Kratom is a tree native to Southeast Asia that is widely known as ‘nature’s vicodin’. The leaves of the tree can be chewed, made into a tea, or dried and added to capsules that cure anxiety, depression, migraines and many types of chronic pain. The plant acts as both a mild sedative when used sparingly; and in large doses, as a stimulant. It can also be used to wean patients off opiate addictions such as heroin and morphine. The plant is from the same family as the coffee tree, and Thai people have used Kratom leaves as a form of medicine for centuries to treat conditions such as diarrhea, nervousness and opiate withdrawal. Many long-term users of Kratom claim that it is more effective at managing pain than many powerful painkillers such as morphine and vicodin, and is far less addictive than chemical narcotics. The DEA has placed Kratom onto their Drugs and Chemicals of Concern list in the past, and it is illegal in Australia, Thailand, Malaysia and Burma. It is available over-the-counter in powder form, dried leaves, capsules and as an extract, and there have been no reported cases of overdose or serious side-effects.
History of Kratom
The first documented cases about Kratom comes from the early 19th century after a Dutch Botanist named Pieter Korthals commented on how the leaves of the tree reminded him of a Bishops mitre and named the tree Mitragyna. There is not much evidence available on the use of Kratom before Europe’s colonisation of Asia, but it is generally believed that Asian people have used this herb for hundreds of years. Farmworkers would often chew the leaves as a pick me up in the morning in the same way as many people now rely on coffee. In 1943, the Thai government passed a new law banning the use of kratom citing it as a dangerous drug, although many people believe the move was to protect the government’s investment in the booming opiate business. Despite the ban, kratom use continues in Thailand even though the government imposes strong penalties on those caught with the herb.
Kratom as a Painkiller
Kratom is perfectly legal in the United States and many advocates of the herb claim it has similar pain relieving properties as marijuana. The web is filled with misinformation about this wonderful herb, and the DEA and many different mainstream news sources try to categorize it with the latest harmful drug trends such as bath salts. According to its users, taking a small amount of kratom extract everyday will benefit those suffering from all forms of pain including past injuries, nerve damage, headaches and arthritis. Kratom contains two compounds known as mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine which have been found to have mildly sedative effects when used on rats. Kratom is reported to be mildly psychoactive, and users have noted that they can experience feelings of extreme well being and blissfulness.
As well as pain relief, kratom can be used to combat fatigue, social anxiety, stress and is said to provide sexual enhancement for men. Many people also use it as a substitute for coffee as it provides a more level burst of energy without the inevitable caffeine crash after a few hours.
Possible Side-Effects or Drug Interactions
Due to its sedative effects, kratom should never be mixed with any other type of substance especially alcohol. A study performed at the Department of Human Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in Malaysia found that giving a mixture of mitragynine and morphine to rats in the laboratory reduced the amount of tolerance the rats built up to the morphine over time. There needs to be further research performed into the pain-relieving properties of kratom as according to users’ testimonies it could provide a safe and non-addictive alternative to strong pain medication such as morphine, vicodin and oxycontin.
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