What is Kratom?

Wondering what kratom actually is? This miraculous, yet controversial plant product is becoming more and more popular all over the world. In the following article, we will explore its origins, effects on the human body, potential medical uses, as well as the controversy surrounding its legal status. Join us on a journey to understand kratom, its benefits and risks.

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What is kratom anyway?

Kratom, scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree indigenous to Southeast Asia, particularly found in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. The plant belongs to the Rubiaceae family, which also includes coffee and gardenia plants. Kratom leaves have been used for centuries by indigenous peoples for their psychoactive properties. These leaves are most often converted into powders and similar forms.

Traditionally, kratom has served multiple purposes; it was utilized as a stimulant by workers in its native regions to combat fatigue and increase productivity, as an analgesic to relieve pain, and as an adjunct in traditional medicine for treating various ailments. 

The active ingredients in kratom leaves include alkaloids such as mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which are primarily responsible for its psychoactive and therapeutic effects. These compounds interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing stimulation, sedation, and pain relief depending on the dose consumed. The dual nature of kratom's effects, coupled with its traditional usage, sets the stage for its complex relationship with global users and regulators alike.


Diverse forms, strains, and benefits

Kratom is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, particularly in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. It belongs to the Rubiaceae family, which also includes coffee plants. Kratom has been traditionally used for centuries for its stimulant and pain-relieving properties. In recent years, it has gained popularity worldwide for its potential medicinal and recreational uses.

Here are some common forms of kratom along with their benefits and characteristics, which you can also find on our site:

  • Powder:

    • Kratom powder is one of the most popular forms of kratom. It is made by grinding dried kratom leaves into a fine powder.
    • Benefits: Kratom powder is versatile and can be easily mixed into beverages such as tea or smoothies. It offers a convenient way to consume kratom.
  • Capsules:

    • Kratom capsules contain pre-measured doses of kratom powder enclosed in gelatin or vegetarian capsules.
    • Benefits: Capsules provide a convenient and discreet way to consume kratom. They are suitable for those who dislike the taste of kratom or prefer precise dosage control.
  • Tablets:

    • Kratom tablets are compressed forms of kratom powder into tablet form.
    • Benefits: Similar to capsules, tablets offer convenience and precise dosing. They are easy to carry and consume on-the-go.
  • Edibles:

    • Kratom edibles refer to any food products infused with kratom extract or powder, such as candies, chocolates, or energy bars.
    • Benefits: Edibles offer an alternative way to consume kratom for those who prefer a more enjoyable and discreet method. They mask the taste of kratom and can be more palatable for some users.
  • Fruit:

    • Fruit kratom refers to kratom extracts or powders infused with fruit flavors, so it is not exactly a unique form.
    • Benefits: Fruit kratom can enhance the taste of kratom for those who find its natural flavor unpleasant. It adds a refreshing twist to kratom consumption.

Here are some common strains of kratom (divided by leaf vein colour, not by specific substrains) along with their benefits and characteristics, which you can also find on our site:

  • Green:

    • Green kratom strains are harvested from kratom leaves with green veins.
    • Benefits: Green kratom is known for its balanced effects, offering a combination of stimulation, mood enhancement, and mild pain relief. It is suitable for beginners and those seeking a middle-ground experience.
  • Red:

    • Red kratom strains are derived from kratom leaves with red veins.
    • Benefits: Red kratom is prized for its potent analgesic and sedative effects. It is commonly used for pain management, relaxation, and sleep enhancement.
  • White:

    • White kratom strains come from kratom leaves with white veins.
    • Benefits: White kratom is renowned for its energizing and mood-lifting properties. It is favored by those seeking increased focus, productivity, and motivation.

It's important to note that the effects of kratom can vary depending on factors such as the strain, dosage, individual tolerance, and biochemistry. Additionally, kratom may have potential side effects and risks, including dependence, tolerance, and adverse reactions. Therefore, it's advisable to use kratom responsibly and consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating it into your routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Why do people use kratom?

