What is kratom?
Kratom is a tree native to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Borneo, etc.). Its botanical name is Mitragyna speciosa. Kratom is in the same family as the coffee tree (Rubiaceae). The leaves of kratom have been used as an herbal drug from time immemorial by peoples of Southeast Asia. It is used in folk medicine as a stimulant (at low doses), sedative (at high doses), recreational drug, pain killer, medicine for diarrhea, and treatment for opiate addiction.
How is it taken?
In its native region, 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 water and then drunk. This method is quick and easy. It can also be mixed with other liquids, such as fruit juice or milk. Chocolate milk reportedly works well for masking the taste. Powdered kratom can also be made into a paste that can easily be swallowed with water (this is one of the authors’ preferred methods). The powder can also be mixed with applesauce or yogurt. It can also be put into capsules. Dried kratom leaves are often made into a tea that is strained and then drunk. Kratom can be smoked, but doing so is impractical because the amount of leaf that constitutes a typical dose is too much to be smoked easily. A resin-like extract can be prepared by evaporating the water from kratom tea. 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.
How does one prepare a powdered kratom PASTE for drinking?
1.) Place a single dose of powdered kratom in a small empty cup.
2.) Add just enough water to make a soft paste (roughly equal parts kratom powder to water, by volume). You will need to stir the mixture for a few minutes until the powder completely absorbs the water and you have a nicely homogenized paste.
3.) Fill a separate glass with water and set it aside. Using a spoon, scoop an easy-to-swallow spoonful of paste into your mouth, then take a big sip of water from the other glass and gulp it down. Repeat spooning, sipping, and swallowing until you have consumed the entire dose. Be careful not to gulp down too much at once, so you don’t accidentally choke on the mixture.
How does one prepare a powdered kratom SLURRY for drinking?
1.) Add powdered kratom to a glass of water (or other beverage). For a typical dose of kratom (about 7 grams), use about 1 cup (8 ounces) of water.
2.) Stir throughly (until the powder is completely suspended), then gulp it down quickly before it has a chance to settle (it is like drinking a bitter-tasting, slightly fibrous smoothy).
3.) Add more water to the glass to recover any material that stuck to the sides. About 1/2 cup of water should be sufficient, but it doesn’t hurt to use more.
4.) Stir again and drink.
5.) When you have got it all down, you can drink a little fruit juice to chase away the bitter taste.
How does one make kratom tea?
Following is a basic recipe for making kratom tea. This recipe makes enough tea for several doses–about 8 moderately strong doses, if using “premium quality” kratom (see “dosage guidelines” below):
1.) Take 2 ounces (56 grams) of dried, crushed kratom leaves and put into a pot. To this add 1 quart (about 1 liter) of water.
2.) Boil gently for 15 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 1 cup (250 ml).
(The idea is to boil the tea down to a small volume so that each individual dose can be quickly swallowed.
You can 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.
The same general preparation method can of course be used with larger or smaller amounts of herb by simply adjusting the volume of water used. 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. When refrigerated, some components may precipitate out of solution and form a sediment in the bottom of the container. This sediment may contain active alkaloids so it should be redissolved before consuming the tea. This is easily done by warming the tea and stirring.
What are the effects?
Kratom is a rather unique drug in that a low to moderate dose will usually (but not always) be stimulating, while a high dose is almost always quite sedating. This is apparently because the active alkaloids have both stimulant and sedative effects. Which predominates probably depends both on dosage and individual differences between users. Many people report that the effects are very similar to opiate drugs. From a pharmacological perspective this is not surprising because kratom contains alkaloids that act as opiate receptor agonists. Interestingly, although kratom has a similar mechanism of action as many opiate pain medications it does not appear to be nearly as addictive. In fact many people use kratom to overcome opiate addiction.
The stimulant level: At the stimulant level the mind is more alert, physical energy and sometimes sexual energy is increased, ability to do hard monotonous physical work may be improved, one is more talkative, friendly, and sociable. Some people find this level edgy rather than pleasant.
The sedative-euphoric-analgesic level: 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.
