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April 2017--Kratom

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Kratom

 

Mitragyna speciosa 

Family: Rubiaceae 

Names: Ketum; Kakuam; Ithang; Thom, kutum, biak, biak-biak 

Description:  Kratom is a tree native to Southeast Asia reaching heights of 50 feet with a spread of over 15 feet. The stem is erect and branching. Flowers are yellow. Leaves are evergreen, and are a dark glossy green in color, ovate-acuminate in shape, and opposite in growth pattern. Kratom is evergreen rather than deciduous, and leaves are constantly being shed and being replaced, but there is some quasi-seasonal leaf shedding due to environmental conditions. During the dry season of the year leaf fall is more abundant, and new growth is more plentiful during the rainy season. When grown outside their natural tropical habitat, leaf fall occurs with colder temperatures, around 4 degrees Celsius. 

Cultivation: This large tender perennial dislikes cold weather and does not tolerate frost. Potted plants can be grown outdoors in temperate climates when the weather is sufficiently warm, and grown indoors the rest of the time. Kratom can be grown outdoors all year in tropical climates in wet humusy soil. Potted plants should be lightly fertilized every few weeks, but only when actively growing. They can be propagated from cuttings.  Kratom It is drought sensitive. Propagation is by very fresh seed or cuttings. There is a low strike rate, due to an endogenous fungus which attacks xylem tissue. 

History: Users of kratom tend to be peasants, laborers, and farmers who use the plant to overcome the burdens of their hard work and meager existences. Female users are apparently quite rare. Age of usage onset seems to be higher than for other drugs. Some studies have found no addiction problems in villagers using kratom, while others apparently have. Heavy users may chew kratom between 3 and 10 times a day. While new users may only need a few leaves to obtain the desired effects, some users find with time they need to increase doses to 10-30 leaves or even more per day.
          
In some parts of the country, it was said that parents would choose to give their daughters in marriage to men who used kratom rather than men who used marijuana. The belief is that kratom users are hard working, while marijuana users are lazy. This belief is also maintained by many of the users themselves, who report beginning use because of a desire to work more efficiently, and who say using the drug gives them a strong desire to do work.
        
The Thai government passed the Kratom Act 2486 which went into effect on August 3, 1943. This law makes planting the tree illegal and requires existing trees to be cut down. This law was not found effective, since the tree is indigenous to the country. Today, kratom is classed in the same enforcement group as cocaine and heroin by Thai law, and has the same penalties. One ounce of extract is punishable by death. As with prohibition laws elsewhere in the world, this has succeeded only at increasing black market prices.  

Properties: Stimulant; Depressant; Intoxicant

Constituents:
Over 25 alkaloids have been isolated from kratom. The most abundant alkaloids consist of three indoles and two oxindoles. The three indoles are mitragynine, paynanthine, and speciogynine - the first two of which appear to be unique to this species. The two oxindoles are mitraphylline and speciofoline. Other alkaloids present include other indoles, and oxindoles such as ajmalicine, corynanthedine, mitraversine, rhychophylline, and stipulatine.
               
Mitragynine is the dominant alkaloid in the plant. It was first isolated in 1907 by D. Hooper, a process repeated in 1921 by E. Field who gave the alkaloid its name. Its structure was first fully determined in 1964 by D. Zacharias, R. Rosenstein and E. Jeffrey. It is structurally related to both the yohimbe alkaloids and voacangine. It is more distantly related to other tryptamine-based psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin or LSD. Chemically, mitragynine is 9-methoxy-corynantheidine. Physically the compound is a white, amorphous powder with a melting point of 102-106 degrees and a boiling point of 230-240 degrees. It is soluble in alcohol, chloroform and acetic acid. The hydrochloride salt has a melting point of 243 degrees.
          
The alkaloid content of the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa is about 0.5%, about half of which is mitragynine. An average leaf weighs about 1.7 grams fresh or 0.43 grams dried. Twenty leaves contain approximately 17mg of mitragynine. All leaves appear to contain mitragynine, speciogynine, paynanthine, and small quantities of speciociliatine. Oxindole alkaloids usually occur only in small or trace amounts.  

Medicinal Uses: The leaves of kratom have been used as an herbal drug from time immemorial by peoples of Southeast Asia. It is used as a stimulant (at low doses), sedative (at high doses), recreational drug, pain killer, medicine for diarrhea, and treatment for opiate addiction.
            
