What is kratom?


Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tree native to Thailand and Malaysia. The primary active chemicals are mitragynine, mitraphylline, and 7-hydroxymitragynine, all found in the leaves. Kratom leaves have been chewed for stimulant, sedative, and euphoric effects by people in Thailand and South Asia for centuries. It is in the same family as coffee and the psychoactive plant Psychotria viridis. Kratom is used for its psychoactive effects in its native region, with growing use elsewhere in the world. It is grown widely in Indonesia for worldwide trade.



Kratom is often described as producing simultaneous, contradictory effects. Users report both an opiate-like sedation and coca-like stimulation. In smaller doses the dominant effects seem to be enhanced energy, reduced muscle pain, cough suppression, boost in antioxidants, and mild sense of well-being. Higher doses tend to be more tranquilizing, causing an opiate-like dreamy reverie. Kratom is sometimes used as an opium substitute and has been found to suppress symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

  • Simultaneous stimulation & sedation
  • Feelings of empathy
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Aphrodisiac qualities for some people
  • Vivid waking dreams
  • Pain relief
  • Useful with physical labor
  • Reduce withdraw symptoms from opiate addiction

When taken orally, kratom effects typically become noticeable in 15-20 minutes and clearly apparent in 30-60 minutes. Strong doses may have a more rapid and dramatic onset. A moderate kratom dose can cause strong effects lasting 2-4 hours, though residual effects can last hours longer. Users sometimes experience an afterglow the next day. Some visual effects are reported, including both open-eye and closed-eye effects, though they are considered fairly mild if they occur at all. Effects reported include wavering, shifting, and strobing in the visual field; some patterning with eyes closed; and increased closed-eye visualizations.

Though most reports from kratom users to the posative side effects some negative effects can and do occur in some people.

  • Very bitter taste
  • Dizziness, nausea and/or vomiting at higher doses
  • Mild depression during and/or after
  • Increase in (perceived?) body temperature. (feel hot and sweaty)
Kratom is not known to be toxic, but it can be quite unpleasant at high doses, causing nausea and vomiting. Regular use can lead to physical dependency. Kratom use can cause constipation similar to that caused by opiates. Chronic heavy use is reported to cause insomnia, dry mouth, and anorexia.
When using kratom
  • Do not operate heavy machinery. Do not drive.
  • Care should be taken if combining with other sedatives (or stimulants).
  • Use extreme caution if combining with MAO inhibitors. Kratom could be dangerous to combine with an MAOI.
There are reports of physical dependency after frequent, heavy kratom use. Individuals who use it regularly or in large doses may find it difficult to stop. Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, yawning, diarrhea, runny nose, and pain in the joints or muscles.