What is Kratom?

What is Kratom?


Is Kratom a Deadly Drug or a Life-Saving Medicine?

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical evergreen tree from Southeast Asia and is native to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Kratom, the original name used in Thailand, is a member of the Rubiaceae family. Other members of the Rubiaceae family include coffee and gardenia. The leaves of kratom are consumed either by chewing, or by drying and smoking, putting into capsules, tablets or extract, or by boiling into a tea. The effects are unique in that stimulation occurs at low doses and opioid-like depressant and euphoric effects occur at higher doses. Common uses include treatment of pain, to help prevent withdrawal from opiates (such as prescription narcotics or heroin), and for mild stimulation.

Traditionally, kratom leaves have been used by Thai and Malaysian natives and workers for centuries. The stimulant effect was used by workers in Southeast Asia to increase energy, stamina, and limit fatigue. However, some Southeast Asian countries now outlaw its use.

Kratom was also prohibited or treated as a controlled drug in at least 10 countries, including Australia, Malaysia, Poland, and Thailand.

In the US, the herbal product has been used as an alternative agent for muscle pain relief, diarrhea, and as a treatment for opiate addiction and withdrawal. Patients with PTSD have reported positive effects. However, its safety and effectiveness for these conditions has not been clinically determined.

But to others it’s painfree…

Here’s Susan Ash’s condition after taking Kratom

For days, Susan Ash woke around noon, ate a bowl of cereal, and went back to bed. That was all the living her pain would allow. Her neck hurt, her hips hurt, her knees and feet and toes hurt. “I felt like I’d been electrocuted,” she recalls. Her doctor in Portland, Ore., diagnosed her with fibromyalgia, possibly caused by past car and bicycle accidents. She tried physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care, to no avail. In 2008, at 38 years old, she sublet her apartment and moved to Norfolk, Va., where she’d grown up. “While all my friends got married and had kids,” says Ash, a delicate blonde, “I was at home living with my parents. And I was sick.”

To counteract her aches, she took three or four 30-milligram extended-release morphine pills a day, plus immediate-release ones as needed. Eventually her new physician decided she didn’t have fibromyalgia, but Lyme disease. Since it was diagnosed so late, the doctor told her, it would likely afflict her for the rest of her life. By then addicted to morphine, Ash added Dilaudid, a semi-synthetic opioid, to her regimen, then shifted to oxymorphone, another addictive opioid. Then, she says, “I lost all control.” She started snorting crushed oxymorphone pills off a makeup mirror to get a faster, stronger high. She’d use a month’s ration in three weeks, then endure a week of withdrawal.

Once, after her prescription ran out, she wrote on Facebook that she’d lost it, hoping someone would get her some pills. A woman she didn’t know suggested she try kratom, a green powder derived from the crushed leaves of an eponymous tree indigenous to Southeast Asia. Ash scoffed. “I didn’t care about a plant,” she says. “I was like, ‘Just send me your drugs.’ ” Eventually, though, she ordered some kratom capsules online.

They came in an unmarked zip-lock bag. Ash took six, and within 45 minutes, she says, her pain and withdrawal symptoms had become manageable. It didn’t deliver much of a high, but soon she was regularly using the stuff after her oxymorphone ran out. Finally, she decided to switch to kratom altogether. Several times a day, she brewed the powder into tea or ate it dry despite its dirtlike taste, washing it down with water. Her pain and opioid cravings subsided, her energy returned, and her mind cleared. “I was like a different person,” she says.