Asia and especially Southeast Asia is known for varieties of Kratom plant species which have been used for ages for medicinal value. One of such plant species with medicinal value is Kratom, a plant that is native to Southeast Asia and botanically called Mitragyna speciosa. For many years, people in Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and other Southeast Asian countries have been using Kratom for its many benefits.
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What Is Kratom?
Although Kratom is well known to have been used before, it was officially documented by Pieter Willem Korthals, a Dutch botanist, in an 1839 publication. Kratom is a tree plant in the same family as the coffee tree (Rubiaceae) and its leaves have been used for medicinal properties. Kratom is indigenous to Thailand and grows naturally in the country although it has been outlawed by the government for reducing tax revenue in distribution of opium.
Uses of Kratom Plant
The medicinal properties of Kratom plant and how it has been used varies from one community to another. In Southeast Asia, Kratom leaves have been used to treat health problems and to uplift mood when chewed. At low doses, Kratom plant has been used as a stimulant and as sedative at high doses. Natives have also used Kratom as medicine for diarrhea, pain killer, recreationally and treatment for opiate addiction. Native people of Southeast Asia have used Kratom with increased success where other traditional herbal drugs have often failed or shown little success. Kratom is known to be consumed in powder form or chewed in raw leaf form to reduce symptoms of opiate withdrawal. In some isolated cases, Kratom has been used as a sexual drug to enhance and extend the duration of sexual intercourse.
Although not well studied on the pharmacological effects on human, the side effects associated with use of Kratom are mild with a few isolated serious adverse effects of chronic use of Kratom such as confusion, convulsions, hallucinations, psychosis, weight loss, loss of appetite and constipation. People with chronic use of Kratom have reported cases of bowel obstruction and withdrawal symptoms such as diarrhea and irritability which are generally short-lived.
Typical drug screening tests cannot detect use of Kratom although more specialized testing can detect and analyze its metabolites. Although serious complications can arise when Kratom is used with other drugs or substances, Kraton itself is thought to be a safe herbal drug. In a few isolated cases, deaths have been reported with use of Kratom but in all those cases, Kratom plant was used with other drugs or substances.
Is Use of Kratom Legal?
Kratom has been outlawed by the government of Thailand for reducing tax revenue in distribution of opium. In 2013, the Thailand government suggested the removal of Kratom from the narcotic drug list and recommended regulated use of Kratom due to its effects on the nervous system. Other Asian countries such as Malaysia prohibit use of Kratom leaves under Poisons Act of 1952. United States does not regulate use of Kratom but rather classifies Kratom on the "Drugs and Chemicals of Concern" list.