Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tree native to Thailand known primarily for it's medicinal and psychoactive properties. Kratom trees on average reach about 50 feet in height and a spread of over 15 feet, making them ideal for large ethnobotanical gardens. Kratom is noted for it's wide array of recreational uses, ranging anywhere from having the properties of a stimulant to those of a sedative. Kratom is frequently referred to as an opiate substitute, and is indeed used in many rehabilitation programs as an opiate replacement. Kratom is often used because of it's versatility and low risk to health.
The Kratom tree is found in a wide variety of sizes, growing anywhere from 12 feet to 100 feet in height, and up to 15 feet in width. The green leaves grow to about 7 inches in length and 4 inches in width on average, but may be larger or smaller depending on the growing conditions. The tree grows hundreds of small clusters of bright-yellow flowers, characterized by their unique mace-like shape. Kratom trees are somewhat flimsy, and are best kept in areas away from wind.
The Kratom tree is best known for it's use as a psychoactive drug. It is most popular in South Asia, typically being used by middle-aged men in the middle-lower class. Kratom can be prepared in many ways, but the most common form is a fine brown powder, made from the dried, crushed leaves. However, Kratom is also common in the form of an alcoholic extract, as a resin, or in a tea. Kratom has been described as a stimulant, sedative, opioid, or less commonly, a psychedelic. Low doses begin at around 2-4g of plain, dried leaf, moderate doses around 3-6g, and strong doses starting at 5g. When chewed fresh, half of a large leaf (8-10") is often enough to produce noticeable effects.
Kratom is known for it's versatility as a psychoactive drug, as well as it's likeness to opioids. As a general rule, Kratom acts as a stimulant in low doses, and as sedative in average to high doses. Many people feel both stimulation and sedation, not unlike nicotine. A significant effect of Kratom is that it can drastically increase the desire to work, making it popular amongst blue-collared laborers. The positive effects of Kratom include, but are not limited to, simultaneous stimulation and sedation, empathy, euphoria, vivid waking dreams, increased work ethic, and aphrodisiac-like properties.
Like most psychoactive drugs, Kratom has a set of common side effects. Although many people feel no side effects at all, others people have trouble overlooking them, claiming that they interfere too much with the desired effects. Undesired effects of Kratom can include:
- Bitter taste
- Mild depression
- False sensation of heat
- Excessive perspiration
- Alchohol-like hangover
The M. speciosa is a temperature sensitive plant, as leaf fall begins to occur at 39.2 degrees farenheit (4 degrees celsius.) The Kratom tree is also quite flimsy and should be kept away from wind. As it is a tropical tree, it should be kept in wet, fertile soil with plenty of sun exposure. Many agree that Kratom is quite an intelligent ethnobotanical to grow, as it is versatile and very plentiful.
The leaves of the Kratom tree contain many alkaloids, responsible it's psychoactive properties. There are over 25 alkaloids in the kratom tree, two of which (mitragynine and paynanthine) are belived to be unique to the plant. Mitragynine is believed by many to be the primary active alkaloid in M. speciosa. Mitragynine is soluble in alcohol, chloroform and acetic acid.