Kratom, or Mitragyna Speciosa, is a tree found in some parts of southeastern South-East Asia. It has a long history of use in this region for it's stimulant and narcotic effects. Kratom seems to be popular among older males in Thailand & Malaysia, where it is often chewed to help aid with physical labor. The working class seems to use Kratom for much the same reasons Americans use coffee. It has become somewhat of a crutch for those engaging in hard physical labor. Kratom has been made illegal, but Kratom use is still widespread, since Kratom trees grow in these regions.

The use of Kratom, Mitragyna speciosa


Doses: Typical Kratom doses vary widely depending on such factors as potency and tolerance of the user. Strong Kratom has been marketed as "Premium Kratom" and it is often effective at a range of 3 to 5 grams of leaf material. Some new users can notice the effects with as little as 2 grams while experienced users might feel comfortable taking up to 10 grams of potent Kratom. Weaker Kratom has been sold under such titles as extra strength and commercial grade Kratom. Some low quality kratom does need more than 10 grams for a dose. In rare cases, extremely low quality kratom can have a dose of 20 grams or more. Such doses mostly come with nausea. A cause for low quality can be that Kratom loses potency over time. Since Kratom potency can vary so widely, it is recommended that new users take smaller doses and work up to decrease the risk of nausea. Large amount of commercial Kratom is known for giving powerful hangovers if large doses are attempted.

Kratom is sometimes extracted and sold as well. Crude extracts can be effective at small doses such as 1 gram. Some users even claim some extract is effective at doses under a gram. Like Kratom itself, extracts can also vary widely in potency depending on methods of extracting and potency of Kratom used. Some cheaper extracts have been found to be effective around the 12 gram range.

How to use Kratom: There are many ways of consuming Kratom, but the most common method outside Asia is by boiling dried Kratom, straining, and drinking the tea. The resulting liquid can be boiled down to produce extract, which can be stored for longer periods of time. Extract can also be reboiled or consumed by swallowing. Though eaten extract takes longer to take effect, and is not as powerful, the effects can be noticed for a longer time.

In South-East Asia, Kratom is most often chewed fresh in whole leaf form. Since Kratom grows in South-East Asia, it can be picked and sold in a relatively quick time, without fear of rotting. Many claim that fresh Kratom has a much less bitter taste than dried material. Kratom in South-East Asia is often times used as a tea or extract as well. Lemon juice can be added to help extract the active alkaloids in the leaf. [1]

Recreational Use of Kratom

In recent years Kratom has become much better known outside South-East Asia; it has been sold for its narcotic effects around the world, mainly via internet vendors. By affecting the Mu and Delta opioid receptors much like opiates do, Kratom provides a calm and relaxing euphoria mirroring that of opiates. Kratom appears to affect the brain in the same way typical opiates do. However, it contains over 25 different alkaloids that have different effects, including stimulant properties. Tolerance develops, requiring more material to achieve the same effects. It is recommended that users do not use Kratom more than twice a week, to minimize the development of tolerance. Cross-tolerance has also been noted. This means that a user can consume Kratom and build a tolerance for both Kratom and opiates. This could pose a problem for doctors prescribing pain medication to someone after regular Kratom use.

Medicinal Use of Kratom

Kratom has been used in South-East Asia for conditions such as intestinal infections, muscle pain, to reduce coughing and diarrhea. Malay and Thai natives use Kratom for its opium and coca-like effects to enhance tolerance towards for hard work in extreme heat. Due to its analgesic (pain relieving) properties, Kratom has also been used by some to treat pain. Some research has been done with regards to analgesic potential, but neither Kratom nor its alkaloids have been utilized in modern medicine. Mitragynine has less analgesic effects than morphine, though it is still potentially useful in treating minor to moderate pain. Generally there is a high amount of mitragynine in the Kratom plant, making it practical to extract. 7-hydrohydroxymitragynine has been shown to have much stronger analgesic effects than morphine, but it is less abundant in the Kratom plant. It might not be practical to extract this alkaloid from the Kratom plant, but if mitragynine can be converted into 7-hydrohydroxymitragynine, it might emerge as a replacement for modern opiate medication. [1]

