Kratom is a relatively new substance to the natural, herbal treatment industry. It isn’t yet legal for human consumption, however this hasn’t stopped many people from turning to the plant in search of medical relief and therapeutic treatment benefits.
So what are the known benefits from Kratom, and how does the plant affect users? To fully understand the effects, users should first understand the chemical compounds in Kratom, and how they affect the brain.
What is Kratom?
It is believed that Kratom has been used for thousands of years, primarily in Southeast Asia. Officially named ‘Mitragyna speciosa’, the Kratom plant is indigenous to:
- Papua New Guinea
In the past, Kratom leaves were chewed, or brewed in a tea, and administered to treat musculoskeletal pain, increase energy, appetite and sexual desire. Many believe it also helps with diarrhea, coughs and hypertension (blood pressure).
The chemical compounds in the leaves of the plant are actually alkaloids, and the two most prominent alkaloids are called mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Although they aren’t classed as opioids, hence why Kratom is believed to be a ‘legal high’, they do affect the opioid receptors in the brain.
In low doses, the alkaloids act as a stimulant, energy booster and can induce feelings of euphoria. In higher doses, they cause sedation, and can block the pain receptors, acting as a painkiller.
Different strains of Kratom
Kratom has three main strains; red, white and green. The colors are based on the color of the vein that runs through the leaf. These three categories are then labelled based on the country of origin. For example, Red Malay is a type of Kratom belonging to the red veined leaf, and originates from Malaysia.
Many strains are mixed before being sold, as the potency and effects can be manipulated when combining two different strains.
Each strain of Kratom has different benefits for the user:
Red Kratom – red Kratom is generally associated with its sedating effects. In low doses, users find it helps with sleep issues such as insomnia.
White Kratom – white Kratom is a mild energy booster. It is the most potent out of the three, so it isn’t generally advised for beginners to experiment with.
Green Kratom – the green strain is similar to white with its stimulating properties, however users find that they can maintain a clearer mental clarity because it isn’t as potent.
Although all strains of Kratom offer some benefits in common, other factors such as dosage amounts, individual tolerance, diet and the form of ingestion can impact how the user responds to the plant.
The health benefits of taking Kratom
There is a lack of scientific research into Kratom, however through users experiences and a quickly growing Kratom community, there are a number of benefits which can be derived from taking the substance.
In addition, Kratom is much more affordable than other alternatives, and the ease in which it can be bought online makes it an attractive option for users seeking a different form of treatment.
Here is a list of the common benefits of taking Kratom:
Users who suffer from chronic pain find that Kratom can quickly dull and alleviate their aches and pains. As the leaves are rich in analgesic properties, they impact the hormonal system which can act as a form of pain relief. In addition to this, the alkaloids target the pain receptors in the brain, effectively blocking them, allowing the user a few hours of respite.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, can be treated using Kratom, according to users online. Some of the chemicals found in Kratom are believed to aid blood flow, and some users have found that taking Kratom meant they could stop taking prescribed medication, with zero side effects.
Immune System Booster
Some studies of the different alkaloids found in Kratom state that the leaves have a significant impact on the strength and resilience of the immune system. As well as alkaloids, they contain a number of antioxidants and antimicrobial activity.
Intense withdrawal symptoms from opioids can cause the user to feel pain, experience headaches and a range of other ailments. Due to the pain relief and mood balancing properties, Kratom acts as a relief to the withdrawal pains. Many sufferers of withdrawal find the natural element of Kratom to be more appealing than prescribed medication, however users should be aware that Kratom itself can cause dependency and comes with its own withdrawal issues.
An energy boost is always well appreciated in today’s busy world, especially if it comes in a natural form. Due to its stimulating effects on the brain receptors, Kratom is great when used in small doses to increase productivity and focus. Sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome also find that Kratom provides a natural solution to medication. In East Asia, it is believed that laborers commonly drank Kratom tea to boost energy levels and enhance productivity.
Kratom can increase the blood flow within a user, and traditional, herbal doctors used the plant to boost fertility, as well as an aphrodisiac. Its stimulating properties also contribute to re-energizing tired libidos, improving the chances of conception.
Many sufferers of anxiety are turning to the growing world of natural treatments, and Kratom, known for its soothing effects, makes a good candidate. As well as anxiety, people who suffer from depression, mood swings and chronic stress also find that the relaxing elements of Kratom can bring some relief.
Some users believe that Kratom can regulate the hormones in the body, balancing mood swings and chemicals which can cause anxiety and depression. The fact that Kratom alkaloids have similar effects to opioids on the brain’s receptors plays a big role in how the plant can have calming benefits, however there is insufficient evidence to prove that it is a safe, long term treatment for mental illness.
Not as commonly known, some research has shown Kratom to have effects on blood sugar levels, and can possibly regulate the amount of insulin and glucose in the blood. This is an area massively lacking research however, so sufferers of diabetes should always consult their GP before stopping prescribed medication.
In high dosages, Kratom is very effective as a sedative, causing users to address issues such as insomnia. Certain strains, such as the red vein Kratom leaves, are commonly used to help those suffering with sleep issues. For some, the relaxing effects are enough to aid sleep.
The benefits of Kratom for recreational use
Using Kratom recreationally can increase the user’s mood, as well as induce bouts of euphoria. Unlike weed, Kratom doesn’t have the associated ‘social’ aspect that comes from taking the substance with friends.
In contrast however, it is a ‘legal high’ which some enjoy taking at festivals and concerts, as it can allow the user to have extra needed energy. In addition, users have a chance to de-stress, increase focus and energy and generally enhance some aspects of life.
Although many users enjoy taking Kratom recreationally, equally as many also comment on how the withdrawal from the substance shadows the recreational aspect.
The different forms of Kratom
In the past, Kratom leaves would be brewed in tea and ingested this way. Now, it is more common to find Kratom in powder form, and many users prefer to take it in capsules. Due to its bitter taste, most users recommend chasing down Kratom with a strong beverage or snack, however consuming Kratom with a full meal isn’t ideal as it can cause nausea. The effects of Kratom are more prominent when taken on an empty stomach.
Ingesting the powder is the quickest way to feel the effects of Kratom, which can come about as rapidly as 10 minutes after consuming. Capsules on the other hand take much longer to come into effect (as long as 30 minutes in some cases) as the casing of the capsule needs to break down first.
For beginners, capsules are a great way to regulate and monitor how many grams they ingest each time. As the substance affects every individual differently, many users find they have to experiment with different dosages to achieve the effects they want. Those conscious of developing a dependency find that alternating with different forms and strains, at spaced intervals, might help decrease the chance of addiction.
Taking Kratom for medical issues such as chronic pain, fatigue, and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, can significantly help.. However, Kratom isn’t a one-fit-all substance, it comes with its own limitations in the form of dependency and tolerance build up, and every user responds differently to the substance.
Withdrawal symptoms for Kratom users include hot flashes, fever, decreased appetite, aches and pains, as well as restlessness and aggression.
There are plenty of users who comment on the effectiveness of Kratom for their ailments, however without significant scientific research, taking Kratom isn’t completely risk free when used recreationally, or as a treatment.