Kakuam; Ithang; Thom, kutum, biak, biak-biak
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
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.
Stimulant; Depressant; Intoxicant
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
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
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
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
chemists have isolated mitragynine which researchers can obtain for
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
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
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
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
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
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)
grams = medium strength effects (the effects can be stimulant-like
16-25 grams = strong effects
(sedative-euphoric-analgesic effects; too strong for highly
26-50 grams = very strong 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.
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