Kratom: A dangerous or beneficial plant? – News-Medical.Net2 min read
A new Disease-a-Month study summarizes the traditional and modern uses of kratom, as well as its pharmacology, benefits, and adverse health impacts.
Study: Kratom: History, pharmacology, current user trends, adverse health effects and potential benefits. Image Credit: NIKCOA / Shutterstock.com
Kratom was first scientifically described in the 19th century by the Dutch botanist Pieter Willem Korthals. Kratom, whose scientific name is Mitragyna speciosa, is a tree that is mainly found in South Asia, particularly Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
When Kratom reaches maturity, it has a maximum height of 25 centimeters (cm) and forms a characteristic ovate-acuminate leaf shape. The leaves of this tree consist of pinnate venation that can be of white, green, or red color.
Kratom belongs to the coffee family and shares similar dose-dependent stimulant properties; however, it does not contain theophylline or caffeine.
Kratom has gained importance over the last two decades due to its opioid-like effects, as well as dose-dependent stimulant properties that are mediated by the indole alkaloids present in its leaves.
Mitragyna speciosa korth (kratom) Image Credit: sarin photo / Shutterstock
Uses of kratom
Kratom has historically been used as a source of medicine, as well as for recreational purposes, for centuries in many Southeast Asian countries. Typically, kratom is given a common name that is specific to the local region where it is grown.
Only the fresh leaves of the kratom plant are chewed to obtain its stimulant effects and reduce fatigue from hard labor by fishermen, farmers, or laborers. In addition, kratom has been used to treat symptoms of substance use disorders, particularly opium withdrawal. Rarely, the dried leaves are used either to prepare a water decoction or for smoking.
Kratom use is now banned in Malaysia and Indonesia, while Thailand allows the legal growth and consumption of the plant. Nevertheless, Indonesia is involved in the export of kratom as a cash crop to the United States and several other countries.
In Europe and the U.S., kratom is sold along with cannabidiol, cannabis, and kava products, all of which have medicinal and recreational uses. Kratom is primarily sold as a loose powder, tablet, or capsule in Western countries.
Typically, these kratom products will contain approximately 2% mitragynine. Comparatively, kratom containing 7% and 40% mitragynine is sold as semisolid resins, gummies, or soft gels.
Traditionally, kratom has been used for anti-diarrheal, analgesic, antipyretic, anti-diabetic, and muscle relaxant …….