What Does Kratom Do And How to Use It
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical tree that grows natively in Southeast Asia, mostly found in Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar. It is part of the coffee family. For centuries, Kratom has been used in Southeast Asia and parts of Africa for pain management, fatigue, and opioid withdrawal. They simply take the leaves and brew them into a tea.
Nowadays, people around the globe use the extract from Kratom leaves because it has been found to have both stimulant and analgesic effects. It comes in powdered form (typically to be brewed into a tea), paste form, or in a capsule or tablet. Kratom’s different effects depend on the dosage. Its analgesic effects are similar to that of an opioid, accompanied by euphoria and sedation. People use it for treating chronic pain, issues with digestion, and opium withdrawal.
Kratom as a stimulant, a sedative, and more
The function of kratom seems to depend on the dose. People report low doses of kratom to work as a stimulant. Kratom’s stimulant effects can include:
- Extra energy
- An increase in sociability
A few grams alone are considered enough to produce stimulant effects. Typically, the effects come on within 10 minutes and can last as long as one and a half hours.
To work as a sedative, reports indicate that kratom must be taken in a larger dose. This dosage ranges from five to fifteen grams. When you ingest kratom, its effects begin within 20 to 30 minutes and can last for as long as six hours. Kratom’s sedative effects are similar to the effects of an opioid and can include:
- Euphoric feelings
Taking a higher dose than 15 grams is thought to be risky, especially considering how little clinical research has been done on kratom.
Kratom has two main active ingredients, the alkaloids mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Some studies have shown these alkaloids to work as an analgesic, providing relief from pain. This is a common use for Kratom in the United States, along with its use for the treatment of opioid withdrawal. Kratom may also have anti-inflammatory effects and relax the muscles. Because of the latter effects, people often use Kratom to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms and muscle cramps.
Other reports show kratom to provide antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and mood-lifting effects. This is because its alkaloid mitragynine binds to the brain’s opioid receptors.
How to take kratom
Kratom users in its native region often chew fresh leaves once they have removed the central veins of the leaf. Once the leaves are dried, they can also be chewed directly, but this is less common. Dried leaves tend to be turned into a powder and mixed with a beverage for consumption. The dried leaves can also be brewed into a tea. Powdered kratom is usually mixed with water, milk, fruit juice, brewed into a tea, or even put in a milkshake. The taste is a bit bitter, so if that is bothersome, users recommend mixing it with chocolate milk or in a chocolate milkshake to mask the flavor.
Other ways to consume powdered kratom are to mix it into food like yogurt, or to insert the powder into capsules. You can also buy pre-made capsules for ease of use. Kratom is sometimes made into a paste as well and can easily be mixed with water to drink. Calculate the proper dosage of kratom by weight rather than by volume for more accuracy. Use a scale that can measure down to a single gram.
The kratom controversy
As kratom is known as an alternative medicine, it is important to make yourself aware of its array of potential effects on the body before use. Kratom has not been approved in the US for medical use, though kratom is legal. In other parts of the world, including Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, and some countries in Europe, it is illegal. Officially, as of now, there is a lack of clinical studies to determine its potential therapeutic as well as harmful effects. Studies would also help to understand how to appropriately dose Kratom and understand if it is safe to use. With its alkaloid count being similar to that of opium and psychedelic mushrooms, Kratom could potentially have powerful effects on the body. Alkaloids in general can have strong effects on the human body, some positive and some potentially problematic. For instance, one study showed that mitragynine, a major psychoactive alkaloid found in Kratom, has addictive properties.
However, some people swear by kratom and claim that it is often misrepresented. Just as there is a lack of evidence for its therapeutic effects, there is also a lack of evidence to show that it is harmful and has the potential for abuse. The FDA has released reports of deaths that involved kratom use, but their reports also indicate that other substances were involved, so it is unclear whether kratom was the cause. As with taking any unregulated substance, it is important to be aware of the potential effects of kratom to take the proper precautions and achieve the desired results.
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