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Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa)

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What is Kratom?

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa)

Kratom is the common name for a plant that carries the scientific name: Mitragyna speciosa Korthals. It is a tree indigenous to Southeast Asia (Thailand, northern Malay Peninsula to Borneo); it is mostly grown in the central and southern regions of Thailand, and only rarely in the northern part.

The traditional use of this plant dates back many centuries and, of course, has its origins in Thailand. In recent times, kratom has become popular for recreational purposes, because of the pleasant effects the leaves of this plant can have. Outside Thailand, very little is known about kratom.


Kratom, and more specifically mitragynine, is known for its positive effects on one's mood. It stimulates the body and thus increases activity. Traditionally, kratom was mostly used as a stimulant by Thai peasants, labourers, and farmers who used the plant to overcome the burdens of their hard work and meagre existences. They did this mostly on a daily basis. When it was first used has not been determined, since it goes too far back.

In traditional medicine, the Thai people use kratom to treat diarrhoea. A small minority of users take it to prolong or intensify sexual intercourse.

However, the Thai government has banned the use of kratom and classed the plant as a drug in the same category as cocaine and heroin. Consequently, kratom has the dubious honour of being banned in the country it originated in and where it had been used traditionally for centuries.


The Mitragyna genus, part of the family Rubiaceae, is found in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia and Africa. Asian Mitragynas are often found in rainforests, while the African species (which are sometimes still classed in a separate genus, Hallea) are often found in swamps. Most species are arborescent, some reaching heights of almost 100 feet (30 meters). The genus was given its name by Korthals, because the stigmas in the first species he examined resembled the shape of a bishop's mitre. This genus is characterized by a globular flowering head, bearing up to 120 florets each.

Mitragyna speciosa itself can reach heights of 50 feet (15 meters) with a spread of over 15 feet (4,5 meters). 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 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; new growth is more plentiful during the rainy season.


More than 25 alkaloids have been isolated in Mitragyna speciosa. The three most abundant indoles are mitragynine (9-methoxy-corynantheidine) which is responsible for 1/2 of the alkaloid content, paynanthine, and speciogynine. The first two of these are believed to be unique to M. speciosa. The two most abundant oxindoles are mitraphylline and speciofoline. Other alkaloids present include ajmalicine, corynanthedine, mitraversine, rhychophylline, and stipulatine. Mitragynine is believed by many to be, but has not been proven to be, the primary active alkaloid in M. speciosa.

Kratom effects

The effects of kratom can be described as comparable to opium based-products, but milder. In general, the effects are stimulating and euphoric at a lower doses and are more calming and narcotic at higher doses. These effects are noticeable after 5 to 10 minutes and can last for several hours.

Kratom contains a number of active components, so-called alkaloids, of which mitragynine is believed to be responsible for most of its effects. Mitragynine is an opioid agonist, meaning that it has an affinity for the opioid receptors in your brain. These receptors influence one's mood and anxiety. Mitragynine binds to these receptors and improves your mood and gives you a euphoric-like feeling, just like opiates such as heroin and opium. The big difference between kratom and opiates is that mitragynine prefers so-called delta opioid receptors, while opiates bind to mu opioid receptors. At higher doses, mitragynine increasingly stimulates mu receptors. This is believed to be the reason that kratom has a stimulating effect at lower doses and narcotic effects at higher doses, and that it is not (strongly) addictive.

Nowadays most users describe the effects as stimulating and euphoric, for some it also has a relaxing and analgesic effect. People report feeling euphoric, but still energetic enough to function normally. Most sources say that it is a stimulant in lower doses, becoming sedative in higher doses.

Some people report that after using the plant they experience headaches and nausea, which usually ceases after a short while. There are some known possible negative effects to kratom use, especially after a longer period of regular consumption.

Medical use

In East Asia it is also often used as a substitute for opium when opium is unavailable, or to moderate opium addiction. Mitragynine is used to gradually wean the user off narcotics. 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.

More recently mitragynine has been used in New Zealand for methadone addiction detox. And 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.

It is widely known that kratom can have a positive effect on your mood and level of anxiety, but there have been no studies on the long-term use.


There are different types of kratom on the market: leaves, powder and resin. Resin and powder are usually stronger than leaves, but the strength of each product also depends on the age and quality of the plants it was made from. Some sites offer what is called 'commercial leaves;, meaning that these are a blend of leaves of different quality. These are quite good to make your own extract. You will also find selected, high quality leaves or powder (which is mainly just ground leaves). These are usually more expensive, but you will need less. It is difficult to say which is best.


