Mitragyna speciosa, commonly referred to as kratom, is a tropical evergreen tree that is native to Southeast Asia, specifically to Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Papua New Guinea, and elsewhere in the Pacific Rim. The word ‘Kratom’ originated in Thailand, and is synonymous to Biak-biak, Ketum, Kakuam, Krypton, Ithang, and Thom.

About The Kratom Plant

M. Speciosa can grow to a height of 82 feet or 25 meters. Its trunk can grow to a diameter of three feet or 0.9 meter. The trunk is straight and the outer bark is grey and smooth. The leaves are glossy and can grow 7 to 12 cm (2.8 to 4.7 inches) wide and 14 to 20 cm (5.5 to 7.9 inches) long when fully open. The dark green leaves are opposite in growth pattern and ovate-acuminate in shape, with 12 to 17 pairs of veins. The deep yellow flowers generally grow in clusters of three. The calyx-tube has five lobes and is 2 mm (0.08 inches) long; the corolla-tube is 2.5 to 3 mm (0.098 to 0.12 inch) long.

Kratom was first formally described in 1839 by Pieter Korthals, the Dutch colonial botanist who named the tree as such. It was renamed and reclassified a number of times before British surgeon and naturalist Dr. George Darby Haviland gave the final name and classification in 1859. Since the start of the 21st century, kratom has significantly increased in visibility throughout the world. Regular users consider it as an indispensable aid for physical and mental health. Others enjoy its recreational value, both as a stimulant and sedative-narcotic.

Traditional Use

Kratom is a member of the Rubiaceae family, along with coffee and gardenia. It is very bitter so it is usually combined with a sweetener. It has been used in traditional medicines since the 1800s and is now considered as an emerging herbal drug. It has some stimulant-like effects and exhibits opioid properties. Hence, there is potential for abuse. The leaves in particular contain substances with psychotropic or mind-altering effects. They are chewed to ease musculoskeletal pain, increase appetite, energy, and libido in ways similar to coca and khat. Extracts and leaves are used as local anesthetic and also to treat wounds. They have also been used to treat cough, loose bowel movement as well as intestinal infections. Kratom is even used by workers in monotonous or arduous professions to withstand exhaustion, enhance mood and as a painkiller. Peasant workers in Thailand have been known to munch on the leaves up to ten times a day while working under the sun.

The leaves are plucked by hand and consumed by chewing, boiling into a tea, drying and smoking, or by placing into capsules and tablets. The effects are unique because stimulation takes places at low doses, while euphoric and opioid-like depressant effects occur at higher doses. More recently, it is being taken for recreational purposes. The effects normally start to kick in within five to ten minutes and typically last for two to five hours.

Kratom for Opioid Withdrawal

Aside from the aforementioned uses, kratom is reportedly effective in preventing withdrawal from opiates like heroin or prescription narcotics. In 1836, it was first reported that kratom is being used as an opium substitute in Malaysia. It was also being taken as an opium substitute in Thailand since the 19th century. 

Data on how frequently kratom is used globally are lacking, since it is not detected by drug-screening tests. However it appears that the rate of use is increasing, particularly among people who have been treating chronic pain with opioids bought without prescription and are merely cycling their use. As of the time of this writing, there have been no official tests to determine the safety and/or efficacy of kratom when it comes to managing opioid addiction.

Recreational Use

Starting in 2010, a tea-based cocktail called 4×100 became extremely popular among teenagers across Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand. It is a mixture of kratom leaves, Coca-Cola, cough syrup, and ice. The following year, those who consumed the cocktail were often perceived more negatively than users of the classic kratom. In 2012, the use of 4×100 became a serious issue among young people in three provinces situated along the border with Malaysia. In the United States, as of 2015, kratom can be purchased in head shops and online. However, the prevalence of its use was unknown at that time.

The Best Kratom for Sale in 2019

Kratora is a great source for buying not only high quality, all natural Kratom but CBD and other botanicals as well.

