Welcome to the beginner's guide to kratom

The kratom tree, also known as Mitragyna Speciosa Korth, is a plain-looking evergreen native to southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, New Guinea, and Indonesia, and the Borneo region. It is a member of the Rubiceae family, a designation it shares with coffee. The people of southeast Asia have ingested kratom to treat a wide range of human maladies for millennia.

In Europe and abroad, kratom is a relatively novel product. The global science community has therefore begun to study kratom closely.  

This guide will report on those findings and attempt to provide both the kratom tea and kratom strain newbie with a balanced, comprehensive guide to kratom Europe.

Additionally, this kratom guide will answer popular questions like, is kratom safe?; what are kratom benefits, kratom side effects, other kratom effects?; and is kratom an opioid?

For answers to these questions and even more information, browse the topics below:

01

A Brief political History of the Kratom leaf

General History

Throughout southeast Asia, the M. Speciosa leaf is chewed fresh, smoked, or powdered and brewed as a tea with honey and/or lemon to help day laborers combat fatigue and improve their productivity. 

In Thailand and Malaysia, Kratom, also known as ketum, biak-biak, kakuam, kratom, ithang, and thom/tom, is so deeply embedded in the local culture it is hardly considered a drug.

Kratom is often misspelled as cratom, kartom, craytum, or kraytum.

In 1930, botanists I. H. Burkill and Mohammed Haniff reported in the Cambridge Journal of Asiatic Society that kratom had also been effectively used as a harm reduction tool for opiate users throughout the nineteenth century.

It has been suggested that the kratom tree’s “Mitragyna” appellation was given to the plant by the Dutch botanist Korthals because “the leaves and the stigmas of the flowers of the plant resemble the shape of a bishop’s mitre.”

Cinosi, Eduardo, et al. “Following ‘the Roots’ of Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa): The Evolution of an Enhancer from a Traditional Use to Increase Work and Productivity in Southeast Asia to a Recreational Psychoactive Drug in Western Countries .” BioMed Research International, vol. 2015, 2015, pp. 1–11. Hindawi Publishing Corporation.

Hassan, Zurina, et al. “From Kratom to Mitragynine and Its Derivatives: Physiological and Behavioural Effects Related to Use, Abuse, and Addiction.” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, no. 37, 2013, pp. 138–151.

Kratom Controversy

Kratom is legal in Indonesia, where it’s exported globally as part of the largest economy in southeast Asia. In Malaysia, kratom was legal until 2003, when it was placed on the Poison Act. Thailand outlawed kratom in 1943 and later named it a Schedule 5 substance in the Thai Narcotics Act, the least dangerous category in its legislation.  

In this video, drug expert Hamilton Morris (of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia) discusses the ban on kratom on Thailand. Tanguay argues that kratom was made illegal by a Thai government that saw kratom as a threat to its opium trade, in no small part because it has been widely suggested that kratom is effective in treating opiate addiction.

Hassan, Zurina, et al. “From Kratom to Mitragynine and Its Derivatives: Physiological and Behavioural Effects Related to Use, Abuse, and Addiction.” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, no. 37, 2013, pp. 138–151.

Swogger, Marc T, and Zach Walsh. “Kratom Use and Mental Health: A Systematic Review.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, no. 183, 2018, pp. 134–140. Elsevier B.V.

Kratom In Europe

Kratom’s legal status throughout Europe is outlined extensively in the link below.

Do you know of any kratom controversy in European nations? Let us know in the comment section below.

Kratom in the United States

On August 31, 2016, the United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced its intent to emergency schedule kratom as a Schedule 1 drug. If successful, this action would have quartered kratom with other Schedule 1 drugs like both marijuana and heroin.

However, on October 13, 2016, the DEA rescinded its announcement. It did so because of an outpouring of public comments “challenging the scheduling action and requesting that the agency consider those comments and accompanying information before taking further action.”

02

A Complete, Up-to-Date Look at Kratom’s Phytochemicals and Their Effects

The international science community broadly acknowledges that the use of chemicals to modify human behavior is observable across cultural contexts.

What Produces Kratom’s Effects?

Kratom is an organic substance with multiple strains and diverse methods of preparation. Therefore, unlike synthetic opioids, its chemical composition is complex, and the effects of this composition are dynamic.

Its main alkaloids are mitragynine, paynanthine, speciociliatine, and the more minor 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG).

It has long been assumed that mitragynine is the primary active alkaloid in kratom, but Dr. Zurina Hassan et al suggests that it may in fact be less potent than the less abundant 7-HMG.  

