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What is kratom?
Mitragyna Speciosa, also known as Kratom, is a large tree in the Rubiaceae family native to Southeast Asia in the Indochina and Malesia floristic regions. It was first documented by Pieter Korthals, a Dutch colonial botanist. The leaf of the tree contains mirtragynine and was traditionally used for its ethnobotanical and medicinal properties. The leaves of kratom have been used by the indigenous people as a stimulant in low doses, a sedative in large doses, an anti-diarrheal and pain killer. It is said that Kratom affects the human brain similarly to an opiate although there is no conclusive clinical data proving how the alkaloids works in relation to the human brain.
Kratom contains more than 25 alkaloids including mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These alkaloids act as mu-opioid receptor antagonist. The three most abundant indoles are mitragynine (9-methoxy-corynantheidine) which is responsible for 1/2 of the alkaloid content, paynanthine, and speciogynine. The two most abundant oxindoles are mitraphylline and speciofoline. Other alkaloids present include ajmalicine, corynanthedine, mitraversine, rhychophylline, and stipulatine. Mitragynine is believed, but has not been proven to be, the primary active alkaloid in Mitragyna Speciosa.
Is Kratom Legal?
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is uncontrolled in the United States with the exception of Indiana and Vermont . This means all parts of the plant and its extracts are legal to cultivate, buy, possess, and distribute (sell, trade or give) without a license or prescription. If sold as a supplement, sales must conform to U.S. supplement laws. If sold for consumption as a food or drug, sales are regulated by the FDA.
In 2012 Indiana banned the chemicals Mirtagynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, but the legal definition does not appear to cover the plant kratom. In 2012, Vermont issued a an emergency order to ban several new designer chemicals which included 7-hydroxymitragynine (one of the active alkaloids in kratom), effectively banning kratom in Vermont.
Laws change quite often and ignorance of the law does not excuse criminal conduct (Ignorantia juris non excusat)., so be sure that kratom is legal where you live before using it.
How safe is Kratom?
When taken by itself (not mixing it with other substances), the greatest risk when taking Kratom may be falling asleep while engaged in hazardous activities. Like any other substance that may be mind altering or affect your cognitive abilities, do not drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of Kratom. Always use common sense. Due to the lack of medical studies regarding the use of Kratom in relation to pregnancy, pregnant women should not take any drug or medication except at the medical advice from their physician. It is not known whether it could cause birth defects or fetal death. Once again, always use common sense regarding anything that you put in your body.
Is Kratom habit forming?
Although a small number of individuals have become dependent on Kratom (primarily in Thailand), Kratom is not habit forming when used in moderation and responsibly. When used in moderation, not daily, there is no documented risk of dependency. It is important not to get into the habit of using Kratom, or any supplement, on a daily basis. Like many stimulants [e.g. alcohol, coffee, tobacco, etc.], when used daily for a prolonged period of time, could become habit forming. You know your body better than any physician and must be diligent regarding self control. If you have a predisposition for addiction, you must treat everything with moderate behavior including the use of Kratom.
What are the effects of Kratom?
Kratom is quite unique, in that, in low to moderate doses will commonly be stimulating and in large doses has a more sedative effect. Often, the individual will experience an analgesic effect caused by the alkaloids contained in Kratom and the manner in which the brain receptors are affected. The level of effect, like any other supplement, depends on many factors including body weight, physiological makeup, tolerance level and so on.
As a stimulant, used in low to moderate doses, the individual will experience an analgesic effect along with physical energy, alertness, increased libido, euphoria, sociability, improved mindset or mood, focus and overall improved demeanor. In some cases when taken in large doses, an individual may experience edginess similar to being over-caffeinated.
An a sedative, used in higher doses, an individual will experience an analgesic effect along with euphoria, a lower sensitivity to pain, both physically and emotionally, relaxation, anti-depression and anti-anxiety. Used in excess, it may result in a prolonged sleep.
What are the active components of Kratom?
The important active alkaloids in Kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These alkaloids are responsible for pain relieving, sedative, euphoric, and stimulating effects.
Are there any reported health issues caused by Kratom?
There are very few reports regarding negative health effects due to Kratom and the circumstances reported were in conjunction with additional illegal substances combined, so there is no conclusive data showing Kratom as the cause for any negative effects. Health problems are unlikely unless one is consuming large quantities of Kratom every day. In Thailand, where many of the indigenous population use kratom daily, those dependent on it can develop weight loss and have physical withdrawal symptoms when quitting abruptly. If any, 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, moderation is the key and individual’s reactions may vary. It is uncommon, but an individual could possibly experience an allergic or other unusual reaction to Kratom, even if used responsibly. More commonly, when using an excessive amount, an individual’s body would simply reject the substance, thus as a natural physiological reaction, may experience emesis (Vomiting) as the body's way of preservation.
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What may save Kratom from those who wish to ban it is something every one of us can do. Share it with someone who is looking for something that Kratom can do.
We need to be selective, because pushing some strange herb on people who aren't looking -- who aren't frustrated with their current situation -- will cause them to put up their invisible mental barrier and "tune you out".
There are all kinds of opportunities in today's America, where -- if we are lucky enough to have a job, we are probably working harder than ever to make up for the layoffs done to keep our business competitive in what is honestly still a very tight economy. So, there are plenty of opportunities to casually share this amazing jungle energy tonic with co-workers who complain that they're tired or their back is hurting them.
