Kratom

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Kratom Extract

 

For centuries the coffee bean has been the stimulant of choice for countless individuals around the globe. The virtual ubiquity of products caffeinated using some derivative of the coffee beans has made coffee the most widely known stimulant of its kind, but despite that there are many others out there with a similarly long history of use by man. One of these alternatives to the coffee bean that is gaining widespread attention in the Western world is kratom, and the variety of products that can be made using kratom extract. Like coffee kratom has been used for centuries in certain cultures, and actually has a much more versatile range of applications.

 

The History of Kratom

 

Kratom refers to the leaf of the Mitragyna speciosa, which is a deciduous evergreen indigenous to Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia. The stimulant has been used for hundreds of years by individuals of that region, with mastication of the leaves being the most traditional means of consumption. Acting as an opioid receptor and possessing psychoactive properties, kratom leaves have long been used for medicinal and recreational purposes. In certain regions of Thailand, especially regions on the southern peninsula of the country, kratom usage is estimated at above 70% of the male population, who chew an average of 10-60 leaves (and in some cases more) per day.


Despite the historic and widespread use of the leaf in Thailand, the government banned the plant in the 1940s. Given that Mitragyna speciosa is native to Thailand, the ban was only partially effective in limiting access to the stimulant. Studies over the years have not linked the chewing of kratom leaves or the use of kratom extract with any negative health effects, and the original motivation for the ban has been identified as economic rather than medical or social. Because it functions as an opioid receptor, the Thai government was worried that the widespread use of kratom would lead to a decrease in opium consumption in the country, which was a commodity that they collected a substantial tax on.


Recent studies into the history, health risks, and use of the leaf in Thailand have started talks about lifting the long-standing prohibition.

 

Kratom in the West

 

Outside of Thailand and Southeast Asia kratom use has been limited in the mainstream for a variety of reasons; the widespread use of coffee beans, limited access and knowledge of kratom, and other factors such as availability of exports have all been contributing factors. In recent years though kratom use has become increasingly common, and the stimulant has even begun to attract the attention of legislators in some U.S. states. Unlike Southeast Asia where chewing the whole leaf is the primary means of consumption, in the U.S. kratom extract processed in various forms has become the popular medium of choice.

 

Although there has been some discussion of kratom in some regulatory circles in the U.S., no formal regulations have yet to be passed. Given this fact, kratom is available through a variety of retailers, many of them online. While the lack of regulation has made kratom extract, capsules, and tea widely available, it has also led to what can be a confusing marketplace for novice kratom users.

 

Understanding Kratom Extracts

 

Arguably the most popular kratom product in the U.S. is kratom extract, which comes in many different varieties. Vendors will often market their specific extracts by talking about the finness of the grind, "grade" of leaves, and other buzz words to help move product. Unfortunately the lack of regulation means that there is no easy-to-follow industry standard for consumers to follow when shopping around. To help confused kratom consumers make sense of the marking madness surrounding kratom extracts in the U.S., below are a few facts to keep in mind:

 

    The fineness of the extract grind is not indicative of the extract's strength. Despite what some consumer's claim, a finer grind does not in-and-of-itself make the extract stronger. The reason that finer grinds sometimes make for a stronger affect, is because a finer grind can increase the rate of absorption of the active chemicals in kratom extract.
    The real potency depends on the chemical composition of the plant. The real factor that influences an extract's inherent strength (grade of the grind notwithstanding) is the leaf's specific alkaloid profile. The types, concentration, and organization of the alkaloids in a kratom plant are what determine its effect, and these can vary from strain to strain and region to region.
    Like any product, quality and consistency can vary greatly by vendor. Kratom extracts can be very similar from seller to seller, but inevitably there will be differences in quality, strength, and product consistency. The most effective way to locate the "best" kratom extract is to try a variety of offering from vendor to vendor.

The Future of Kratom Extract

 

As mentioned earlier, kratom is currently not regulated to any substantial degree in the U.S. While one or two states have taken action to regulate some of the chemicals found in kratom, since kratom extract is not a synthetic compound, it is not covered under these efforts. Currently there has been no research to show that kratom has adverse health effects, or is any more habit forming than other comparable stimulants such as caffeine.

 

Despite the fact that kratom extract is very comparable to coffee beans in regards to health effects and addiction, kratom's characteristics as an opioid receptor has brought with it some of the stigma normally reserved for more dangerous controlled substances. The fact that kratom has been used with some success to help opium addicts break their addictions has only strengthened this association, and may prove to be a catalyst for tighter regulation in the future.