If you came across Kratom through word of mouth, you may well know how well the stuff works, but not really know anything about Kratom itself. However, the future of Kratom depends on educating the public. As an aficionado, you really should know some basic facts about the botanical so that you can spread the word and show naysayers and doubters that you’ve done your research and really know what you are talking about.
The problem is, when you actually start to research the subject it can all seem really daunting – the internet is full of information on Kratom and a lot of it is conflicting, which can leave you feeling confused and more than a little overwhelmed.
In the interests of saving your sanity and keeping it real, we have put together this article which contains the basic information you will need to know; not only to educate yourself about what you are actually using, but also to spread the word to the world at large.
So Where Does Kratom Actually Come From?
It’s as good a place as any to start. So, Kratom’s Latin name is Mitragyna speciosa, and it’s as exotic as it sounds. It’s not a new tree – and yes, it is a tree, which we will come to in a moment. As we said, Mitragyna speciosa is a tree that has been growing for literally thousands of years. Related to the coffee tree, Kratom grows prolifically in Southeast Asian countries, where it thrives in the humid conditions.
In particular, the countries where it is most often harvested include:
- Papua New Guinea
These names will crop up when you are looking to purchase Kratom, as many strains are named after the country it originated from.
Used for hundreds of years by local farmers as a way to get them through long, arduous days, Kratom was also brewed into a tea and used in ritualistic ceremonies.
So How Did the West Get Hold of it?
First identified in 1839 by Dutch botanist Pieter Korthals, Kratom was nevertheless not formally classified for another 20 years by George Darby Haviland, a British surgeon and naturalist.
Have you ever wondered where your fine green powder actually originated? In its natural form, Kratom is a leaf which grows on large trees that often reach around 50 feet high. In optimum growing conditions, however, they can grow even taller, to around 80 feet.
Typically tropical in appearance, the leaves of the Kratom tree are large with a waxy appearance, and come to a point at the tip. It is this shape that gave it its name of Mitragyna because it is said – along with its stigma – to resemble a bishop’s mitre.
The leaves of the tree will also bear different colored veins which change depending on how soon they are harvested.
The bark of the Kratom tree is relatively smooth.
The Chemical Composition
This sounds a lot more complicated than it is, so bear with us. Each strain of Kratom has a different chemical composition which depends on the conditions in which it was grown. But the name of the strain – for example Borneo Red – may not indicate that the leaf was grown in Borneo, but that the seeds originated there instead.
While this might sound confusing, it is for a good reason: the growing and processing of Kratom is illegal in many places, so the seeds might come from one place, but will actually be grown in another where the laws are not so stringent.
So What Makes it ‘Work’?
Browse any Kratom store or article and you will probably see two main alkaloids mentioned – mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. While Kratom actually contains in excess of 40 active alkaloids, these two are the most researched.
That said, that research is still fairly scant. However, what we do know is that these compounds temporarily interact with receptors in the body, which gives users the effects that the product is known for.
As more research is done, more will be known, but as it stands Kratom is already a hugely exciting substance.
Kratom’s Legal Status and What is Being Done to Help
The laws in the US and around the world are confusing when it comes to Kratom, which is why you are advised to check the status where you live or where you’re travelling to. Even in countries where it is legal, certain authorities continue their crusade against the industry by circulating misinformation.
This is one of the reasons – besides personal growth – that it is essential that fans of Kratom learn all they can so that they can spread the word. The AKA (American Kratom Association) works tirelessly to educate and advocate, but the more people who know the facts, the better it will be for the industry and, of course, the user.
The AKA’s work is vital; it is because of them that a Good Manufacturing Practices Standards program even exists in the industry. This program ensures that vendors adhere to a strict protocol and only sell high quality products to customers like you. By educating yourself on some basic facts, you are doing your bit to help an industry that has done so much good for so many people, so continue to read up as much as you can (we have loads of articles for you to start with) and spread the word to those who need to listen.