What is Kratom?
Kratom is a tropical tree in Southeast Asia. Its leaves have been used for hundreds of years to relieve pain. They can be eaten raw, but more often they’re crushed and brewed as tea or turned into capsules, tablets, and liquids.
In low doses, kratom acts as a stimulant. In large amounts, it acts as a sedative, and the DEA says it can lead to psychotic symptoms and psychological addiction. According to the CDC, about 42% of cases of kratom use reported between 2010 and 2015 involved non-life-threatening symptoms that required some treatment. About 7% of exposures were classified as major and life-threatening. The DEA says it knows of 15 kratom-related deaths between 2014 and 2016.
Kratom has been on the DEA’s list of drugs and chemicals of concern for several years. But the DEA notes that its use appears to be going up. Law enforcement agencies across the country seized more kratom in the first half of 2016 than ever before. U.S. poison control centers received 263 calls about kratom in 2015, a tenfold increase from 2010, the CDC says.
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 easily. 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, milk, or kefir. Chocolate milk works especially well for masking the taste. Powdered kratom can also be made into a paste that can easily be swallowed with water. 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.
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, one feels more motivated to get things done, ability to do hard, monotonous physical work may be improved, there is an elevation of mood (it has an antidepressant effect), one is more talkative, friendly, and sociable. The stimulant effects of kratom are different from typical CNS stimulants, such as caffeine or amphetamine drugs. Kratom is more of a cognitive stimulant tnan a physical stimulant.
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 subside.
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 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.