What is Kratom?
Kratom (also known as ketum or biak) is the product of the dried and powdered leaves of the mitragyna speciosa tree which grows natively in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and New Guinea. The leaves of this 4-16 meter high tree have mainly been used there amongst mostly agrarian or laboring societies to conquer fatigue and increase productivity. As well, Kratom has also been used to treat such medical conditions such as morphine dependence in Thailand and as an opiate substitution in Malaya. In these communities, Kratom is embraced as a preferred alternative to narcotics. In this way, Kratom is not perceived with the stigmatic contexts as garnered in the west. The leaves (fresh or dried) are usually chewed, ingested or smoked. In small quantities, this causes a stimulant-affect. Other uses include the treatment of diabetes, diarrhea, and fever. Although used primarily for work-enhancement there it is also used during social gatherings in Asia.
Use in America.
In recent years kratom has come under some crossfire between western Governments and the users therein. In the United States, Kratom was relatively unknown outside of the circles of people which used it. It was available legally and sold at head shops and online in the same legal grey-zone as Salvia. However, Kratom came into the public eye when in August of 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced its intention to place the active materials in the kratom plant into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances act next to drugs like MDMA and Heroine. The FDA validated its announcement by citing over 600 calls to poison control centers between 2010 and 2015 in response to the backlash from the medical and holistic communities which supported Kratom use as an alternative in pain relief and an antidote to withdraw. Because of such strong protests, a group of 51 members of the US House of Representatives and a group of nine senators each sent letters to acting DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg protesting the listing of around 140,000 people signed an online White House Petition. The FDA eventually withdrew its notice and invited public comments over a review period ending in 1st of December 2016. Although the legality of Kratom still is being considered by the DEA and the FDA, it is still legal on a federal level, and the ensuing uproar caused by its premature condemnation may have had an adverse effect to the one intended. It brought Kratom into the public eye and part of a serious discussion on how to curb opiate addiction. As of March 2018, five million people in the US use Kratom, and this alone attests to its variety of purposes found amongst Americans. As of now its thought that the majority of use is for recreational however that is changing as more research is being held for its other uses. Mainly, its aid in leveling the often deadly risks of opiate withdrawal as well as its use an antidiabetic by lowering blood sugar levels. Another very enticing use for Kratom is that of an aphrodisiac, used to increase stimulation and enhance male performance in the bedroom. The most exciting thing about Kratom is that much is yet to be known. We will keep you posted here at Cali Botanicals as research develops.
Effects on the brain
The main psychoactive ingredients in kratom are Mitragynine and Paynantheine. In February of 2018, the FDA labeled Kratom as an opioid which garnered lots of criticism from the Kratom community and Researchers. This criticism was endowed with promising research that Kratom has essential uses in combating opiate addiction and the harrowing withdrawal that comes with trying to kick the habit. A fundamental explanation of why this is can be found in the way which your serotonin receptors bond with opiates compared to how they bond with mitragynine, the most active chemical in kratom. Generally speaking, opioid receptors recruit beta-arrestin, a kind of protein that affects electrical signals in the cell. Beta-arrestin has been shown to be responsible for a lot of the adverse effects in opioid use; respiratory depression and addictive symptoms being some under current research. However, Mitragynine does not inhibit beta-arrestin. Thus although Mitragynine does affect opiate receptors, just not in the same way as opiates and not with the same negative effects. Cali Botanicals will be posting more on this as research develops stay tuned!