The dosage depends very much on the strength of the kratom used. Usually 5-10 grams of dried leaves should be enough for inexperienced users. Lower the dose when using kratom powder, as it is usually stronger than plain leaves (3-5 grams). The same goes for resin. Kratom is not habit forming when used responsibly and not more than once or twice a month. However, regular users will feel the need to increase the dosage after some time.

Kratom leaves are usually 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 first. You have to chew well for quite some time. Most people drink warm water or tea after it.

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 (which is also sold as such in various shops) can be swallowed, or 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.

Making tea is probably the tastiest and most common way of using kratom. Following is a basic recipe found on the internet for making kratom tea:

  • 1) Take 50 grams of dried, crushed kratom leaves and put them in a pot. Add 1 liter of water.
  • 2) Boil gently for 15-20 minutes.
  • 3) 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).
  • 4) 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).
  • 5) Put the combined liquid from both boilings back into the pot and boil until the volume is reduced to about 100 ml.
  • Contraindications

    Health problems are unlikely to occur in occasional kratom users. Some users have reported minor nausea, increased urination and constipation as side-effects. 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.


    Health risks of kratom are small, unless you consume large quantities 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.

    Never use heavy machinery, drive or perform any other hazardous activity while under the influence of kratom. Even if you feel stimulated, rather than sleepy, sleepiness may come on you without warning. Use your common sense.

    Pregnant or breast-feeding women and children under 18 should not take any drug or medicationexcept on medical advice. We strongly advise that any woman who could possibly be pregnant NOT use kratom.


    Combining drugs is usually a bad idea. It is recommended that you do not combine kratom with yohimbine, cocaine, amphetamine-like drugs, or large doses of caffeine, because of the possibility of over-stimulation or increased blood pressure. We recommend that kratom 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 recommended that you do not use kratom in combination with MAO inhibitors, such as Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala), Banisteriopsis caapi, Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) and certain anti-depressants. 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

    Growing kratom

    Kratom prefers wet, humus-rich soils in a protected position. Being a heavy feeder, it requires very rich, fertile soil. It is drought sensitive, and if grown out of its native habitat, sensitive to frost. Propagation is by very fresh seed or cuttings. There is a low strike rate, due to a fungus which attacks xylem tissue.

    There is only little known about growing kratom. Seeds and cuttings are very hard to find. Kratom cuttings are considered somewhat difficult to grow, though the plants themselves, once established, are relatively hardy. Because of the difficulty in getting cuttings to root, many people are experimenting with cloning. Two of the primary difficulties with cuttings appear to be that they are either attacked by fungus or simply never put out roots.

    Suggestions for dealing with these problems include:

    • putting the cutting in water with an air bubbler to increase oxygen levels
    • using a small amount of fungicide in the water to ward of fungus growth
    • changing the water every day to reduce chances of fungus.

    It has been reported that the leaves of M. speciosa are at their most potent in late autumn, just before the leaves fall off. It has been noted that plants grown in cold climates are weaker.


    Kratom tea can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Kratom extract can be stored for a couple of weeks until use.

    Links / Further reading

    Lycaeum Kratom Pages

    The Kratom Users Guide

    Erowids Kratom Vault


    This article is based on:


  • salviakindaguy 05-08-2007 16:21:17

    Great info page.keep up the good work

  • 123goazarius 16-12-2007 19:28:01

    thankyou so much for all the great info. i can learn more from reading your encyclopedia for ten minutes than a whole day in college.

  • Eric 05-04-2008 20:27:34

    Kratom can be stored for several decades if kept in a cool,dry place out of light (and I have confirmed this w/the leading authority,Mr. Daniel Seibert in email btw,not just from his website).
    I myself have kept both extract and raw material for up to two years in storage(air-tight bottles & Mason jars so far w/absolutely NO loss of potency whatsoever.
    As a reg Kratom user I wish I could confirm just how llong of a shelf-life she has but so far,bsed on what I have read everywhere on the net,my chips are w/Daniel Siebert as noone ele has gven Kratom more than a year shelf life (odd as I have found differently so far)

  • Eric 05-04-2008 20:31:19

    P.S. - "Experienced disputes" toward this claim may be emailed to as I am always up for learning if there is anything to be learned.

