drug overdoses, the federal government has been considering a total ban. It warns consumers of potential opioid-like effects, though scientists have questioned the FDA’s methodology in coming to that conclusion. Some people, like Day, will tell you kratom saved their lives. Others ask her if she’s selling “legal heroin.”
Day’s is one of only two kratom businesses licensed by the Department of Agriculture in the entire country. If you ignored the sign, her Oregon storefront, Clean Kratom Portland, could be a coffee shop or a trendy marijuana dispensary. The air is sweet and spicy with incense, the walls bright white and pale green, the plants plentiful, the bar wood, and the binders of lab tests numerous. Day greeted me at the door, along with a giant, exuberant husky named Max. She is wearing a long cardigan and a careful smile. Every visible expanse of skin is tattooed—hands, chest, neck, face. As they travel upward, the tattoos turn from birds and dots to the structural formulas of chemical compounds found in kratom. The arc of hexagons above her left eyebrow is speciogynine, thought to be a smooth muscle relaxer. She credits it with stopping awful withdrawal convulsions.
Day started her kratom business in Denver, and she’s in Portland for one reason only: Google Trends. Of all the people in the US, it’s Portlanders who search for kratom the most per capita. It’s hard to say why that might be—the reasons people give for using kratom vary widely. It’s equally fruitless to try to stereotype an average American kratom user. Many are trying to quit opioids or alcohol. Others are trying to manage chronic pain, improve their eyesight, clear up their skin, boost their immune systems, or just have fun and get high. “A third of our clientele are looking for a caffeine-free alternative to get them through their day,” Day says. “I’m talking soccer moms.”
The image of wealthy moms slurping kratom tea in lieu of a cappuccino, or trendy Bay Area residents popping kratom pills socially just for its mild, mellow body high, cuts strangely against the dire tone of most government reports on kratom. The US Food and Drug Administration warns consumers to avoid kratom, noting that it appears to affect “the same opioid brain receptors as morphine” and may come with the same risks of dependence. The CDC has reported 91 kratom-involved overdose deaths and found the drug in the systems of 61 other overdose deaths.
There was a reason kratom was so present in Day’s social feeds in 2016: The DEA had just stated its intent to ban kratom and reclassify it as Schedule 1 drug. Then it reversed the decision following prolonged outcry from the public and the scientific community. “I don't think that’s ever happened before,” says Marc Swogger, who studies the therapeutic use of drugs at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “I think they didn’t do any research about how many people were using this plant and what they were using it for, and they were surprised at the response.” Day is never surprised when people are surprised by kratom. The plant is surrounded by so much misinformation that it's often hard to separate fact from flackery or fearmongering.
Just about the only thing everyone agrees on is that kratom is a plant, a tropical evergreen tree that grows wild in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea. It’s a relative of the coffee tree. Within its native range, it’s been used for centuries (at least) as an herbal remedy, especially among day laborers who would chew the leaves for a mild stimulant effect. At the end of a hard day’s work, people might then brew the leaves into a tea, extracting different compounds purported to have a calming and pain-relieving effect.
It’s still used that way in Southeast Asia. According to Darshan Singh, a researcher at the University of Science, Malaysia’s Center for Drug Research, contemporary Malaysian kratom users fall into four categories: old folks practicing traditional medicine, manual laborers, people trying to get off opioids, and people who use kratom in lieu of other illicit drugs, sometimes mixed with cough syrup. (He notes that all categories do tend to share a gender. “Due to societal discrimation,” he says, “kratom use among females is not widespread.”) So far, there have been no kratom-linked deaths in Malaysia, despite its long history and ubiquity. “It is seen that kratom use has become [more of] a major issue in the US than in its local context in Southeast Asia,” Singh says. In Thailand, kratom is on the brink of total legalization.
Southeast Asia is a long way from Portland, and it took kratom a long while to get there. Kratom was described by a Dutch colonial botanist in 1839, but according to Oliver Grundmann, who studies the effects of herbal products on the central nervous system at the University of Florida, interest in the US and Europe didn’t become widespread until the mid-2000s and 2010s. (Though it’s difficult to draw causal links, that does roughly correlate to the rise of the opioid epidemic.)
Most of what Grundmann knows about today’s American kratom use has come from online surveys. He acknowledges that there are biases inherent in that kind of self-reported study, but outside of head shops and Portland convenience stores declaring “Kratom Sold Here,” online is where kratom culture lives. It’s where Day sold her products when she first got started. It was also the scene of the drug’s largest scandal. Last year, a seller in Michigan was forced to forfeit $1 million he’d made hawking kratom online because he was claiming it cured medical conditions like Lyme disease. Facebook is home to dozens of dedicated kratom groups there are multiple kratom subreddits. Kratom supplements, much like CBD, have become a frequently promoted product in the Instagram economy, especially among fitness influencers claiming it helps with recovery after tough workouts. Once you scroll past a few scary articles from the DEA, FDA, and the Mayo Clinic, kratom’s online presence is somewhat chic.