About the Company

Kratora has been in business selling Kratom since 2013. Nowadays they also offer a variety of other products, including CBD, Kanna, and kava kava, but their main focus is still on providing a range of different, high-quality Kratom products. The team behind Kratora has traveled all over the world in search of quality Kratom growers. They only buy from the best growers they’ve found and source organic, all natural products. The Kratom they sell is packaged fresh and sealed tight in order to maintain that freshness.

Kratora doesn’t offer just one type of Kratom. They sell classic strains that you can find from most vendors as well as more rare products that you may not be able to find anywhere else. They sell an assortment of different Kratom powders, Kratom powders that have added alkaloids, stem and vein Kratom, extracts, and variety packs in case you’re not sure which Kratom powder you want to buy. They offer various products made from all three veins of Kratom, green, red, and white.

Both domestic and international shipping is offered, as well as free priority shipping within the U.S.A. for orders of $50 or more. If you encounter any problems, their customer service team is available 24/7 to help you out. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied for whatever reason. If you are satisfied and intend to buy more Kratom from them in the future, they have a rewards program where you can earn points for each order and then redeem those points for product discounts.

Top Products

One of Kratora’s most popular products is their Maeng Da Kratom, a Thai Kratom strain. This is also one of the strongest strains they have available. This Kratom works quickly and is quite potent- you don’t need much to see results and a little goes a long way. This product is more expensive than some of the others on Kratora but  I would say that it is definitely worth the price. The aroma is strong and “revitalizing” in nature, smelling like a combination of green tea and earthy scents. 

Green Malay Kratom is another popular, less expensive option available on Kratora. This Kratom is finely ground and made from mature leaves that have been carefully selected before grinding. This variety of Kratom is great for both relieving anxiety and helping to focus and stay motivated while completing tasks. Malay is a popular Kratom variety in general and the Green Malay that Kratora sells is some of the most high quality available. This is also a good product to buy if you’ve never tried Kratom before as it appeals to a wide variety of people.

If you are interested in trying one of the enhanced Kratom products, Super Enhanced Bali Kratom is the top choice. This is the typical Bali Kratom mixed with 70HM and Mitragyne alkaloids. This strain of Kratom comes from Indonesia. This is definitely a product where a little goes a very long way as it is super potent. You won’t pay much more for this version of the Bali Kratom than you would for the regular one so you don’t have to spend a lot if you’re looking to mix things up. If it is too potent but the regular powder isn’t potent enough, you can always mix the two together. 

The Good

  • Shipping is fast! Standard shipping is 2-3 days and I received my order in two days. Standard shipping is also free on orders over $50 which is great.
  • There is a 30-day money back guarantee. If you don’t like the product you’ve bought for whatever reason, you can ship it back to Kratora for a refund.
  • Their customer service is fast as well. If you forget something in your order or make an error in your address, they can quickly change your order before it is shipped out. They are also very helpful and courteous when answering questions or dealing with problems like late or damaged packages.
  • You can search by product, aroma, or region when looking for Kratom. 
  • Orders typically include free samples.

The Bad

  • Certain products (like the popular Maeng Da Kratom) can be purchased for less expensive prices elsewhere. 
  • You have to pay return shipping when returning products for a refund. It can also take three weeks or so after the package is received by Kratora for your refund to be processed.
  • The aromas are not described based on their actual smell. They are instead described as calming, stimulating, relaxing, soothing, etc. This is great if you’re looking for a specific effect from your Kratom but not so great if you want to know how it actually smells.

The Verdict

This is a great company with excellent customer service. There are some minor tweaks that could be made to the website. I would like to be able to search by how the product actually smells, not the effect the smell has. It would also be helpful to have the actual aroma in the product description. When it comes to the products themselves, they are of high quality and have excellent results. Shipping is fast and even if something does happen and the package is delayed or lost, Krator’s customer service team will do everything they can to make it right and assure that you have a great experience when buying Kratom from them. I would recommend them as a vendor to anyone, both people trying Kratom for the first time and those who have been using it for years, simply due to the wide variety of different Kratom they have to offer.

Coastline Kratom is a family business whose main priority is providing top quality Kratom at reasonable prices.