  • someguy77892 02-02-2012 08:13:52

    I have been combining my much needed and legally prescribed amphetamine prescription with kratom for some time. I had been using kratom for years prior. I noticed the symptoms of dizziness and dehydration were a risk factor here, but since kratom has made me only relaxed for years I have no overstimulation. Other people may react differently. I drink from 1 gallon water jugs. The combo will make you super thirsty and therefore you will lose tons of vitamins. I also use anxiety medicine. No reaction has been noticed with kratom, but driving definetely could be a hazard depending on dosages and other factors. I don't recommend combining any of these medications with kratom, even if slowly working your way up from very small, small dosages over a period of time and observing effects to make sure that nothing is wrong.

  • @jantek 21-06-2012 08:47:43

    less than a month ago, my friend, who's a former substance abuser, recommended me kratom leave liquid for my hypertension which has been my tormentor in chief for the past 1 1/2 decades. The vendor said he had the leaves completely boiled i.e until te latex on the leaves has been sort of "neutralized". At the first I found the taste disgustingly bitter but subsequently I had no problem swallowing it.

    I consumed it over a 2 week period of about 1.5 litres. during that 2 weeks i thought it did good on my BP. It also has that feel good effect despite some mild giddiness. But one night, very recently, i transferred abt 100ml of the stuff from a plastic bottle to a metal flask & kept it in the fridge overnight. The next morning i took it with black coffee over breakfast. After half an hour I started to feel terrible..mild shortness of breath, chest pain & discomfort, nausea and general feeling of sickness, lasting for 7 hours. I also felt like I was having travel sickness. I had taken my last drop of kratom "juice". Now I feel sick whenever I think of that juice.

  • mom 13-09-2013 23:22:02

    17 year old son just received this Maeng Da Thai 100g in the mail - he doesn't know I've opened his mail - what could he be using this for ?

  • Berkeley Chemist 15-12-2013 13:08:48


    Please do not unnecessarily freak out. The reason why your son would be using it depends on the pharmacological profile of the particular strain or mixture.

    It could be for a boost, in place of a Red Bull (kratom would be much healther if used sporadicallyóand 100mg is hardly ANY).

    Or it could be for extreme stress, which I can kinda of imagine him being under, seeing as youíre snooping in your almost adult sonís mail. Thatís completely uncalled for and a total invasion of privacy. Clearly your son is being smart about it; he didnít buy 100s of grams. He bought a fraction of a fraction of tható100mg! Almost nothing at all.

    So yes, do not worry. Hand him the package saying its ok and then APOLOGIZE to him for opening HIS mail without HIS permission.

    Iím a Ph.D. chemist working in the organic chemistry department at UC Berkeley. My parents never snooped on my mail, and I was ordering far worse as a kid. Thereís NOTHING bad about itóitís totally legal here. He could go to a health store and get it and completely avoid the possibility of a snoop of a mother looking in on him.

    No, heís safe. Totally. I promise. Iím sorry if I came off a little rude, and I knowww I did, but I get really offended when I hear about parents disrespecting the privacy of their children like that. Mine NEVER did it to me, and I graduated with AGREGIA cum laude with my undergraduate degrees. I didnít simply ďdualĒ major. I got two different degrees with two separate, complete majors, each with their own individual minor: English and business.

    I did well and I did actually scheduled and illegal drugs. IímÖ well, pretty well off right now. I can do anything I want. I have an two agregia cum laude bachelors with a minor on each, an MBA, and a Ph.D. where I graduated at the top of my class by the time I was 24.

    If I can do ALLLLLL that while using heroin? Your son can do more relaxing and remaining stress-free from parental intrusion.

    I respect my parents deeply for the trust the held in me. I told them about my usage eventually. I quit on my own as well. Good luck. Donít ruin your relationship with your son over a completely 100% legal herb. (Itís also quite good when it comes to pain relief, even mixed with a simple NSAID).

  • Amber 02-05-2014 18:29:12

    I am looking for Keaton seeds or a cutting. Can anyone help me? **

    [ Azarius: Please don't post email adresses here, thanks. ]

  • Amber 02-05-2014 18:30:24

    Damn spell check! Kratom is what I meant.

  • susan 15-08-2014 20:52:24

    I started ordering kratom and I love it. The price is unbeatable and I never have a problem with my order. They give me the FedEx tracking number and I know exactly when it will arrive. :)

  • Jess 18-01-2015 16:23:11

    Does kratom test positive in a drug test, one that would be sent to a lab?

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