People buy kratom and use it for a variety of reasons, reflecting its complex pharmacology and the diverse effects it can produce. The primary motivations for kratom use include pain relief, mood enhancement, energy boosting, and aid in opioid withdrawal and addiction recovery.

For pain management, individuals often turn to kratom as a natural alternative to prescription opioids, especially those with chronic conditions seeking relief without the risk of opioid addiction. Kratom's analgesic properties can provide significant pain relief while minimizing the potential for dependence and side effects associated with conventional pain medications.

Mood enhancement and energy boosting are other common reasons for kratom use. Its stimulant effects at low doses can increase alertness, energy, and sociability, making it attractive to those needing to combat fatigue or enhance productivity. Additionally, kratom is used for its sedative effects at higher doses, which can help with anxiety and insomnia.

Kratom is also sought after for its potential to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms, offering a less severe withdrawal process. Individuals attempting to overcome opioid addiction may use kratom to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, viewing it as a step toward recovery.

Understanding these diverse motivations provides insight into kratom's appeal and the challenges in regulating its use. 

What is the scope of kratom use in Europe?

The scope of kratom use in Europe is growing, reflecting a broader trend of increasing interest in alternative and herbal supplements. However, the prevalence of kratom use varies across European countries, influenced by legal status, cultural acceptance, and awareness of the substance. 

In some European countries, kratom is legal and available, leading to its use for self-medication, recreational purposes, and as an alternative to traditional opioids for pain management and addiction treatment.

Legal status plays a significant role in the accessibility and use of kratom. While it remains legal in several European countries, others have imposed restrictions or outright bans, citing concerns over potential health risks and abuse. This legal variability affects the availability of kratom, influencing both consumer access and research opportunities. Public health perspectives on kratom in Europe are mixed, with ongoing debates about its benefits versus its risks. Some advocate for its potential as a harm reduction tool for individuals with opioid dependency, while others call for more stringent regulation due to concerns about addiction and other health risks.

Despite these challenges, the use of kratom in Europe is part of a larger conversation about drug policy, harm reduction, and the search for effective treatments for pain and addiction. As awareness grows, so does the demand for research to inform policy and practice. Next, we will discuss common abuse patterns associated with kratom.

Revealing its multifaceted effect on the human body

Kratom's impact on the human body is primarily through its interaction with the opioid receptors in the brain, although its effect is somewhat distinct from traditional opioids. 

The main active compounds, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, act as partial agonists at the mu-opioid receptors, which are responsible for pain relief, and as antagonists at the kappa- and delta-opioid receptors, which can help modulate mood and anxiety.

At lower doses, kratom has stimulant effects, leading to increased energy, alertness, and sociability. This is attributed to its interaction with serotonin and norepinephrine receptors, which are linked to mood and energy levels. However, at higher doses, kratom exhibits sedative effects, producing pain relief and euphoria similar to opioids, albeit with a lower risk of respiratory depression, a common and dangerous side effect of traditional opioids.

The complexity of kratom's pharmacological profile is further highlighted by its effects on other neurotransmitter systems, including adrenergic and dopaminergic pathways, contributing to its diverse range of effects. This multifaceted interaction with the body's systems explains the varied experiences of users, from stimulation to sedation, and underscores the need for further research to fully understand its mechanisms of action.

Wie schmeckt Kratom am besten

Kratom's addictive potential and withdrawal symptoms

Let's take a look at kratom's addictive potential and withdrawal symptoms as this plant is often discussed in the context of addiction and alternative treatments. Kratom engages with the same receptors in the brain that opioids do, but it's not as simple as labeling it good or bad. It's thought that kratom might lead to a less intense addiction compared to traditional opioids, offering a bit of hope for those seeking alternatives. Yet, it's critical to remember that regular use can still lead to dependence, though the symptoms might be milder.

When it comes to quitting kratom, the withdrawal symptoms are there, but they're usually more manageable - think muscle aches and irritability rather than an overwhelming crisis. It's uncomfortable, for sure, but not as severe as what you might expect from quitting more potent opioids.