About the Company

Coastline Kratom was founded in 2015 by a husband and wife team. The company is in North Carolina. They are committed to providing the best Kratom available and this is why they only source Kratom that has been grown and harvested by indigenous people who have been growing Kratom for generations. The tribal people they get their Kratom from have years of experience selecting the best quality Kratom and preparing it so that it is ready for you to buy.

This is a company that values good customer service and they go above and beyond to make sure their customers are happy. They offer one-day handling so that your order is shipped out as quickly as possible and all shipping on orders over $75 within the U.S.A. is free of charge. If you aren’t satisfied with your order for whatever reason, they also offer a money-back guarantee. They can be reached via phone or email if you have any questions, concerns, or if you need to make a return.

Coastline Kratom offers a few different varieties of Kratom, including Bali Kratom, Maeng Da Kratom, Borneo Kratom, Horned Kratom, and Malay Kratom. They offer red and white vein Kratom for most of these varieties, though the Malay Kratom is only available in green vein. They also have ultra enhanced versions of many of their products. The ultra enhanced versions of their products are made by boiling dense Kratom resin and adding highly concentrated alkaloids. If you aren’t sure which Kratom to buy, they offer variety-packs so you can try a few different ones out. Each type of Kratom is available in 25, 50, 75, and 100g bags. 

In addition to selling Kratom powders, Coastline Kratom also sells live plants. They sell Rifat and Malay strain Kratom plants. They are one of only a handful of vendors within the U.S.A. where you can buy live plants so this is an especially great company for anyone who wants to try their hand at growing and harvesting Kratom for themselves. They sell rooted cuttings which are about 2” when planted as well as 4-6” plants. You don’t just get the plant either when you make your purchase, you’ll also get a pot, soil, humidity dome, and instructions for properly caring for your new Kratom plant. The instructions are especially helpful as Kratom can be difficult to grow for many people. 

Top Products

If you aren’t sure what to buy, a good place to start is by looking through Coastline Kratom’s list of Best Sellers. These are not just the most frequently purchased products but also have the best customer reviews.

One best seller is their Red Vein Maeng Da Kratom. This strain is generally considered to be one of the most popular as it naturally contains more alkaloids and flavonoids than other strains. This powder is sourced from indigenous tribes in SE Asia that only harvest from mature, ripe trees. This powder is more expensive than some other types of Kratom powder sold on the site but it is definitely worth the added price. It has a pleasing scent and many customers find it is helpful with relieving muscle pain. There is also an ultra-enhanced version of this product.

Another best seller is the Green Vein Malay Kratom. This is a more affordable option than the Red Vein Maeng Da Kratom but is just as high quality. This strain of Kratom contains a blend of all alkaloids, while other veins may only contain a few. The plants used to make this Kratom powder are cultivated and harvested by indigenous tribes in Malaysia. The scent of this variety is strong but still pleasant. Customers find this powder is also great for muscle pain relief. 

If you’re completely lost as to which Kratom powder to order, their Beginner’s Pack is also a best seller. This pack contains 25mg each of their Green Vein Malay, Red Vein Maeng Da, and White Bali Kratom powders. This is a good budget-friendly option even if you aren’t a beginner as you get a discount when ordering this pack, compared to the cost of ordering the three products separately. The White Vein Bali Kratom contains at least 25 different alkaloids and is sourced from indigenous tribes in SE Asia. It has an invigorating scent and is also a good choice for relief from severe pain. 

The Good

  • One-day handling. They guarantee that all orders will have a maximum handling time of one day so that they ship within one day and get to you faster.
  • As Kratom is banned in some cities, states, and countries, they obviously can’t ship everywhere. There is a list on their website of every place where they do not ship. This is extremely helpful so you don’t go through the whole process of ordering only to realize they don’t ship to you.
  • Their products are relatively consistent over time. If you order a Kratom that you absolutely love, you’re going to get the same Kratom when you reorder the product. 
  • Great customer service. They let you know right away if an order is going to be delayed for any reason; you don’t have to contact them in order to find out after you’ve already been waiting awhile. They also handle returns and refunds quickly.