Kratom is an agonist of the µ-opioid receptors. However, it is also an antagonist of the δ- and κ-opioid receptors. Moreover, kratom does not recruit β-arrestin-2, which is associated with classic opioid side effects like respiratory depression, euphoria, and tolerance development.  

Kratom Effects

Kratom’s neurochemical complexity is echoed in its physiological effects.

Most broadly, at low doses (< 1 gram), kratom “can boost energy and enhance mood,” whereas at higher doses kratom is sedating, and may have anxiolytic qualities.

For more specifics on kratom’s effects, see the following:

 

The Applications of Kratom

Can Kratom Treat Opiate Withdrawal?

The Case of the Zebra Fish

Dr. Hassan et al report that in 2007, a study was conducted in which zebra fish were made addicted to morphine (1.5mg/L per day over a two-week period), and subsequently displayed “anxiety-related swimming behaviors” twenty-four hours after the morphine was removed. These behaviors included decreased exploration and increased erratic movements. Withdrawal from morphine also increased their cortisol levels, which suggests that withdrawal was a stressful situation for them.

After the introduction of mitragynine (2mg/L) to the zebra fish, these behaviors lessened and their cortisol levels decreased.

Dr. Hassan et al conclude that this study suggests mitragynine “is effective in ameliorating opiate withdrawal effects.”

Source: “From Kratom to Mitragynine and Its Derivatives…”

Hassan, Zurina, et al. “From Kratom to Mitragynine and Its Derivatives: Physiological and Behavioural Effects Related to Use, Abuse, and Addiction.” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, no. 37, 2013, pp. 138–151.

A Systematic Review of Kratom’s Effects on Mental Health

As of Summer 2017, Drs. Marc Swogger and Zach Wolsh have conducted the only comprehensive review of kratom’s relationship to human mental health. They firmly conclude that kratom research indicates it can be used as a harm reduction tool for sufferers of opiate withdrawal.

Source: “Kratom Use and Mental Health: A Systematic Review.” 

Can Kratom Treat Pain?

Kratom has been shown to have both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Source: “Following ‘the Roots’ of Kratom…”

Can Kratom Treat Anxiety?

Findings suggest that at low doses, kratom can be used as an antidepressant, whereas at higher doses it may have an anxiolytic effect.

Source: “Kratom Use and Mental Health: A Systematic Review.” 

Swogger, Marc T, and Zach Walsh. “Kratom Use and Mental Health: A Systematic Review.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, no. 183, 2018, pp. 134–140. Elsevier B.V.

Cinosi, Eduardo, et al. “Following ‘the Roots’ of Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa): The Evolution of an Enhancer from a Traditional Use to Increase Work and Productivity in Southeast Asia to a Recreational Psychoactive Drug in Western Countries .” BioMed Research International, vol. 2015, 2015, pp. 1–11. Hindawi Publishing Corporation.

What Are Kratom’s Side Effects?

Kratom’s side effects are dose and duration dependent. Common side effects at regular doses may include dehydration, constipation, and dry mouth. At higher doses, users may feel fatigue, increased body temperature, weight loss, and nausea.  

Source: “Prevalence and Motivations for Kratom Use…”

Is Kratom Addictive?

In Psychopharmacology, Dr. Henningfield asserts that kratom will, like its relative coffee, cause dependence in high dose users. He also notes that regular kratom users do not suffer from negative social impairment. 

That kratom users tend not to experience negative social impairment is widely observed.  

Sources: 
1) “The Abuse Potential of Kratom…” 
2) Following ‘the Roots’ of Kratom…”

Does Kratom Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

Kratom withdrawal symptoms may include depression, lethargy, anxiety, and irritability. These withdrawal symptoms have been reported to be less severe than classic opioids.

Source: “Kratom Use and Mental Health: A Systematic Review.” 

Smith, Kristen Elin, and Thomas Lawson. “Prevalence and Motivations for Kratom Use in a Sample of Substance Users Enrolled in a Residential Treatment Program .” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, no. 180, 2017, pp. 340–348. Elsevier B.V.

Henningfield, Jack E, et al. “The Abuse Potential of Kratom According to the 8 Factors of the Controlled Substances Act: Implications for Regulation and Research.” Psychopharmacology, no. 235, 2018, pp. 573–589.