The conversation around kratom really heats up when we talk about its alkaloid content - the chemicals within the plant that affect our bodies. It's this makeup that could influence how difficult it is to stop using kratom and why we need more research to truly understand its benefits and risks. By focusing on this research, we're not just looking at kratom as a plant but as a potential tool for better health and well-being, albeit one that must be used responsibly.

How are withdrawal and substance use disorder symptoms related to kratom use treated?

Given that kratom withdrawal and related conditions are complex, a multifaceted approach is indispensable, one that takes full advantage of time-honored methods used for the discontinuance of opioids and other habit-forming substances. 

With the strain-to-strain variability of kratom and the lack of an extensive research base, a customized approach is indeed warranted, targeting unburdening symptoms and addressing the underlying reasons for kratom use.

An initial phase of medical detoxification is often recommended. During this initial period, healthcare personnel combine medications and supportive care to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. This may include standard analgesics for myalgias, anti-diarrheal medications, and agents to decrease anxiety and sleep disturbances. A prolonged trial of pharmacotherapy may be warranted for those with both a current dependence on kratom and complex mental health issues.

The importance of behavioral treatments should not be underestimated. This includes in particular cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI), modalities that focus on the cognitive aspects of addiction and give patients insight into substance use triggers, coping mechanisms and development of a suitable network to help them in their recovery.

The notable absence of standardized kratom treatment protocols underscores the pressing need for more research to bring to light its individual addictive profile and to help establish specific treatments. In the interim, the plan of attack is personalized care that combines medical support and psychological reinforcement, intended to meet the various needs of those battling kratom dependence.

Potential use of kratom as medicine

Kratom's journey towards medical recognition is filled with fascinating research and spirited discussions. At its core, kratom harbors mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, intriguing compounds that offer a dual spectrum of effects—stimulant at low doses and sedative at higher ones. This versatility hints at kratom's potential to tackle a variety of ailments, from chronic pain and opioid withdrawal to mood disorders, showcasing a promising horizon for those seeking alternatives to traditional treatments.

Early investigations into kratom shine a hopeful light on its capability as a safer, potentially less addictive option compared to conventional opioids, especially in the realms of pain management and addiction recovery. 

The herb's unique property of offering pain relief without the significant risk of respiratory depression associated with many opioids positions it as an area ripe for further exploration. Additionally, its historical use in Southeast Asian traditional medicine for easing depression and anxiety symptoms underscores its potential mental health benefits.

Despite its promise, the road to widespread acceptance and clinical use of kratom is hindered by challenges such as inconsistent product quality and regulatory uncertainties. Through rigorous clinical trials and the development of comprehensive regulatory guidelines, kratom's full therapeutic potential can be meticulously evaluated, paving the way for its potential endorsement as a valuable medical resource.

Common abuse

Kratom abuse often involves consuming the substance in higher doses than traditionally used or recommended, seeking intensified effects such as euphoria, sedation, or significantly enhanced mood. This pattern of use can lead to dependence, where individuals consume kratom to avoid withdrawal symptoms rather than for its therapeutic effects or traditional uses. 

The ease of access through online vendors and head shops, combined with a lack of regulation, contributes to the potential for abuse. As kratom's popularity grows, so does the concern over its misuse, especially among individuals with a history of substance use disorders, highlighting the need for awareness and caution.

Key takeaways

Kratom is a plant that raises many questions and controversies. Based on what you may have read in this extensive article from our experts, it is clear that people use kratom for a variety of reasons - from pain relief, to mood enhancement, to helping with opiate withdrawal. Kratom holds promising possibilities for medicinal applications, presenting an opportunity to explore its benefits with informed caution due to its addiction potential and health impacts. As legal frameworks evolve and research progresses, it's crucial for users to stay educated on its effects and responsible use. Kratom exemplifies the intriguing journey of a plant with a rich history, poised for broader acknowledgment of its advantages and the considerations it entails.


Dominik, Kratomit