The Bad

  • They only ship USPS First Class so there is no way to get faster shipping. Most orders arrive within 3 days for U.S. orders and two weeks for international orders but they do not guarantee orders will arrive within these time frames.
  • You pay return shipping for any returned items.
  • They only do returns and refunds for domestic customers, not international customers.
  • The money-back guarantee timeframe is not listed on the website. I would assume it may be the typical 30 days but check with them before making any returns.
  • It appears that the live plants are currently out of stock and there is no word on when they will be in stock again. 

The Verdict

This is a great domestic company that strives to provide top quality products and they are certainly doing a good job of that! I appreciate the fact that they only source from indigenous growers in the countries the varieties of Kratom they offer are native to. This not only ensures that the Kratom powders they sell are the best possible quality but they are making sure that the people who have been harvesting and cultivating Kratom for centuries are benefiting from the rising popularity of Kratom in the U.S. There are some things the company could work on, like listing the timeline of their return policy or offering expedited shipping but overall I would recommend them. They don’t have the most extensive selection of Kratom powders but you can trust that the varieties they do offer are the best quality available.

Krabot is a company that provides high-quality Kratom sourced from plants grown wild in SE Asia. 

About the Company

Krabot sells a large variety of Kratom products, including powders, capsules, extracts, soaps, and crushed leaf tea. They have a strong social media presence, notably on Facebook and Twitter, as well as a blog where they discuss various topics related to Kratom and provide information about different varieties of the plant. They are located in California but all of their Kratom is sourced from countries in SE Asia, where the plant is native. This means that the Kratom you are getting is some of the highest quality available. All plants used for their products are also pesticide- and chemical-free. 

When you place an order, it will typically be processed and shipped the same day. If there is ever a delay due to heavy volume this will be noted on the website so that you aren’t left in the dark as to why your order is taking longer than usual. You have the choice of USPS Priority Mail or USPS Priority Express Mail when ordering. 

One of the unique things about Krabot is the ways they allow you to pay for products. The current forms of payment are Zelle, CashApp, eCheck, check, money order, and certain cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Litecoin. You have to manually checkout and send them a payment through one of these methods as opposed to paying at the same time you place your order. 

Top Products

One of the best selling products on Krabot’s website is the Green Maeng Da powder. This is available in sizes ranging from 50g to 1kg. This is a popular Thai variety of Kratom. It has a high alkaloid content and is considered the strongest of the green varieties of Kratom. Due to its strength, a little goes a long way and I’d recommend starting with a low dose to see how it affects you. It has a fresh, energizing scent and is great for pain relief as well as boosting mood and staying focused.

Another best selling product is the Bali Gold powder. This is a red vein variety of Kratom that is made using a unique method. What this method is isn’t actually confirmed, the site says it could be sun-dried or it could be partially fermented so the actual technique is a secret. It has a high alkaloid content and the effects it has are actually a blend of the effects of both red and green vein varieties. It has a mellow yet stimulating effect.

The Good

  • Great customer service. You can contact them through a contact form on the website, through a live chat feature on the website, as well as through Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. They make themselves very available to customers and response time is instantaneous at times. 
  • Huge selection of different Kratom products. Other sites only sell powders but they also offer other products such as capsules and extracts.
  • They offer a military discount.
  • They have thousands of reviews, good and bad, on their website. Some other vendors do not have any reviews on their websites and I like the transparency this offers. 

The Bad

  • While I am sure some people will appreciate being able to pay with cryptocurrencies or through apps like CashApp, the fact that you have to manually checkout and cannot pay via credit card is a turn off for me. It adds an extra step to the whole process and I feel like it comes with added hiccups as well, such as them not being able to match your payment to your order.
  • They have a 30-day return policy but the product must be unopened. This doesn’t really allow you to try the product and return it if you are unsatisfied, though they do apparently consider cases where you are unsatisfied on a case-by-case basis.
  • While they do say that they source from jungles in SE Asia, the exact location of where each variety of Kratom comes from is never stated. I prefer to know at least the country my Kratom comes from. 

The Verdict

Krabot offers a huge variety of high-quality Kratom products and their customer service is excellent. However, the fact that you have to manually check out and cannot use easier methods like paying via credit card or PayPal is a huge turn off for me. Other people may not be phased by that though! Another downside is their return policy since you cannot return anything that is opened. I would also like to know more about which countries they source their Kratom from. 

