What are the Effects of Kratom and how does it work?
Effects from kratom, what can you expect? If you have ever visited the Sirius.nl online smartshop or been to one of our smartshops in person, then you probably encountered the term kratom before. Kratom is considered to be a natural alternative to opioids. Although this legal high is getting more and more attention over the last years, many people still don’t know what it is or what it does.
With this blog I want to give an extensive overview over this interesting plant, including information about the pharmacological mechanisms of Kratom, how to use Kratom, and what you can expect from its effects of kratom. Keep reading if you want to find out more.
What is kratom?
The kratom tree (Mitragyna speciosa) is a plant of the Rubiaceae family (the same plant family as coffee!) that can mostly be found in Thailand, Malaysia, or Indonesia. When grown large enough its leaves are dried, sometimes further processed to powder, and then consumed.
Workers in Thailand have been chewing on kratom leaves for generations, as they benefit from the natural buzz, one of the effects of kratom. Because kratom has both stimulant and pain-relieving effect, it can be considered the perfect drug for working a job that is physically draining.
What is interesting about the history of kratom in Thailand is that, while this is one of the major areas of kratom occurrence and consumption, the plant has actually been illegal for most of the last century. Some rumors say that in the 20th century, the opioid industry wasn’t too happy with the fact that kratom could be used as a cheap and natural pain killer, as this stopped people from buying their pills. So through some campaigns and extensive lobbying, the plant was forbidden, which created an outrage among the workers that were consuming it.
In 2021, however, Thailand passed an update to its narcotics acts, removing kratom from the list of prohibited substances, allowing possession and consumption of the plant that has been part of traditional Thai cultural norms for a long time.
The ‘Kratom Plant Act’, as it is called, lays out a general framework regulating the import and export, sale, consumption, and advertisement of Kratom and all related products. In most other countries around the world, for example the Netherlands or Germany, kratom is treated as a supplement and can therefore be legally bought in smartshops such as Sirius.
Are the effects of kratom like an opioid?
The main active ingredient of kratom is mirtragynine, among some other active alkaloids. Mirtragynine is a biased µ-opioid receptor agonist, which is a very interesting pharmacological characteristic.
While I don’t want to bore you with the chemical details, it basically works like this: When a molecule binds to an receptor, it is considered an agonist. When it comes to opioid receptors, there are multiple types: kappa, delta, and mu (µ). Most known opioids and opiates act on the µ-receptors (they are µ-agonists), and so does kratom.
When an agonist binds to a receptor, there are two possible pathways that are stimulated consequently. The first one, the ‘g-protein recruiting pathway’ is associated with beneficial effects, such as pain relieve, and the second one, the ‘beta-arrestin (ß-arrestin) recruiting pathway’ is associated with more negative effects such as anhedonia or nausea.
The fact that kratom is a ‘biased’ agonist means that it rather stimulates the g-protein pathway over the ß-arrestin recruiting pathway, which could explain why this drug has more beneficial and less negative effects than other synthetic opioids.
Are you interested in reading about pharmacological information? Then check out my two blogs: Introduction to Pharmaceutics of psychedelics part 1 and Introduction to pharmaceutics of psychedelics part 2
So to answer the question from above: yes kratom definitely is an opioid, as it actively binds to and activates opioid receptors in the brain. However, because its completely natural and possesses a unique mechanism, the effects of kratom stands out from other known opioids such as tramadol, codeine, heroin or fentanyl. Still, you should not just take it too lightly, as will be explained in the next sections.
What are the effects of Kratom?
Just as you would expect from an opioid, kratom is used to relieve pain. The effects of kratom are pain-relieving. However, there is a particular mechanism that is very interesting and unique to kratom: When you take low doses (1-2 grams), the effects of kratom are more stimulating, meaning it makes you active and awake. When you take more (3-5 grams), the effects of kratom are sedating, meaning you get calm and tired. While there are always personal differences between the experiences, these effects of kratom are confirmed by most users, including myself.
In addition to the difference in dosing, there are also three different ‘strains’ of kratom; red, green and white. These different strains arise from the different colors of the veins that run through the kratom leaves, which change with time. When leaves are fully matured, their veins become red, when they are still young, they are white, and when they are half-matured they are green.
It is said that the effects of white vein kratom are the most stimulating, the effects of red vein kratom the most sedating, and green vein kratom is the most balanced. And that is what I personally like so much about kratom: you can choose a strain and dosage that best fits your purpose, allowing you to use it both as a stimulant for working or partying, or as a sedative for relaxing and pain treatment. Which of these effects of kratom are best suited for you, you will have to find out for yourself.
Are withdrawel symptoms also effects of kratom?
A lot of people ask me: “Is kratom addictive?”, and to that I generally have to say one thing: If you overdo it, everything can be addictive. Whether drugs such as weed and alcohol, or everyday things like coffee, food and even social media; if you have too much you can spiral into an addiction that makes it hard for your to quit. This also holds for kratom.
Because it acts on your opioid system, you can develop tolerance and dependence, however not as easily as with ‘hardcore’ opioids like heroin or fentanyl. Still, you should not take kratom on an everyday basis. While research shows that kratom withdrawal is different for everyone, some common symptoms you can experience if you take (too) much kratom for a long time include:
- Runny nose
- Hot flashes
- Mood disturbances (anger, depression, restlessness)
- Loss of appetite
- And more….
I also heard a few times that people who take kratom for years develop a ‘grey face’, however I did not yet find a source that confirms this. Still, I always recommend people to take kratom on special occasions only and do not combine kratom with other drugs!
Interestingly, kratom is now being researched as a substitute for opioid addiction. So while kratom itself can be addictive, it is considered to be less worse than being addicted to for example heroin, but because it has some similarities pharmacologically, it can be used by people to dampen withdrawal symptoms. This is a huge potential in today’s times, as the opioid epidemic causes thousands of deaths and no end is in sight.
Maeng Da, Borneo or Sumatra Kratom?
The last thing I want to talk about in this blog is what kind of kratom products are available in the Sirius smartshop. Some kratom products have their name from their country of origin, such as Bali Yellow Kratom, Borneo Red Kratom or Malay Green Kratom. However, there is also ‘Maeng Da Kratom’, which exists in all colors that I explained before.
Maeng Da is considered to be the highest quality of kratom products and is therefore my personal recommendation of this blog. Red Maeng Da Kratom, White Maeng Da Kratom, and Green Maeng Da Kratom are available in powdered forms, which allow extra easy ingestion. We also have green maeng da kratom leaves, which are especially useful if you want to make tea or experience the traditional kratom high by chewing on the leaves.
Lastly, there are also kratom extracts, Red Vein Kratom 25x and Green Vein Kratom 25x. These extracts are the most potent forms of kratom we sell in our smartshop and are only suited for experienced psychonauts. They allow strong experiences at low doses, perfect for people that do not like the taste of kratom.
Which kratom product is the best for you is up for you to decide in the end, as everyone has personal preferences. Next, I will write a blog about how to consume kratom, including a trip report from myself. Keep checking the Sirius blog page to keep updated!
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