What effects are associated with different doses? (dosage guidelines)
That depends on the potency of the kratom. The following dosage-guidline charts are typical for the kratom varieties offered by Sage Wisdom Botanicals,the sponsor of this page.
|Premium Quality Kratom
|Very Strong||12-25 grams|
|Very Strong||8-16 grams|
|Very Strong||5-8 grams|
Threshold = The effects are clearly apparent, but subtle.
Mild = Typically the effects are stimulant-like.
Moderate = The effects can be stimulant-like or sedative-euphoric-analgesic.
Strong = Sedative-euphoric-analgesic effects; too strong for highly sensitive people.
Very Strong = Sedative-euphoric-analgesic effects (TOO STRONG FOR MOST PEOPLE)
Caution:People vary in sensitivity to kratom, and kratom from different sources can vary in potency (sometimes quite a lot), so these dosage estimates should be regarded as loose approximations. One should always start with a low dose when experimenting with a new batch of kratom. One can then increase the dose gradually with subsequent experiments until one obtains the desired level of effects. DO NOT take a strong, or very strong dose, the first time you are sampling a new batch of kratom. Most people experience nausea when using very strong doses. Sensitive individuals may experience nausea at lower doses. For this reason, it is best to take kratom on an empty stomach when using strong doses (i.e. wait about 3 hours after eating). Some people are hypersensitive to kratom, and may experience adverse reactions (such as severe and prolonged vomiting) when using very strong doses.
What is duration of kratoms effects?
The effects of kratom usually last 5-6 hours. When taken on an empty stomach, the onset of effects is typically felt 30-40 minutes after ingestion. If there is much food in the stomach, it may take 60-90 minutes before it begins to take effect. When taken in capsules (gelatin or vegetarian), the onset of effects may be delayed a little because it takes time for the capsules to dissolve in the stomach.
What are the risks? How safe is it?
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. Use common sense. Do not use power tools or climb ladders while under the influence of kratom. Be careful not to leave a pot on a lit stove and then fall asleep.
Pregnant women should not take any drug or medication except on medical advice. 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. We strongly recommend that any woman who could possibly be pregnant NOT use kratom.
Is kratom an effective pain medication?
Many people report that kratom is an effective pain medication (analgesic). In fact, except for opium, kratom is probably the most effective herbal analgesic available.
Is kratom an effective treatment for opiate addiction?
One of the traditional uses of kratom in Thailand is as a treatment opiate addiction. Opiate addiction is a widespread problem. Not just for people who use opiate drugs illegally, but also for people who are prescribed opiate pain medications. Unfortunately, people who use opiate drugs daily often become addicted. Understandably, many people do not like being addicted to these drugs and are looking for ways to overcome their addiction. Many people report that kratom is effective for this purpose. Because it contains alkaloids that act as opiate receptor agonists it can be used as a substitute for opiate drugs, both as a pain medication and to avoid opiate withdrawals. After switching to kratom for a while, people say that they are able to reduce and then end their kratom use completely without suffering through difficult opiate withdrawal. This suggests that although it contains opiate receptor agonists, the pharmacology of kratom differs from opiate drugs in an important and potentially useful way. Before using kratom to overcome opiate addiction, it is obviously a good idea to discuss this with an open-minded physician.
Is kratom habit forming?
Kratom is not habit forming when it is used responsibly. If used occasionally as a recreational drug, rather than daily, there is virtually no risk of becoming dependent on it. But it is very important not to get into the habit of using it every day. For kratom, like many drugs [e.g. alcohol, coffee, tobacco, etc.] if used on a daily basis for a prolonged period of time, could become a habit hard to break. Before starting to experiment with it set yourself usage guidelines. If you ever find it is hard to stay within your usage guidelines immediately quit using kratom. Of course, people who are using kratom to overcome a preexisting opiate addiction may need to use kratom daily to avoid opiate withdrawal. People suffering from chronic pain may need to take pain medications on a daily basis, and some people choose to use kratom instead of pharmaceutical pain killers. Interestingly, studies have found that opiate drugs (morphine and its relatives) are rarely addictive for pain sufferers except among people with a history of substance abuse. This is probably also true for kratom, because like opiate drugs, the effects of kratom are due to opiate receptor agonist activity.