On the positive side, their products are some of the best available and you can easily see that from the many, many positive reviews they have on their website. If you want Kratom products you can’t find available from other vendors, such as capsules or teas, this is definitely a good company for you to buy from. I would recommend Krabot to anyone who wants to buy Kratom products outside of the usual Kratom powder. 

Kraken is a company located in Portland, OR. They offer high-quality Kratom products that are regularly tested for quality assurance purposes. 

About the Company

The team behind Kraken wants to ensure that every product they sell is of the best quality. This is why they regularly perform quality control checks to be sure that their Kratom is free from fillers or contaminants. They test for heavy metal contamination, mold, yeast, e.coli, salmonella, and microbial safety. They are Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant and a member of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). They have two labs available for testing and also use stringent sanitation practices in their facility to better ensure nothing is contaminating their products. Safety of their customers is their top concern and they rigorously screen their suppliers. They also want to help make the entire Kratom industry safer for consumers so they supply educational resources to not only suppliers but to other Kratom vendors. You can request a Certificate of Analysis for any of their products to show that they have been thoroughly tested.

Kraken also has a rewards program that gives customers points not just for purchasing products but for completing a number of tasks as well. You can earn points by signing up for an account, reviewing products, liking their Facebook, tweeting about them, or following them on Google+, in addition to earning 1 point per dollar spent. 100 points are equal to $1 and you can use them on any order. 

In addition to selling Kratom powder, Kraken also sells Kratom capsules, kava powder, and Kratom accessories such as empty capsules, scales, measuring spoons, and tea bags. They have a number of different white, green, and red vein Kratom varieties available. Their prices are very reasonable and actually less expensive than some other vendors.

Top Products

One of their highest rated products is the White Vein Borneo Kratom powder. This is available in 1oz, 2oz, and 4oz bags. This is sourced directly from Borneo and is not only one of the more popular products but also one of the most consistent. If you order a bag and then order another bag months later, the powder is going to be very much the same. It currently has 4.6/5 stars based on over 200 reviews.

Another popular product, with an average of 4.6/5 stars based on over 1,000 reviews, is the Bali Kratom powder. This is premium, commercial Kratom grown in Bali, Indonesia. Their 4oz bag has roughly 46 servings in it so it will last you for quite a while. 

The Sumatra Kratom powder is not only a popular product but one that you don’t see from many other vendors. This strain has a high, varied alkaloid content and is native to both Borneo and Sumatra. This is another product that remains consistent between different batches. It has 4.4/5 stars based on over 200 reviews. 

The Good

  • Free standard shipping on every order. There is no minimum purchase required to get this perk. If your order is over $199 you will also receive free USPS Priority 2-Day shipping.
  • All products are all-natural, chemical free, and rigorously tested for contaminants to ensure quality and safety.
  • They offer C.O.D. as a method of payment. It’s rare to find companies that do this. 
  • They accept Bitcoin if that is a method of payment you like to use. Paying with this method also gives you a 10% discount.
  • I like that you can earn rewards for reviewing and following them on social media, in addition to purchasing products.

The Bad

  • Rewards points expire after 90 days so you have to use them quickly. If you purchase from them frequently this won’t be a problem but more casual Kratom users may find it difficult to spend $100 in order to get enough points to equal $1. 
  • In order to get a refund, you must return unopened products only. You can return opened products for store credit or a replacement, though. 
  • As far as I can tell, you can’t actually read any of the customer reviews on their website. They average the star ratings and have the number of reviews written available on each product listing but none of the actual reviews.

The Verdict

This is a company that truly cares about both customer service and the safety of their customers. They are working hard to ensure that not only are their products safe but that other vendors and suppliers in the Kratom industry are educated about safe practices. Their prices are extremely reasonable and all their products are top quality. Their selection of powders isn’t huge but it does have a good variety of white, green, and red vein Kratoms from various countries in SE Asia. I also like that they sell kava powder as well so if you enjoy drinking kava, this is a one-stop shop for all your Kratom and kava needs.

Pur Kratom is a company based in Florida. They source their Kratom from all over SE Asia, including countries such as Thailand and Indonesia. 

