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Kratom 101

Posted: 21-05-2020 | Written by: Luna Sirius

First time I took Kratom I was out at a party. I took about 3 grams of Kratom powder mixed with some water. The taste wasn’t the best, a bit bitter, but nothing too bad I couldn’t handle. I hadn’t eaten too much earlier, so the effects started hitting after about 20 minutes. I felt energetic, upbeat and very talkative. My body felt strong and my mind quite active.
I danced a lot, enjoyed the night and on the way back home, after about 3 hours, I could feel the effects of the herb leaving my body.

What I had just experienced, was one of the two very different sides of the Kratom leaf, which can also produce very relaxing, sedative effects.

Origins and chemical background

Originally from Southeast Asia, Kratom, or more specifically, Mitragyna speciosa, is a tree member of the Rubiaceae family, which also includes the coffee plants. Primarily found in Thailand and Malaysia, Kratom has been used as an herbal drug for many years, with mentions of it dating back as far as 1800.
The kratom tree can reach heights from 5 to 15 meters, has oval leaves with pointed ends and grows beautiful yellow flowers. Traditionally, its leaves were used as medicine to treat a range of ailments including muscle pain, diarrhoea, cough and opioid addiction. They were also commonly used by workers who sought its energy boosting effect to withstand long hours of work.
The first time the chemical components of the plant leaves were isolated was during the 60s. It is now known that over 20 different chemicals make-up the leaves with multiple of them being responsible for its pharmacological properties. Two of the main responsible for the psychoactive properties of the plant are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which can lead to both stimulant and opioid-like effects depending on the dose. Although kratom leaves typically contain much more mitragynine than 7-hydroxymitragynine, the latter is thought to have a much more potent analgesic effect (about 10 times stronger than morphine). Like morphine, however, kratom can also be addictive (although to a lesser extent), and daily use is by no means recommended. Under controlled conditions, however, it has been shown that kratom has the potential to alleviate morphine and alcohol withdrawal effects. Some findings suggest that kratom also has anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and muscle relaxant properties. It might also improve the immune system, lower blood pressure and help with chronic pain, for which the 7-hydroxymitragynine molecule should be praised.

Kratom classification

Usually, kratom is classified according to its geographical location and the vein colour of its leaves.

Leaves

It is said that leaves with a red vein are more sedative, whereas those with white veins are more stimulant. Green veins are said to have effects that lay in-between the red and white veins. One single tree may have branches containing leaves with all different colours.
Red veins are usually found in young leaves whereas green veins are a sign that the leaves are more mature. All other vein colours appear during the transition from red to green vein.

Geographical location

Although some certainly feel a difference between the different types of vein, a greater variance is found between kratom from different regions of the world. For instance, kratom from Thailand is known to have much higher levels of mitragynine than those from Malaysia. Malaysian leaves, on the other hand, contain some extra alkaloids that are not found in the Thai counterparts.

Other factors

Other factors such as the age of the plant and the time of the harvest may also have a huge influence in the potency and desired effects of the plant. For example, older plants tend to have much higher concentrations of mitragynine than younger ones. Nowadays there is also a genetically enhanced strain that originated from the traditional Thai variant. This new strain is called Maeng Da and it is thought to be much more potent than other forms of kratom, although its effects seem to go away faster than other strains. Maeng Da is thought to produce a more energizing effect and is less euphoric compared to other kratom plants.
At Sirius, it is possible to get both Maeng Da leaves and Maeng Da powder from the red, green and white variant.

Kratom consumption

Leaves and powder: While in Thailand it is most common to chew the kratom leaves or make tea out of it, in Malaysia kratom is usually consumed as a juice. As kratom can have a very bitter taste, it is not uncommon for people to mix its powder version with sweet drinks such as fruit juice, kefir or milk. Chocolate milk, for instance, is known to mask the bitter taste very well. When making tea or simply drinking it with cold water, one might want to add some drops of lemon juice, as it facilitates the extraction of the chemicals in the leaf. In case you have access to fresh leaves and you would like to simply chew on them, make sure to remove the vein from it.

Extracts: Kratom extracts are also usually available. Extracts are much more potent than leaves or powder and hence should be dealt with very carefully. Inexperienced users should stay away from the extracts until they’ve experimented enough with the leaves or powder. As extracts are much more potent, misuse of the substance might lead to a rapid increase in tolerance. For the experienced user, Sirius offers kratom extract at 25X of both green and red vein type.

Doses

The potency of the kratom leaves depends on many variables, from your own sensitivity to the plant to what strain and batch you are consuming. For instance, even if you consume the very same strain, different batches might still have considerably different ratios of the psychoactive substances. Taking this in consideration, one should always start a new batch at very low doses and gradually increase them until the desired effect is reached.

Low: For a mildly stimulant effect, one should take from 1 to 5 grams of kratom. At this level, you might feel slightly more energized paired with a pleasant upbeat sensation. It is not rare, however, for some to feel a bit anxious and agitated. Different strains might lead to different effects and only experimentation will teach you what suits you best.

Moderate: At doses between 5 and 15 grams, the kratom starts working as a sedative and might have more opioid-like effects. You might feel drowsy and enter an almost dream-like state. Depending on your own sensitivity and state of mind you might feel either euphoric or dysphoric and will certainly feel more of the analgesic effect. This dose is what is usually recommended for those seeking pain relief.

High: Doses higher than 15 grams are very sedating and may induce stupor. This dose is definitely not for beginners and one should approach it very carefully. Even as an experienced user, one should only take higher doses of kratom after having tasted the lower doses of the batch.
Generally, it is recommended to take kratom with an empty stomach as it may trigger nausea. By taking it on an empty stomach you also make sure you won’t have to wait too long for the effects to kick-in. On an empty stomach, you might start feeling the effects 20 to 30 minutes after ingesting the leaves. If you have eaten, it might take up to 90 minutes before you start feeling anything. Once the effects begin, you will have from 2 to 5 hours to enjoy them.

Final considerations

Although kratom is becoming an ever more popular substance in the West as well as Southeast Asia, there is still much to learn from its leaves. As with any other natural herb, one should always be careful in the ways it is consumed. For instance, it is known that kratom can be mildly addictive and as such, one should make sure to not take it too regularly. Kratom may also interact with other substances and so, before mixing it with anything else, make sure to properly research how the two substances might react. For example, kratom should never be mixed with opiates as this could lead to fatal respiratory depression. Mixing kratom with depressants or sedatives in general can be very dangerous. For instance, the interaction between high doses of alcohol and kratom could potentially lead to respiratory failure. So, if you want to have a pleasant and most importantly safe time with kratom, make sure to do your research. After all, good things come to those who investigate!

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