Want to know where the biggest, largely untapped opportunity for sharing Kratom is hiding? It is in the many returning veterans of Irag and Afghanistan, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Read more: What May Save Kratom
A journey finding pain relief and other benefits from the leaves of the Kratom tree and my reasons for working to keep it legal.
By Susan Ash, MS
"I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees!" The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss reminds me of my former life as a professional, paid "tree-hugger," a never-ending source of amusement for my family and friends who'd watched me turn into a hippie (well, as close as I could get at age 16. From that book comes my motto; "UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." I used to speak for entire forests; large ecosystems our whole planet depends on. Now I speak for one tree that saved me, and for my right to purchase and consume it as I choose.
Born and raised in Virginia, I began my career 25 years ago as a Park Ranger in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. I'd received a Bachelor's of Science from Old Dominion University (ODU) and was already a budding environmentalist, having founded ODU's first environmental club. I spent three summers proudly wearing my "Smokey Bear" uniform, surrounded by the majestic beauty of a park owned by the American public. A life-long obsession with protecting public lands and natural resources was born, and I left Bryce (seen here, caught off guard behind the info. desk) in pursuit of a Master's of Science in Forestry from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Degree in hand, I went west to spend many years living my dream of getting paid to save the earth. This required frequent outdoor site visits to the forests and wildernesses I was trying to protect. It was the perfect job and it was, like the Lorax's, my life, too.
I moved to Oregon in 2000 to run wilderness, old growth forest and endangered species campaigns. I began experiencing a myriad of inexplicable health problems that ranged in severity and was diagnosed with "Fibromyalgia" and "treated" with narcotics. A lot of narcotics. And not only did they work, they gave me energy, decreased crippling anxiety, and made me happy. Every time I had a prescription filled, I felt like I'd hit the lottery. In 2008, plagued with too many symptoms to list, getting sicker and sicker, I became unable to care for myself. Heartbroken and devastated, home I went to live with my parents (after making sure my doctor sent me off with three months' worth of pills).
Read more: I Speak for the Trees!
Kratom has a determined adversary in the mother of one 20-year-old who killed himself in July. She prefers to believe that Kratom killed her son, rather than the three prescription pharmaceuticals that were also in his system that sad day. The young man had a several year struggle with addiction to opioid drugs and was in and out of rehab several times, though his mother never talks about that.
It is very strange to blame an herb that is helping people get off of opioid drugs, when the boy's toxicology report showed two of the three prescription drugs he had in his system have suicide warnings on them.
It also seems unusual that the herb that as many as 2,000,000 Americans use regularly, has killed no-one else among the many who use it daily.
My estimate is probably quite conservative. But, if Kratom -- besides being used for centuries in Southeast Asia for relieving depression and improving people's mood -- is likely to cause people here to kill themselves, where are the other victims?
Read more: Kratom's Tireless Accuser
Kratom is facing a lot of resistance to the acceptance of a better, less expensive, form of pain reliever, antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and herbal energy product. Progress never comes easily.Look at the 77+ years that various agencies have enjoyed huge budgets for finding and jailing harmless marijuana smokers, if you want proof of how much resistance there is to a new (actually ancient) herbal solution to many medical problems that have Big Pharma "stumped".Progress of all kinds forces people to find new sources of income and employment.The automobile put the horse-and-buggy out of service. Automobiles pushed out the streetcar. Trucking curtailed the use of the rail lines.Now kratom, a simple leaf of a tree, is hurting pain clinics, doctors, and ultimately even Big Pharma companies themselves are feeling the pain of losing sales of opioid drugs, suboxone, antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, etc.
Read more: Kratom Faces Resistance to Progress
Kratom: What to Take & How to Take It
Hundreds of new people are discovering kratom every day. Most are asking the same basic questions. This post was requested by a busy Admin, who wanted to have a place to send folks where they could get most of their questions about starting out on this wonderful and mysterious herb answered.
I won't claim to be the #1 World Expert on the subject of Kratom, but I love it, am fascinated by the variety of things it is doing for people, I've read many medical research papers, I've had a long history of using herbs and nutrition to maintain my health, and I love to write about the ways to achieve the health we are capable of achieving with kratom.
Susan Ash has also written a more concise guide for new users. It is called Kratom 101. I didn't read her version until after I wrote this. It is downloadable from the Facebook group "Kratom -- New and Current Users" It covers the same main points that I do here.
Download link: Kratom 101 Guide by Susan Ash
Kratom has a long history of safe use as a stimulant, relaxant, painkiller, mood-improver, fever-reducer, anti-hypertensive, cough medicine, de-wormer, diabetes folk remedy, and anti-leukemic with significant antioxidant power and God-knows-what-else.
Most of the research that has been done has been driven by the pharmaceutical industry's interest in only a few of its 27 or more alkaloids and chemical compounds. For some reason, even though some alkaloid analogs have been patented perhaps because of their unique analgesic strength and safety, but -- as of now 11-17-2014 -- none have been brought to market.
For those of us who love the whole herb's effects, this lack of a pharmaceutical copy is probably a blessing.
Read more: Kratom Basics for New Users
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