About the Company

Pur was founded because the team behind it wanted to be able to share the benefits of Kratom with their community in Florida, as well as everywhere in the U.S.A. They also want everyone to be well informed about Kratom and its uses so they have information about Kratom available on their website and they run a blog where you can read about Kratom as well. 

Pur Kratom is a very transparent company that values quality control. They lab test each and every one of their products and display the results on their website for everyone to view. They don’t just test products once, either. Every time they receive a shipment from one of their suppliers the products are tested to ensure safety and quality. 

Pur ships all orders within the same business day if they are placed before 3 PM. Weekend orders are shipped on the next business day. They have many different shipping options available, including USPS Express and UPS Next Day Air. They ship discretely in secure bubble mailers that only display their return address. 

You can purchase a large variety of different Kratom powders from Pur Kratom, as well as Kratom capsules. Some of the varieties they have available are Red Thai Kratom, Premium Bali Kratom, and the popular Red Maeng Da. powders are available in 1oz, 4oz, ½ lb, and 1 lb bags. Capsules are available in bottles of 50. 

Top Products

The White Bali Kratom powder is one of the most highly rated products available on Pur’s website. It comes from Bali, Indonesia and is a very versatile strain of Kratom. It has relaxing, uplifting, and stimulating properties. It has at least 25 alkaloids, the highest amount of any strain of Kratom. It is sourced from mature trees that are harvested by indigenous tribes in SE Asia. Customers use this strain for both pain relief and energy, as well as lifting their moods. 

Another popular product is the Red Vein Borneo powder. Borneo is another strain from Indonesia and Pur’s is sourced from wild plants in the forests of Borneo. This is a popular strain because it has a good balance of alkaloids and is also known for its calming properties. This is also one of the strongest strains available so a little goes a long way. Pur’s Red Vein Borneo is of some of the highest quality available and customers agree that it is better than what is available from other vendors. 

The Good

  • They have a 30-day money back guarantee. 
  • They offer variety-packs for both their powders and their capsules. These come with a 15% discount off the price of buying the products separately. 
  • All their products are tested with each shipment they receive from their suppliers in order to ensure they are offering only high quality, safe products to their customers.
  • They source from countries where Kratom is native and where people have decades of experience harvesting and cultivating Kratom. 

The Bad

  • They only ship to the continental U.S. and Hawaii. They do not ship to any other countries and don’t ship to APO/FPO addresses. 
  • They are currently out of stock of many of their items and it can take a while for them to restock. 
  • Their products are slightly more expensive than Kratom from other vendors. 

The Verdict

If you’re in the U.S.A. this is a good vendor to choose. They have a good variety of products available, in both powder and capsule form, though many are currently out of stock and it can be frustrating waiting for your favorite product to be restocked. You can sign up for updates about restocking though, which is very helpful. I appreciate the fact that they test all their products and that the results are readily available on the website. You know you’re getting high quality, safe products. Even if they can be slightly more expensive than other vendors the assurance that I’m consuming a safe product more than makes up for that. If you’re okay with paying a little more and don’t mind potentially waiting for your favorite strain to come back into stock, this is definitely a good company to check out.

Kratom Side Effects

The common documented side effects include constipation, nausea, and vomiting. More serious side effects include addiction, psychosis, seizure, and respiratory depression in the form of decreased breathing. Other side effects include high heart rate (tachycardia), high blood pressure (hypertension), insomnia, and rarely, liver toxicity. Withdrawal symptoms can occur once use is stopped.

At low doses – approximately 1 to 5 grams of raw leaves – at which stimulant effects have been reported, the side effects include blushing and contracted pupils. Adverse effects associated with stimulation include agitation and anxiety, as well as opioid-related effects like nausea, skin irritation, polyuria (frequent urination), and loss of appetite.

At moderate doses (5 to 15 grams of raw leaves) and higher, at which opioid effects usually appear, additional adverse effects include constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, hypotension, tachycardia, and sweating.

Frequent use of high doses can cause anorexia, weight loss, tremors, psychosis, and seizures. If frequent users stop using kratom, they may suffer from withdrawal symptoms like diarrhea, feelings of distress, hypertension, irritability, insomnia, nausea, muscle and joint pain. 