Opiate detox

Kratom can lessen the severity of opiate withdrawals because it containes opiates itself. Opiates bind to mu opioid receptors in the brain. This is the reason that opiate users experience the powerful euphoric effects. Kratom's active alkaloids bind to the mu opioid receptors, though there are many different alkaloids and some may bind to kappa opioid receptors. The kappa opioid receptors do not mediate physical dependance (addiction) therefore kratom may be less addictive than other opiates in some individuals. [2]

Kratom as a Opiate substitute

Since Kratom affects the brain like opiates; Kratom has been a popular opiate substitute in some parts of South-East Asia. Many opium addicts in Thailand are reported to chew Kratom leaves if opium is not available. In most cases, Kratom is just used as a substitute until more opium can be acquired, though some opiate users do combine the two drugs.

Kratom as a Sex enhancer

Some users claim that Kratom allows them to perform sexually for a much longer period of time than normal. For many people, Kratom reduces the sensitivity in the sexual organs, thus requiring more time to reach an orgasm. Kratom seems to have a negative effect on sexual performance though. Many report that Kratom causes temporary erectile problems.

Kratom & cancer prevention

There have been some claims that Kratom can reduce the chances of getting some forms of cancer. There is no scientific research to back these claims up.

Effects of Kratom

Kratom affects the mind and body like opiates. Physical effects include constriction of pupils, constipation, elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, analgesia, nausea and, in high doses, a hangover can occur. Mental effects include euphoria, stimulation, sedation, feelings of warmth, and in some cases, depression. As with all psychoactivesubstances, effects can very widely from person to person.
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. Extractstend to take longer to take effect if they are eaten, but the effects can be noticed for a longer period of time.

Health risks of Kratom

Kratom appears to be safe in recreational doses. There have been conflicting statements made on the amount of alkaloids needed to cause an overdose. Some pin the number at 5 grams, while others say as little as 800 milligrams could cause an overdose. These numbers are regarding pure alkaloids and not the plant matter itself. 800 milligrams of alkaloids is relatively close to 65 grams of plant matter, depending on the potency. There have documented cases of overdose, but no reported documents of deaths attributed to Kratom alone.

Side effects

Consumption of Kratom does have possible side effects such as nausea, constipation, sleep problems, and temporary erectile dysfunction. Extensive use can cause some problems such as insomnia, anorexia, weight loss, darkening of skin, and dry mouth.
There are reports of a small number of Kratom users in South-East Asia experiencing more severe problems from extensive consumption of the plant. Problems such as hallucinations, delusional behavior, aggression and schizophrenia seemed to plague some users. Some of these users were also using drugs such as alcohol, opiates and amphetamines as well. Any one of these drugs could have caused these severe symptoms, so it would be questionable to assume that Kratom caused these problems. Some of the people who did not use other drugs did display symptoms, but these were long time users, some as much as 40 years of daily heavy consumption. It seems unlikely that users outside South-East Asia face the same risks, as most recreational users don't consume anywhere near the same amount of Kratom as people from South-East Asia. It is recommended that new Kratom users start with smaller doses to avoid potential negative effects. Avoid driving and operating heavy machinery. Use caution when mixing psychoactive substances with Kratom. There appears to be no information regarding Kratom use and interactions with MAOI’s and SSRI’s, but if you take MAOI’s, do not use Kratom. People taking SSRI’s are advised to use caution when taking Kratom. Most people taking SSRI’s report no problems with Kratom.


Many psychoactive substance can be habit forming, and Kratom is no exception. One particular study found that half of long term (6 months+) users were severely physically dependent, while 45% were moderately physically dependent. More than 89% tried to abstain from Kratom in the past, and three quarters of those surveyed experienced cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they stopped using Kratom. [3]

See Kratom Addiction and Opiate addiction for more information on users struggling with Kratom addiction.

Growing Kratom

There are some advantages to growing Kratom, such as having a source for fresh leaves, which can be chewed. This is a treat that most people outside South-East Asia could never experience. A Kratom tree might also make a nice house plant with unique looking leaves. This is much easier said than done. The fact that Kratom can grow up to 50 feet tall (15 meters) and 15 feet (5 meters) wide is just one of many issues. Simply trimming the tree will solve this problem, but it would drastically limit the amount of leaf produced.