With digitization comes anonymity. Even after careful study, neither Grundmann nor Swogger are able to generalize about who in America is taking kratom. In 2016, after conducting an online survey of over 8,000 people in the US, Grundmann found few trends in age, income, or gender—kratom cuts straight through the middle of society. He did find that about two-thirds of kratom users were using the drug to treat chronic and acute pain or mental and emotional disorders like anxiety and depression. Only a minority were using it to mitigate withdrawal symptoms or using it recreationally, and recreational users tended to prefer other illicit drugs over kratom—the plant gets you high, but not that high.
So, are these some 15 million Americans using the opioid-adjacent killer the DEA fears? Grundmann sees the fact that a highly purified, injectable form of kratom does not exist as evidence that the DEA may have overstated its similarity to opiates: “If kratom were really so powerful, why don’t we see anything like that, despite having a sophisticated underground machinery that could easily come up with extraction techniques if they wanted to?” Grundmann says. “Instead, we see fentanyl and its derivatives contributing to the opioid crisis.” Swogger concurs, as do many other scientists. The compounds in kratom require a great deal of further study to determine what exact effects they do have, but while some bind to the same chemical receptors as opioids, they do so quite differently. Kratom is triggering the same part of your brain’s reward system, but in a way that is (perhaps, hypothetically) less addictive. “When millions of people say they're using kratom, and it’s helping them with conditions that are really difficult to help people with, we have to listen,” Swogger says. “I’m not convinced that a single death has been the result of kratom.”
By some scientists’ count, there are between 10 million and 15 million kratom users in the US alone.
Photograph: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Thing is, people are dying, and that’s not even the only reason to take issue with kratom’s rising trendiness. The likeliest reason for the fatalities, Day thinks, is less kratom than the substances being used to adulterate it. Shortly after she started posting about her own experiences with kratom online, a man who ran a head shop in Colorado began messaging her, and they became romantically involved. “It turned out to be a bad situation,” she says. “I got trapped inside of an apartment for six months and didn’t have anything else to do but work with him and watch this person making assloads of money selling kratom in a really inappropriate manner.”
Plant Origin and Background
Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa korth, comes from the same family as coffee, Rubiaceae. It grows naturally in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and labeled as a psychoactive opioid agonist, similar to morphine. It’s been used for centuries as both a mood lifter and a pain suppressant by locals in Southeast Asia. People who have taken it in various forms have reported increased energy and mood, euphoria, as well as pain reduction in various forms.
On the other end of the spectrum, there have been reported negative side effects as well. Recently, it’s been tested to help drug abusers, especially those with opiate addiction like methamphetamines, cocaine and heroine. It’s been found to be helpful in weaning addictions and lessening the withdrawal effects, if not completely subsiding the side effects.
Studies are still ongoing as to the long- and short-term effects in this arena. The tree extract was seen as a possible aid for abusers since it contained opiates itself and would bind the μ-opioid receptors in the brain, but they don’t intervene in physical dependence like other harsher opioids often do.
The plant contains over 40 compounds and more than 25 alkaloids. Specifically, its abundant alkaloid compound mitragynine has been discovered to be more effective at lessening withdrawals than methadone. Alkaloids have been used for thousands of years in treatments of various illnesses, as well as psychoactive drug use.
However, because of the bioactive nature of alkaloids, they can also have very harmful effects on the human body. Historically, they’ve also been used to kill — Socrates was sentenced to kill himself by drinking hemlock in 399 B.C., a famous case among other high-profile incidents of death by alkaloid poisoning.
The secondary compound found in kratom that has controversial effects on humans is called 7-Hydroxymitragynine. This compound is also known to be an opioid agonist and in some cases can be more powerful at lessening withdrawals than mytragynine. 7-Hydroxymitragynine’s potency was found to be almost three times higher than morphine in some cases. The levels of this alkaloid are often very small in comparison to the overriding existence of mitragynine in the plant, and studies are still ongoing as to the effects of this alkaloid.
The area in which the trees are grown is a large factor in the potency of its compounds. Naturally occurring trees found in Southeast Asia tend to have much higher potency (for better or worse) than farmed trees in other areas of the world or those grown in greenhouses.
- What is kratom and what are the benefits? Also known as Mitragyna speciosa, it is a type of plant that is used to boost energy levels, reduce pain and treat addiction.
- While the subject of regulating or completely banning it has been heating up, legislators are determining new laws while reviewing the side effects and precautions of taking this botanical substance. A recent suicide linked to abuse of the plant has intensified the debate, as well as a rise in impure batches due to increased demands and mixing the kratom powder with other drugs.
- Regulators and researchers will continue to research the negative side effects, and for good reason. However, the positive effects on many users’ health and lives are also something to consider. For drug abusers who use it in a short-term, controlled and positive way to end their lethal drug addictions, it can truly be life-saving.
- It remains to be seen how it will be treated legally across the U.S., but the studies and news will certainly continue on whether or not it should be considered a safe stimulant, pain reliever and effective drug addiction treatment, or if it should be banned just like any other dangerous, illegal and addictive drug.
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