Is it possible to develop tolerance to kratom?
Yes. Like many drugs, if kratom is used on a daily basis one will eventually develop some tolerance to its effects and will gradually need to take increasingly larger doses to obtain the same level of effects. Tolerance does not develop when kratom is taken occasionally (no more than twice a week). Since the active constituents in kratom are opioid receptor agonists, there is likely to be cross-tolerance with other opioid drugs. This means that people who have developed tolerance to other opioid drugs will probably need to use higher doses of kratom than people who have not. Tolerance is not permanent. Normal sensitivity resumes after a few weeks of abstinence.
I have heard that tolerance can be avoided by taking different varieties of kratom on different days. Is that true?
No. Mixing up different kinds of kratom is not going reduce tolerance. All varieties of kratom contain the same active constituents, although their concentration varies with different batches.
I have heard that the potency and quality of kratom’s effects is correlated with the color of the central leaf vein. Is that true?
The color of the central leaf vein ranges from various shades of green to various shades of red. This is partly determined by genetics, but it also varies depending on how much sunlight the tree receives, and other environmental factors. The same tree can have leaves with pale green, dark green, and red veins. We have not seen any consistent connection between vein color and potency or type of effects. It appears that such correlations are mostly marketing hype invented by kratom merchants.
What are safe usage guidelines?
It is best to err on the side of caution. Therefore, we recommend that people not use Kratom more than once a week. Preferably, no more than once or twice a month. This will insure that Kratom does not become a habit. In other words, kratom should be reserved as a special, but OCCASIONAL treat. By using it infrequently, you will avoid habituation and get more pleasure from it.
Are there any reported health problems?
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.
Can kratom be combined safely with other substances?
In general, combining drugs can be risky. We recommend that kratom not be combined 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 (other than possible use with red poppy tea—see below), 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), We recommended that kratom not be combined with Syrian rue, Banesteriopsis caapi, or any other 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.
Certain combinations have been reported by users to be pleasant and supposedly safe. Kratom can certainly be combined with ordinary tea without risk. It has been used with a tea made from red poppy flowers (Papaver rhoeas), which itself has an extremely mild narcotic effect, and with a sedating-euphoriant tea made from ‘blue lotus’ (Nymphaea caerulea). It has been safely combined with SMALL quantities of alcohol, however large quantities of alcohol must be avoided. Some people report they like to smoke tobacco or cannabis while under the influence of kratom. But anyone smoking under the influence of kratom must be very careful not to nod off and drop lit smoking materials.
What is kratom’s legal status?
Kratom is illegal in Australia, Denmark, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), and Thailand (some of these countries impose sever penalties for possession of this herb). It is legal in most other countries, including the United States and most of Europe. Laws can and do change, so be sure that kratom is legal where you live before using it.
What are kratom’s active constituents?
There are many closely-related tryptamine alkaloids in kratom. The most important ones are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These are primarily responsible for kratom’s pain relieving, sedative, euphoric, and stimulating effects. These alkaloids resemble yohimbine in structure, but do not have the same effects.
Is kratom use detected on drug tests?
Although kratom does contain alkaloids that bind to opiate receptors, they are structurally unrelated to opiate drugs and therefore would not be detected by opiate drug tests. It is technically possible to detect the alkaloids in kratom in body fluids, but since kratom is a legal herbal drug (in most places), it is not normally tested for.
Where can kratom be purchased?
There are a number of online merchants who sell the dried leaves, extracts, or both. One of the authors of this guide offers high-quality kratom through his online herbal products company, Sage Wisdom Botanicals. Beware of misleading labels and marketing hype. It is important to find a trustworthy source. There have been problems with some vendors selling bogus “kratom” (misrepresenting other herbs as kratom) or adulterating kratom with other herbs.
Can kratom be cultivated?
Kratom plants are available from Sage Wisdom Botanicals. They can be grown as house plants (but will have to be cut back because they can grow quite large). They prefer a humid environment. They dislike cold weather and do 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. Potted plants should be lightly fertilized every few weeks, but only when actively growing. They can be propagated from cuttings.