Young Kratom trees can be purchased online from some vendors. There is a wide array of information about cultivation, but many people experience a great deal of difficulty in their attempts at growing Kratom. With this in mind, if you decide to grow your own Kratom trees, don't think you're beating the high prices. With the high rate of failure, high cost of trees, and probability of weak potency, Kratom trees may be more work and money than the yield of material is worth.
As stated, greenhouses seem to produce little results with Kratom. Even if the trees grow, the potency of the material is almost always low. Most outdoor climates outside South-East Asia would not suit the needs of a Kratom tree. A tree could be placed outside, however, during the summer in many regions, while being trimmed and kept inside for the winter.

How to grow Kratom

Kratom prefers warm tropical swamp like conditions. This makes growing Kratom outdoors out of the question in most regions of the world. Green houses also are notorious for their failure in sustaining Kratom trees. Kratom trees seem to have a high rate of failure for a number of reasons, but for many, their interest alone is the reason for attempting cultivation. Kratom prefers humus rich, fertile, wet soils in a protected position, and is drought and frost tender. Seedlings need to be very well protected from sun and wind, but the maturing plant is quite hardy. The Kratom plant is a heavy feeder.
Indian seed distributors have sold Mitragyna parvifolia seed intentionally mislabeled as Mitragyna speciosa (Kratom) seed. This means that any seed offered anywhere in the world is unlikely to be the real thing. There is no confirmed commercial source of Mitragyna speciosa seed anywhere at this point. The best way to go is rooted clones, as cuttings do not root well and are vulnerable to infection. To deal with the fungal attacks and that clones do not root well, one should put the cutting in water with an air bubbler to increase oxygen levels; use a small amount of fungicide in the water to ward of fungus growth; change the water every day to reduce chances of fungus.
The simplest way to grow a Kratom tree would be to grow it in a normal pot and provide it with plenty of water. There is a wealth of information online to help with growing, so read all you can. If you are serious about producing high potency leaves, it has been suggested that a wind source stimulates the production of mitragynine and the leaves. A heat source such as a reptile heating light also simulates the heat of the tropics. There are a number of factors that have been suggested to increase potency however. The fact is, it's unclear as to how and why some Kratom is more potent than others, but climate definitely plays a major role. The leaves of Mitragyna speciosa are most potent in the late autumn, just before the leaves fall off. Plants grown in subtropical or warm temperate climate are weak in late winter and spring, but potent in late summer autumn and early winter. Kratom does not need to flower to produce alkaloids. Kratom prefers high humidity. Kratom can be grown under HID lamps (HPS or MH), but be careful to keep the humidity up. After the Kratom tree is a year old, it will be tall enough to harvest some leaves. You can keep on doing this. It will not cover a daily dose, but then again, that would not be recommendable. More info about growing Kratom plants can be found in the Kratom Forum.

Forms of Kratom

There are different types of Kratom:

Bali is widely sold and one of the most sedating/opiate-like types of Kratom. It is said to be not as potent as Thai Kratom, and with rather euphoric properties. Thai is said to be more potent and to have more stimulating properties. There are other kinds, from other countries in Southeast Asia, like Malaysia and Indonesia.

There are mainly two types of Kratom: white vein Kratom and red vein Kratom. Most users prefer a mix of both, even though the red vein Kratom is said to be more potent. The alkaloid mixture is just different from the white vain Kratom.

The following forms of Kratom can be distinguished:

Fresh Kratom leaves

Kratom inside South-East Asia is often sold in the form of fresh leaves or tea. Fresh leaves are commonly chewed to achieve the desired effects. Before leaves are sold or consumed, it is normal for the stringy central veins to be removed. This is done to help prevent the nausea that can occur by using Kratom.

Dried Kratom leaves

Kratom outside South-East Asia is mostly sold as dried foliage and extracts. Foliage is often times shredded or powdered for making tea. This Kratom generally is not fresh, and is significantly more expensive, depending on its potency. Foliage is often times labeled by its potency, with such terms as standard strength, premium and super strength. Some vendors have also tested the alkaloid content of their Kratom and categorized it. Most material falls in the range of 65 milligrams per 25 grams of material to 300 milligrams per 25 grams of material. Foliage tends to loose potency with time. Shredded and powdered material appears to loose potency faster than whole leaves. Freezing the plant matter can help prevent the loss of potency. It's interesting to note that although there are many internet vendors, almost all of the Kratom sold outside South-East Asia appears to have come from only a few different sources.