Cinosi, Eduardo, et al. “Following ‘the Roots’ of Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa): The Evolution of an Enhancer from a Traditional Use to Increase Work and Productivity in Southeast Asia to a Recreational Psychoactive Drug in Western Countries.”; BioMed Research International, vol. 2015, 2015, pp. 1–11. Hindawi Publishing Corporation; psychopharmacology, brain research; Swogger, Marc T, and Zach Walsh. “Kratom Use and Mental Health: A Systematic Review.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, no. 183, 2018, pp. 134–140. Elsevier B.V.; Smith, Kristen Elin, and Thomas Lawson. “Prevalence and Motivations for Kratom Use in a Sample of Substance Users Enrolled in a Residential Treatment Program .” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, no. 180, 2017, pp. 340–348. Elsevier B.V.

Swogger, Marc T, and Zach Walsh. “Kratom Use and Mental Health: A Systematic Review.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, no. 183, 2018, pp. 134–140. Elsevier B.V.

Can Kratom Cause Overdoses?

In the United States, the National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that kratom has directly caused two fatalities, though it does not provide an existent source to back this assertion.

Unlike classic opioids, kratom does not seem to cause respiratory depression, and is thus far less likely to cause fatal overdose.

According to Drs. J. E. Henningfield and Oliver Grundmann, most kratom-related calls to poison control centers are minor or moderate in severity. Dr. Henningfield’s user surveys report fewer than 1 percent of respondents sought medical or mental health treatment related to kratom consumption.

It is important to note that while recent research indicates that Kratom can have many positive applications to its users’ lives, it nonetheless can have negative effects and should be taken responsibly. Kratomscience does not support kratom highs as a “legal high.” Kratom should never be used in combination with other drugs, especially without the consultation of a doctor who understands kratom’s recommended dosages.

Sources:
1) 
“Kratom Use and Mental Health: A Systematic Review.” 

2) “The Abuse Potential of Kratom…”

Swogger, Marc T, and Zach Walsh. “Kratom Use and Mental Health: A Systematic Review.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, no. 183, 2018, pp. 134–140. Elsevier B.V.

Grundmann da, patterns in us; Henningfield, Jack E, et al. “The Abuse Potential of Kratom According to the 8 Factors of the Controlled Substances Act: Implications for Regulation and Research.” Psychopharmacology, no. 235, 2018, pp. 573–589..

03

kratom strains, effects, & Preparation

Overview

Many people new to kratom have questions about the effects of its different strains. The following table serves as a comparative base for some of the most popular strains of kratom on the market.

Click on any strain below to find more information:

GREEN SUMATRA

A mix of  Bali’s uplifting boost and Green Malay’s long lasting relaxing effects. 

Dosage: 2.5 – 15 grams

RED INDO

Energizing and stimulating with pain killing effects. Most similar to: Red Vein Kali

Dosage: 2.5 – 15 grams

GREEN INDO

Similar to Bali with fewer negative side effects. Most similar to: Green Malay

Dosage: 2.5 – 15 grams

WHITE VEIN KALI

Energizing and stimulating with pain killing effects

Dosage: 2.5 – 15 grams

coming soon

WHITE VEIN THAI

Similar to Bali with fewer negative side effects

Dosage: 2.5 – 15 grams

coming soon

GREEN MALAY

Varies between suppliers but is typically more stimulating with little euphoria

Dosage: 2.5 – 15 grams

GOLD RESERVE EXTRACT​

Powerful extract by applying highly concentrated kratom alkaloids back to natural kratom leaf

Natural Enhanced True Thai

Made from taking a 90% pure alkaloid extraction of Thai Kratom and reapplied to a Green Vein Thai leaf. Most similar to: Ultra Enhanced Indo

Dosage: 1 gram or less (if mixed with powdered leaf)

natural enhanced white sumatra

Created by taking a 90% pure alkaloid extraction from white vein kratom and mixing it with White vein leaf. Most similar to: Gold Reserve

Dosage: 1 gram or less (if mixed with powdered leaf)

how to prepare kratom

There are many popular methods of using the powdered leaf, but the most common are:

Kratom Tea

Kratom tea is a convenient and effective way to prepare kratom.

It is important to note that only powdered leaf should be used to make tea. Extracts should not be used; extracts are more expensive, and the water’s heat destroys mitragynine.

  1. Start by measuring between 2.5 and 15 grams of powdered leaf.
  2. Boil 0.5 to 1.0 liter of water. More water will dilute kratom’s flavor but will not affect its phytochemical composition.  
  3. Put the kratom powder into a large cup or container with a pour lip, and pour the boiling water on top.
  4. Stir until it is thoroughly mixed. Be sure there aren’t any clumps of dry powder.
  5. Add sugar, artificial sweeter, or honey to cut its bitterness, and stir. Honey is generally preferred. Let sit until cool (at least 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  6. Once cooled, allow the powder to settle.

