The Mitragyna speciosa tree’s leaves, more commonly known as kratom, offer a rich selection of beneficial alkaloids that can help us feel better both physically and mentally. And, while traditionally, this Southeast Asian medicine was consumed in raw powder form, the 21st century has made it easier than ever to experience its effects easily and intuitively. Kratom edibles offer a simple approach to dosing, while providing bioavailable forms like drinks, shots, and teas, that provide all of those positive effects quickly to the system.
The Calm Leaf carries a fantastic selection of kratom edibles made by trusted names in the industry, all of which have undergone extensive third-party testing, and contain only clean and gentle ingredients.
What is Kratom?
Kratom, scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. Its leaves have been used for centuries for their stimulant and analgesic properties.
What is the Pharmacology of Kratom?
The active compounds in kratom leaves are alkaloids, primarily Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These compounds interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing sedation, pleasure, and decreased pain, especially when users consume large amounts. But they don't belong to the opioid class of drugs. Their affinity and selectivity towards different opioid receptors (mu, delta, kappa) and the consequent downstream signaling vary from traditional opioids, contributing to the unique effects and side-effect profile of kratom.
How is Kratom Harvested?
Here's a general overview of how Kratom is typically harvested:
- Choosing the Right Leaves: Kratom's potency varies based on several factors, including the tree's environment and how the leaves are harvested and processed. Mature leaves are often more potent; hence, farmers look for older, more mature leaves, typically identified by their darker color. They also tend to pick leaves from trees in highly fertile and naturally rich soil, typically located in native growing areas where the climate and ground conditions are most favorable for the plant's growth.
- Harvesting Process: The process involves hand-picking the leaves from the kratom tree. Farmers climb up the larger trees, which can reach heights of over 50 feet, to carefully select and pluck the leaves by hand. This traditional method ensures that only the best quality leaves are chosen and that the tree is not damaged during the process, allowing for future harvesting. They are selective in this process, often only picking the most mature leaves, as these contain a higher concentration of the active alkaloids.
- Drying Process: After the leaves are collected, they undergo a drying process. The leaves might be spread out in a single layer in a controlled environment or sometimes placed outside under the sun for natural drying. Some farmers and harvesters use other methods, like drying the leaves indoors with no light, to achieve different vein colors and alkaloid content. The method and duration of the drying process can significantly affect the final product's potency and properties.
- Crushing/Grinding: Once the leaves are dry, they are either shipped as whole dried leaves or crushed into a more manageable product. In many cases, the dried leaves are ground into a fine powder, which can be easily packaged and used to create different kratom products.
- Quality Control and Packaging: Before packaging, quality control measures are often in place to ensure the product's safety and efficacy. This step might involve laboratory testing for alkaloid content, moisture, and other relevant factors. The final product is then packaged and sealed to maintain its freshness before distribution.
How is Kratom Typically Consumed?
Kratom leaves are traditionally chewed, brewed into tea, or crushed into a powder and ingested. It can also be found in capsules, beverages, or extracts.
What are the Different Strains of Kratom?
Different strains of kratom are distinguished based on the color of the veins in the leaves and where they are grown. The various strains are reported to have distinct effects, although scientific research on these differences is limited and more evidence is needed to substantiate the unique effects of each strain. Below are some of the common strains of kratom:
Red Vein Kratom:
- Red Bali: Known for its potent analgesic properties and relaxation effects, often used by individuals dealing with chronic pain or seeking relaxation.
- Red Thai: Similar to Red Bali but slightly more stimulating, yet less potent in its sedative effects.
- Red Maeng Da: Said to be a stronger strain, promoting pain relief and relaxation, often reported to have a longer-lasting effect.
White Vein Kratom:
- White Bali: Known for its stimulating properties and often used for increasing energy and focus, less so for pain.
- White Maeng Da: This is a potent strain often cited for its energizing effects and used to improve focus or combat fatigue.
- White Borneo: Similar to other white strains, it's known for boosting energy and alertness, often used to increase productivity.
Green Vein Kratom:
- Green Malay: Recognized for its mild energy-boosting properties, it's said to offer a balance between the effects of red and white strains, often used for pain relief, increased energy, and enhanced mood.
- Green Maeng Da: Reported to be a potent strain providing mild to moderate energy boost and pain relief.
- Green Borneo: It's known for its balance between sedation and stimulation, pain relief, and increased concentration.
Yellow Vein Kratom:
- Although not as common as the other strains, yellow vein kratom is said to undergo a different drying process, leading to enhanced effects. It's often described as offering a balance between the red and white strains, providing pain relief, relaxation, and a mild boost of energy.
What are Kratom’s Traditional Uses?
For centuries, kratom has been used to treat various ailments. Some indigenous people chew the leaves for their stimulant effects, to combat fatigue and increase productivity. It has also been used as a local remedy for pain, diarrhea, and cough.
What are the Effects of Kratom?
Kratom's effects can vary depending on the strain and dosage but may include pain relief (effectiveness can vary among individuals but should not be used as a replacement for prescribed pain medications without medical guidance), increased energy, improved mood, and relaxation – more research is needed for all this though. Higher doses can lead to sedation. On the other side of the spectrum, side effects of kratom may include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, constipation, and dizziness. More severe side effects can occur with high doses.
Is Kratom Legal?
The legal status of kratom varies by country and even by state within the United States. It is illegal in some places, while being legal or partially regulated in others.
Is Kratom Safe to Use?
Kratom can be safe when used responsibly and in moderation. However, there are potential risks, including addiction (especially when used regularly in high doses, as physical and psychological dependence can occur), dependency, and adverse reactions. It should be used cautiously and avoided by individuals with certain medical conditions.
Does Kratom Show Up on a Drug Test?
Standard drug tests, such as the SAMHSA-5, do not detect kratom. Kratom's primary alkaloids, Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, are structurally different from substances tested in typical drug panels, such as those for THC, opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, and PCP. Still, these are not commonly used unless there's a specific reason to test for kratom. For instance, in some occupational settings or legal scenarios where kratom use might be suspected or relevant, these tests might be administered. Also, while rare, there have been anecdotal reports of kratom use leading to false positives for certain substances, particularly opioids. However, false positives can be clarified with a confirmation test, like GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry).
What is the Recommended Kratom Dosage?
Dosage can vary depending on the individual and the desired effects. It's recommended to start with a low dose (1-2 grams) and gradually increase until the desired effects are achieved. However, responsible and cautious use is crucial.
Can Kratom Interact with Medications?
Kratom has the potential to interact with certain medications, particularly those that affect the liver. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional if you're taking medications and considering kratom.
Can Kratom Be Used for Opioid Withdrawal?
Some people have used Kratom to manage withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing opioid drugs. However, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider for a safe withdrawal plan.
What are the Potential Long-term Effects of Kratom Use?
Long-term use of kratom can lead to tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms when not taken. It may also have adverse effects on the liver and kidneys in some cases.
Is Kratom Research Ongoing?
Research on kratom is ongoing, but it is still relatively limited. The scientific community continues to study its effects, safety, and potential medical applications.
How Does Kratom Differ from Kava?
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) and kava (Piper methysticum) are both plants that have been traditionally used in Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian cultures, respectively, for their psychoactive properties. However, they’ve different active compounds, mechanisms of action, effects, and potential risks.