Severe toxicity is quite rare and typically appears at high doses or when users mix kratom with other substances.

Fatalities have been reported with kratom, both by itself and when it is mixed with other substances. In the United States the FDA reported 44 kratom-related fatalities between 2011 and 2017. One of the deaths involved kratom alone. In Sweden, nine kratom-related fatalities were documented in 2011 and 2012. All of the cases involved a mixture of kratom and other opioids.

There is currently a global concern regarding a potential risk to public health from the use of kratom. In some jurisdictions, its importation and sale have been restricted, and a number of public health officials have already raised alerts. In 2014, the United States FDA prohibited the importation and production of kratom as a dietary supplement. The finished product is sometimes mixed with other psychoactive substances like codeine and caffeine. A total of 16 countries have now listed Kratom as a controlled substance.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a report in July 20166 stating that during the period between 2010 and 2015, poison control centers across the U.S. received 660 reports of kratom exposure. The medical outcomes related to such exposures were reported as minor for 162 or 24.5% of the cases. These involved minimal signs or symptoms that resolved quickly with no residual disability. Moderate exposures accounted for 275 or 41.7% of the cases, which are non-life-threatening but required some form of treatment. Major exposures accounted for 49 or 7.4% of the cases, which are life-threatening and had some residual disability. 

Kratom overdoses are managed in the same way as opioid overdoses. Naloxone is the drug of choice when treating an overdose, in spite of mixed results for its efficacy based on animal studies.

The History of Kratom

It is not certain when the actual use of kratom started, but the practice is believed to be ancient. Amid the growing interest about kratom’s medicinal potential, the bioactive component mitragynine was isolated by scientists in 1921 and tested more than a decade later on humans (1932). It was compared to cocaine because of its stimulant effects on the brain.

In the early 1940s, the Thai government saw a huge drop in opium tax revenue. It was quite evident that drug addicts have turned to kratom to deal with their withdrawal symptoms. Consequently, The Kratom Act was passed in August 1943. It made the planting of kratom illegal across Thailand, while existing trees in the plantations and marsh jungles can be cut down. However, many of the impoverished classes in the southern section of the country continued to pick and use the leaves. These were also sold illegally to other regions but most of the workers kept them for their personal use. 

Elsewhere, the interest from the scientific community prevailed. At least 20 alkaloids were successfully isolated during the 1960s. In 1994, scientists identified kratom’s second primary active compound: 7-hydroxymitragynine. The following year saw yet another breakthrough: the first synthesis of mitragynine.

Public awareness about kratom grew throughout the early 2000s, mostly via online forums and message boards. However, in 2005 Australian authorities banned the sale of both M. speciosa and mitragynine. Possession without a license was likewise prohibited. At about the same time, the government of Thailand ramped up the enforcement of the Kratom Act, with records showing that police arrests quintupled from 2005 to 2009. Three years later, Thai officials ordered the destruction of kratom trees in Satun Province, but the locals defied their attempts.

In the United States, a number of advocacy groups, including the American Kratom Association, the United Kratom Association, and the Botanical Education Alliance have stood their grounds and fought to ensure kratom’s legality. This forced the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to withdraw a “notice of intent” to put kratom into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

As of 2013, kratom has been studied both in animals and human cells. However, no substantial clinical tests have been performed in the United States. A 2007 survey in Thailand found that the lifetime, past year, and past month usage prevalence of kratom were 2.32 percent, 0.81 percent, and 0.57 percent respectively. The survey was conducted among respondents aged 12 to 65 years. These findings made kratom the most widely used drug in Thailand.

To date, Kratom is not listed as an illegal substance and is relatively easy to order online. It is sometimes marketed as a green powder in packets although with labels clearly indicating “not for human consumption.” Kratom is also occasionally sold as a gum or extract.

Little remains known about the real value of kratom or its safety as a herbal drug, since studies into its use are generally of sub par quality. The United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated in February 2018 that there is no definitive evidence suggesting that kratom is safe or effective as a therapeutic agent for any condition. 

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