Kratom Extract

Some Kratom users also make crude extracts by boiling large amounts of leaves in water, and evaporating the liquid until a thick resin remains. The extract can be stored for long periods of time. Extracts are often times eaten, or made into tea. Most commercial extract appears in the form of thick, dark tar. Extracts tend to be made using acetic acid and water in the extraction process. These crude extracts are no where near pure alkaloids however. There is still a great deal of organic matter mixed in with the alkaloids. A few internet vendors have been reported to sell pure alkaloid extracts, but they are sold at a price range too high for most people.

Fake Kratom

Fake Kratom has also been widely sold in the past. This fake Kratom has been sold by some vendors with the name "mellow gold". There have been many claims of fake Kratom being sold in the past, but it appears that most Kratom on the market now is authentic. It is not known what plant matter was actually being sold as Kratom, but it is suspected that it is from a tree in the same family of genus.

'Krypton' Kratom was found to be adultered with O-desmethyl-tramadol, a synthetic opiate. Several overdoses have occurred between 2009 and 2011, resulting in many dealths. [4]

Kratom Pies

Some vendors recently started selling Kratom pies, which seem to be the new version of the extracts, since the original didn't work out well and many customers were unsatisfied with them.
Although they are rather expensive, many have had good experiences with the pies. They are easy to handle. The vendors sell the Kratom extract in pies and say that you could form small pills out of them and just swallow them. That is not true; it won't dissolve in your stomach!


They are rather expensive and most people say that they seem to be similar to many "normal" extracts- disappointing. In general, ieshey are not worth the bang for the buck, and the amount of alkaloids that they are said to have varies strongly from the actual amount.

Other Mitragyna varieties

There have been reports on alternative Mitragyna species other than Kratom. At the time of the writing of this article, no experience report has yet reached


There are ways to save money and potentiate the effects of Kratom. They are similar to the ways described for Opioids here. Most might apply to Kratom as well, since it works on the same Receptors as most Opioids do.

The first thing is to start with an empty stomach. Many have made good experiences with drinking grapefruit juice while taking Kratom, as grapefruit juice (primarily white grapefruit juice) contains polyphenolic compounds that inhibit the drug-metabolizing enzyme isoform CYP3A4, and maybe adding some (really, not much, as it would destroy the effects of the Kratom, like 30mg) DXM.

Honey has been reported to prolong the effects of Kratom by some users.

Purintrapiban et al. (2011) found that Mitrogyna Speciosa increased the rate of uptake uptake of glucose in cell muscles, associated with increased glucose transport activity via a rise in the activity of insulin-stimulated enzymes employed in glucose transportation for acute effects. Increases in GLUT1 content were responsible for long-term effects.[5]

Choy Ker-Woon et al. (2015) suggest that Acacia Honey seems to increase expression of GLUT1 in corneal epithelial cells.[6]

Honey might stimulate glucose transport activity, increasing rate of uptake of Kratom's alkaloids. GLUT1 content may have an impact on Kratom's longer effects.

Kratom Alkaloids

There are about 25 alkaloids that have been identified in this species of tree, including mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Mitragynine is believed to be the alkaloid responsible for most of the plants narcotic effect, but it is still unknown as to how the other alkaloids affect humans. 7-hydrohydroxymitragynine is of particular interest because it has been shown to have opioid agonistic properties, as well as profound analgesic effects. Studies involving rats have suggested that 7-hydrohydroxymitragynine is significantly more effective with regards to analgesic effects than morphine. 7-hydrohydroxymitragynine also appears to be absorbed orally better than morphine. It is likely that 7-hydrohydroxymitragynine plays a significant role in the effects of the Kratom plant when consumed. Kratom also contains the alkaloids paynanthine, speciogynine and several less abundant alkaloids. [2]

Even though Kratom works like opioids and connects to the mu receptors in the brain, it has actually similarties with tryptamines.