That’s it! Pour the tea into a drinking cup and enjoy! Add more sweetener to taste, or add more water or ice cubes to mask the flavor.

Mix Kratom with Food

Our favorite recipes include mixing kratom with apple sauce or ice cream! Other good suggestions include mixing with chocolate almond milk or chocolate protein powder.

Keep in mind that kratom has a strong flavor and blend well with every dish.

You will not reduce the efficacy of kratom if you take it with food, but ingesting kratom on an empty stomach may change the subjective experience of its effects.

If you have a recipe you’d like to share with us, please share it in the comment section below!

Toss and Wash

To toss and wash, you’ll simply spoon the powder into your mouth and wash it down with a liquid.

This is the most “difficult” method, because the powder is dry and will stick to your mouth and throat, therefore causing some users to to gag or blow the powder out of their mouth. If using this method of consumption, it is best to spoon small amounts at a time.

Some argue that toss and wash provides the purest effects of the kratom leaf, but it has also been known to cause digestive problems like constipation.

04

Kratom Legality in Europe

Legal countries

ilLegal countries

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Lea Lancaster

    I found this very educational, Thank You

  2. Dejan

    Hello,

    I come from Slovenia, Europe. I want to buy kratom, for first time, but dont know what kind to buy, for newbie, and if you ship to Slovenia.
    also pls advise if possible to smoke it ( I saw somewhere, it is possible ), or only consume it as mentioned on your site.

    thanks/ rgds,
    Dejan

    1. Gerard Galofre

      Hi Dejan,

      Thank you for your comment.

      There are many ways of taking Kratom, the most common ones are diluting it in water (tea), in a capsule, or with food.
      There are various vendors selling Kratom online. We recommend using https://www.getkratom.com/eu/en/ given their consistent quality and good reviews.

  3. Britin Lindberg

    I do not see Roatan, Honduras on the list of legal or illegal. Any insight on that?

    1. Gerard Galofre

      Hi Britin,

      Thank you for your comment.

      As you can see on our legality page (https://www.kratomscience.eu/kratom-legality/) if you scroll down to “Central America”, Kratom is not mentioned in the list of controlled substances in Honduras. However, caution is always advisable.

  4. kendell clark

    I wonder why there was no mention of kratom tablets, capsules or chewables, such as gummies? I’ve seen capsules all over the place, but they’re jsut powder put into caps. Kratom tablets I’ve seen a few places, but they’re usually extracts. No chewables that I’ve ever seen, maybe they’re not common?

    1. Gerard Galofre

      Hi Kendell,

      Thanks for your comment.

      While there are many ways of taking Kratom, the most common ways are usually “toss and wash”, Kratom tea, mixing it with food, and Kratom capsules. We will make sure to update the information on this page to reflect other ways of taking it such as gummies or chewables.

  5. Marguerita Yale

    Your mission states “…committed to promoting the science behind kratom…” and yet you are refering to “strains” a term used to describe a genetic variant or subtype of a microorganism (e.g., virus or bacterium or fungus) not plants. This is an artificial contruct in this context, just as the use of the term “strain” with cannabis. It would be great if your organization did not promulgate the use of nonscientific terminology.

    1. Gerard Galofre

      Hello Marguerita,

      Thanks for your feedback on the use of the word “strain”. According to the Oxford Dictionary of English and the Cambridge dictionary, the word “strain” means the following in a Biological context: “a particular breed, stock, or variety of an animal or plant”. We do believe that in this context, where we are trying to explain things in a very simple way so that everyone has access to quality information, using the word strain is appropriate. This is not a scientific publication, we’re trying to give science-based information about Kratom, thus the use of user-friendly concepts such as “strain” feels correct.

  6. Judy Picciandra

    10 years ago I went cold turkey off Oxys, morphine, Xanax, Paxil, amiltryptiline, and antidepressants. All prescription.
    I realized I was going to die if I did not stop…20 years was enough for me, living from pill to pill, minute to minute, then, victimizing others to get my needs met. Regardless of the fear and pain for them.
    Well, I survived the withdrawal, my body is still recovering. BUT, the pain, anxiety, lack of sleep due to night pain waking me, and depression stayed, of course.
    Read about KRATOM today and, by gosh, I am going to try it. Nothing else has helped my scoliosis in spine and arthritis in my joints and fibromyalgia in every muscle!
    Putting all my “painful eggs” and hope in this KRATOM basket. Wish me well, y’all. I will be back and tell you how it went!
    TXsis ⭐️

Leave a Reply