Inspired by traditional use, H. Ridley reported in 1897 that the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa were a cure for opium addiction. In more recent times, mitragynine has been used in New Zealand for methadone addiction detox. Kratom was smoked whenever the patient experienced withdrawal symptoms, over a 6 week treatment period. Patients reported a visualization effect taking place at night in the form of vivid hypnagogic dreams. While working on plans for ibogaine experiments in the USA, Cures Not Wars activist Dana Beal suggested that mitragynine could be used as an active placebo for comparison in the study. Acting Deputy Director of the NIDA Charles Grudzinskas rejected the proposal, however, saying that even less was known about mitragynine than ibogaine.
       
Although chemically similar, ibogaine and mitragynine work by different pathways, and have different applications in treatment of narcotic addiction. While ibogaine is intended as a one time treatment to cure addiction, mitragynine used to gradual wean the user off narcotics. The fact that mitragynine's mu crossover is increased by the presence of opiate drugs may be exploitable in the treatment of narcotics addiction, because it directs binding to where it is needed, automatically regulating the attachment ratio and modulating it towards the delta receptors over a short time. Within a few days, the addict would stop use of the narcotic they are addicted to, and the cravings and withdrawal will be moderated by the binding of mitragynine to the delta receptors. Mitragynine could also perhaps be used as a maintenance drug for addicts not wishing to quit but trying to moderate an out of hand addiction.
           
In 1999, Pennapa Sapcharoen, director of the National Institute of Thai Traditional Medicine in Bangkok said that kratom could be prescribed both to opiate addicts and to patients suffering from depression, but stressed that further research is needed. Chulalongkorn University chemists have isolated mitragynine which researchers can obtain for study.
            
In Thailand, kratom leaves are often chewed fresh (usually after removing the stringy central vein). Dried leaves can also be chewed, but since they are a bit tough, most people prefer to crush them up or powder them so that they can be swallowed. Powdered kratom can be mixed with fruit juice or apple sauce. This partially masks the taste and allows it to be quickly swallowed. Dried kratom leaves are often made into a tea that is strained and then drunk.. Kratom can be smoked, but doing so has no advantage over chewing or making a tea from it. The amount of leaf that constitutes a typical dose is too much to be smoked easily. A paste-like extract can be prepared by lengthy boiling of fresh or dried leaves. This can be stored for later use. Small pellets of this extract can be swallowed, or it can be dissolved in hot water and consumed as a tea. Some people like to mix kratom tea with ordinary black tea, or other herbal teas, before it is consumed. This is done to make it more palatable. Sugar or honey can be added to sweeten it.
               
To make the tea: Take 50 grams of dried, crushed kratom leaves and put into a pot. To this add 1 liter of water.  Boil gently for 15 minutes. Pour the tea through a strainer into a bowl and reserve the liquid. (squeeze the leaves in the strainer to get most of the liquid out).  Put the leaves back in the pot and add another liter of fresh water. Repeat steps 2 and 3. (After the leaves have been strained a second time, they can be discarded.)  Put the combined liquid from both boilings back into the pot and boil until the volume is reduced to about 100 ml.  The idea is to boil the tea down to a small volume so that each individual dose can be quickly swallowed.  It can be boil it down to whatever concentration you are comfortable with. Be careful near the end of the process. If it starts to become syrupy, it may spatter and/or burn.)  The tea is bitter tasting. To minimize the unpleasant taste, gulp it down quickly and then immediately chase it with some pleasant-tasting fruit juice. This recipe makes enough tea for 8 to 16 mild doses, 4 medium-strength doses, or two moderately strong doses:  Kratom tea can be safely stored in the refrigerator for about five days. It is probably okay to keep it a bit longer, but it's better to play it safe and not drink it after five days. It can be stored for many months if you add some alcohol to it. Adding about 10% alcohol will preserve it for many months (in the refrigerator). That is one part 80 proof liquor (vodka, rum, or a similar spirit) to three parts kratom tea.
               
At this dosage you will be less sensitive to physical or emotional pain, feel and look calm, have a general feeling of comfortable pleasure, and may enter a pleasant dreamy reverie. You may experience some itching or sweating. Your pupils may be constricted (small). It is possible you may feel nauseated, but if you lie down and relax the nausea should quickly cease. You may find your appreciation of music is increased. It will be very pleasant to lie down on your back in a semi-darkened room, with eyes closed, and just listen to your favorite music. If you do this you may be fortunate enough to enter the delightful mixed-state of ‘waking-dreaming’ where you have one foot in dreamland and the other foot in the real world. This state was much prized by the 19th century Romantic writers, who, lacking knowledge of kratom, resorted to the much more habit-forming narcotic, opium, to achieve it. The effects of kratom usually last about six hours. The higher the dose, the stronger the effects, and the longer they last. Many people report a positive ‘afterglow’ the next day.
             