Ajmalicine (Raubasine) Cerebrocirculant, antiaggregant, anti-adrenergic (at alpha-1), sedative, anticonvulsant, smooth muscle relaxer Corynantheidine Opioid antagonist Corynoxeine Calcium channel blocker Corynoxine A and B Dopamine mediating anti-locomotives (-)-Epicatechin Antioxidant, antiaggregant, antibacterial, antidiabetic, antihepatitic, anti-inflammatory, anti-leukemic, antimutagenic, antiperoxidant, antiviral, cancer preventative, alpha-amylase inhibitor 9-Hydroxycorynantheidine Partial opioid agonist 7-Hydroxymitragynine Analgesic, antitussive, antidiarrheal; primary psychoactive in kratom Isomitraphylline Immunostimulant, anti-leukemic Isopteropodine Immunostimulant Mitragynine Analgesic, antitussive, antidiarrheal, adrenergic, antimalarial, possible psychedelic (5-HT2A) antagonist Mitraphylline Vasodilator, antihypertensive, muscle relaxer, diuretic, anti-amnesic, possible immunostimulant Paynantheine Smooth muscle relaxer Rhynchophylline Vasodilator, antihypertensive, calcium channel blocker, antiaggregant, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, anti-arrhythmic, antithelmintic Speciociliatine Weak opioid agonist Speciogynine Smooth muscle relaxer Speciophylline Anti-leukemic Tetrahydroalstonine Hypoglycemic, anti-adrenergic (at alpha-2)

The legality of Kratom, Mitragyna speciosa

Kratom appears to be illegal in Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Burma, Vietnam and, most recently, Australia. Kratom remains uncontrolled in most of the world, however. Kratom was first made illegal on August 3, 1943 after Thailand passed legislation making it illegal to possess or sell. Despite harsh sentences, natives and peasants continue to use Kratom. Attempts to destroy wild Kratom trees have had little effect, as the tree is native to Thailand. To this day, Kratom ranks second in illegally used drugs in Thailand, bypassed by cannabis. There are rumors that Thailand may soon eliminate the largely unsuccessful prohibition on the tree.

The history of Kratom, Mitragyna speciosa

The use of Kratom spans an uncertain but long timeline, and appears to have been isolated in southeastern Asia. It has been used for both medical and recreational purposes. Throughout history, opium use was widespread throughout much of South-East Asia. Some addicts turned to Kratom as a substitute when opium could not be found. Kratom was also used by laborers to help them through the long, hot work day. Generally, Kratom users were considered more desirable workers than cannabis users, since Kratom users seemed to be better workers. In 1897 H. Ridley reported that the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa were a cure for opium addiction. 1943 saw the prohibition of Kratom when Thailand made it illegal to possess, cultivate or consume. Though Kratom has been used for a long time, it does not enjoy a rich, often romanticized history like other drugs such as opium or marijuana.

Kratom was first identified by Dutch botanist Pieter Willem Korthals (1807-1892)
The first Kratom leaf specimen he examined had stigmas in the shape of a bishop's mitre, which lead to him giving it the botanical name 'Mitragyna'


  1. ^ a bFrom Kratom to mitragynine and its derivatives: Physiological and behavioural effects related to use, abuse, and addiction
  2. ^ a bAntinociceptive effect of 7-hydroxymitragynine in mice: Discovery of an orally active opioid analgesic from the Thai medicinal herb Mitragyna speciosa
  3. ^Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) dependence, withdrawal symptoms andcraving in regular users
  4. ^Swedish docs identify deadly legal drug (Krypton kratom)
  5. ^Natural Product Research 2011 Sep;25(15):1379-87. doi: 10.1080/14786410802267627. Epub 2011 Jul 8.
    Study on glucose transport in muscle cells by extracts from Mitragyna speciosa (Korth) and mitragynine. Purintrapiban J1, Keawpradub N, Kansenalak S, Chittrakarn S, Janchawee B, Sawangjaroen K.
  6. ^BMC Cell Biol. 2015; 16: 2. The effects of acacia honey on in vitro corneal abrasion wound healing model. Choy Ker-Woon, Norzana Abd Ghafar,corresponding author Chua Kien Hui, Yasmin Anum Mohd Yusof, and Wan Zurinah Wan Ngah.

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