When taken as a tea, Kratom effects can be noticed in about 20 minutes. Generally, a feeling of stimulation and relaxation is noted, as well as a growing feeling of euphoria. Many become more sociable, and want to engage in conversation. In time, the stimulation fades and a strong sedation is noticed. This narcotic effect can be overpowering, and many will lay down and try to sleep. This can result in the waking dream state often times achieved by opiates. These effects can, in all, last between 2 to 5 hours. Extracts tend to take longer to take effect if they are eaten, but the effects can be noticed for a longer period of time.
          
Leaves can also be made into a crude resin extraction. This resin extract is made by preparing a water extract of the leaves, boiling it down, and then shaping it into small ball.
          While new users may only need 5-10 grams of leaves to obtain the desired effects, some users find with time they need to increase doses, up to 50 grams leaves per day for a strong effect. It is best to take the leaves on an empty stomach. 
       
One of the side effects of Kratom consumption is constipation and this is made use of in folk medicine to treat diarrhea. The fresh leaves are pounded and applied directly to wounds. The poultice of the leaves is applied to the upper part of the abdomen to expel worms in children. 

Dosage: 2-6 grams = mild effects (typically the effects are stimulant-like)
7-15 grams = medium strength effects (the effects can be stimulant-like or sedative-euphoric-analgesic)

16-25 grams = strong effects (sedative-euphoric-analgesic effects; too strong for highly sensitive people)

26-50 grams = very strong effects (sedative-euphoric-analgesic effects  

Toxicity: The plant has not been clinically studied in humans. However, there are reports of acute side effects including dry mouth, increased urination, loss of appetite, and constipation. It does not appear to cause nausea or vomiting. Heavy use can be associated with prolonged sleep. Chronic side effects include anorexia and weight loss, insomnia, and a darkening of the skin, particularly on the cheeks, giving an appearance similar to a hepatic face. Among addicts, 30% report limited sexual desire and the need to use a combination of M. speciosa and alcohol to become sexually stimulated. Addiction seems to be a possibility if high doses are used. Some withdrawal symptoms reported by addicts include hostility, aggression, wet nose, inability to work, flow of tears, muscle and bone aches, and jerky limb movement.
            
When kratom is taken by itself (without mixing it with other drugs), the greatest risk is falling asleep while engaged in hazardous activities. Never drive while under the influence of kratom, even if you feel stimulated, rather than sleepy, for sleepiness may come on you without warning.
            
Since there have been no studies of the risks of kratom use by pregnant women, it is not known whether it could cause birth defects or fetal death.
             
Health problems are unlikely unless one is consuming large quantities of kratom every day. In Thailand, where there are some people who use kratom every day, those dependent on it can develop weight loss, dark pigmentation of the face, and have physical withdrawal symptoms if they quit abruptly. The withdrawal symptoms may include muscle aches, irritability, crying, runny nose, diarrhea, and muscle jerking. Health problems are unlikely to occur in occasional kratom users. Like any drug or medicine, people's reactions vary and some people could possibly have an allergic or other unusual reaction to kratom, even if they used it responsibly.
                 
Kratom should not be combined with large amounts of alcohol, with benzodiazepines, opiates, or any other drugs that depress the nervous system. This is because of the possibility that such combinations might cause over-sedation or even possible respiratory depression (not breathing).  It is also not recommended that kratom not be combined with any MAO inhibitor drug. Serious, even fatal, reactions can occur if MAO inhibitor drugs are combined with monoamine drugs. The combination of MAO inhibitor drugs with kratom, which contains monoamine alkaloids, has not been studied.  

HERBALPEDIA™ is brought to you by Herbalpedia LLC, PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245; 717-393-3295; FAX: 717-393-9261; email: herbworld@aol.com    URL: http://www.herbalpedia.com Editor: Maureen Rogers.  Copyright 2014.  All rights reserved.   Material herein is derived from journals, textbooks, etc. THGMN cannot be held responsible for the validity of the information contained in any reference noted herein, for the misuse of information or any adverse effects by use of any stated material presented.

 


 


 

 

 

 

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