What is Kratom?

History of Use

What is kratom? Let's begin with a brief bit on its background. Kratom has a longstanding history of use throughout its native east Asian countries of Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. These populations have utilized the leaves of the kratom tree as an alternative medicine for generations. Ironically, kratom is or was recently illegal in many of these individual countries.

In Thailand, it was illegal from 1943 until recently when Thailand decided to start overhauling its harsh drug laws. This was not a danger thing. The Thai Office of Narcotics Control Board acknowledged kratom as being less harmful than coffee. When it became illegal around mid 20th century, opium was a major export and revenue source for the Thai government. After many shops and regular users switched to kratom, laws were passed to protect the opium trade.

The leaf of the kratom tree is heavily used throughout Thailand in particular despite its old legal status. It is still very favored by manual workers and considered by many of the area’s Muslims to be a sort of alternative to alcohol. Overall, it is estimated that about 70% of the male population uses kratom in some form.

It is not considered to be a traditional drug in this region and is considered a way of life in many southern parts. Many Thai chew the raw leaves of the kratom plant, but those in the younger age group most commonly mix kratom powder with a liquid and drink it. This “toss and wash” method has made its way to the United States and is now mainstream.

Kratom has been traditionally used throughout Southeast Asia as a malaria treatment, in salves to treat rashes and other skin conditions, as a sleep aid, to regulate blood pressure, as a cough suppressant, to cure diarrhea, and to help laborers make it through long, strenuous workdays. Oh, and it is most often chosen as a reliever of chronic pain.

M.speciosa as a whole contains more than 40 compounds called alkaloids. Each type of kratom is comprised of a distinct alkaloid profile, which is responsible for the leaf’s many beneficial effects. The alkaloid profile is influenced by the growing conditions of the plant as well as the drying and curing processes that are done after the leaf has been cut. The major portion of the profile is comprised of indole alkaloids, which are bioactive compounds that elicit various pharmacological action.

Of the 40+ alkaloids that have been extracted from M. speciosa, mitragynine is the most abundant at approximately 66% of total alkaloid weight. This alkaloid is primarily responsible for much of the pain-relieving kratom effects as it is a partial mu-opioid receptor agonist. Its cousin, 7-hydroxymitragynine, may also be present and it is even stronger than mitragynine.

7-hydroxymitragynine is the result of mitragynine oxidation, so it is often associated with kratom that has been sun dried for a while. One study found that roughly 8% of a leaf’s mitragynine can be converted to 7-hydroxymitragynine by the sun alone. All in all, there are at least six known alkaloids that act on the opioid receptors and a slew of others that are associated with the benefits you’ll read about in the next section.

What Does Kratom Do?

Regarding the alkaloids present inside the kratom leaf, here is a short snippet about them and the individual effects that each has been studied for (thank you, Kratom Science):

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

What does all this really mean in terms of kratom’s real-world effects on a human body? A person consuming kratom can expect to feel a degree of pain relief along with contentment, relaxation, and relief from anxiety. There is no such thing as a kratom “high,” as anyone who has actually used the leaf will attest to. Kratom's effects begin around 50 minutes from oral consumption for most and will last anywhere from three to four hours based on tolerance and other factors.

More research needs to be done before we fully understand all of kratom's individual substances and how they truly work in the body. However, it would be naive to deny the potential that this botanical has to offer new and effective alternative treatment options. Time will tell if researchers will be allowed to carry on their studies and discover all the possibilities.

Pain Relief

The analgesic (painkilling) effect of kratom is due to the interaction of alkaloids with opioid receptors present in the brain. The result is an enhanced release of enkephalins and endorphins, which may numb the pain receptors of the body. This characteristic is why so many fans of natural medicine have chosen kratom over prescription pain medications.

Our customers have reported applications such as mild to moderate relief from pain caused by fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fractures, and post-operative procedures.* Our products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure anything, but we have (and love to share) incredible customer testimonials crediting kratom with a renewed freedom and the ability to live life again.*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Blood Pressure

Rhynchophylline acts as a natural calcium channel blocker. These are typically prescription drugs that modulate the movement of calcium and potassium ions, ultimately resulting in reduced blood volume and therefore lower blood pressure. Mitraphylline is another alkaloid that helps to moderate blood pressure, though this one acts as a relaxant for vascular tissue like veins and arteries. More human studies must be done on both to draw any strong conclusions, but they've shown promise.

Stimulation and Focus

The stimulation that is produced by M. speciosa occurs when it partially acts on mu-opioid receptors in the brain. This activates the body and mind in such a manner that one receives a subjective boost in mental energy and focus. Additionally, some claim that the kratom leaf, when used in the right amounts, enhances cognitive ability.*

Note that, although some of kratom’s alkaloids act like central nervous system (CNS) stimulants (think coffee), others do the opposite. The net effect is not one seen with CNS stimulants – there are no jitters, no insomnia, and none of the potential negative effects on blood pressure.*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Blood Sugar and Diabetes

In a 2011 study, mitragynine was found to improve glucose uptake within muscle cells and to improve insulin function, meaning that there may be possible future uses for it in treating diabetes and pre-diabetes. Another study found that another kratom alkaloid, epicatechin, is capable of mimicking as well as promoting the production of insulin.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Bacterial and Viral Infections

Lab results have shown antimicrobial and antioxidant activity from Mitragyna speciosa and there have been scientific claims of antiviral activity as well.

Antioxidant Characteristics

Some research has shown that kratom leaves contain certain antioxidants that may help fight the growth of cancer cells. These antioxidants have similar effects to the ones found naturally in your own body, ones like superoxide dismutase and glutathione, which aid in preventing the formation of free radicals. You can think of free radicals sort of like rust on a piece of metal, in a very abstract sense.

A reduction in free radicals may be strongly correlated with better odds in staving off cancer and adding to one’s lifespan. Also being currently researched are several other health benefits of kratom leaves. Much remains to be learned about this special leaf. In December of 2018, the University of Florida received a $3.5 million grant to study the potential benefits of kratom’s alkaloids. We are awaiting UF’s findings with great anticipation.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Antipsychotic Properties

Not only does kratom not cause psychosis as the FDA would have you believe, it can actually help alleviate the symptoms and may serve as an alternative treatment for those wanting to avoid prescription antipsychotics. The leaf's alkaloids bind to the dopamine, serotonin, and alpha-2 adrenergic receptors the same way that some antipsychotic drugs do. On top of that, kratom shows promise as an anti-depressant as well.

Immunostimulation

The kratom leaf may help to improve the immune system by helping to rid the body of free radicals and harmful microbes. Particular alkaloids inside kratom may work as immunostimulants which improve the immune system and combat against infections. Some are also toxic to viruses.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Anti-inflammation

The major and primary alkaloid of kratom is mitragynine, which has been referred to as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. This property is similar to over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) in that it reduces pain, inflammation, swelling, and redness at the site of inflammation. Rhynchophylline (often found alongside mitragynine) shows these characteristics as well.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Mood Regulation

The alkaloids present in the leaves of the kratom plant are commonly used for their euphoric, anti-depressant, and anxiolytic effects.* Despite what you may have read in the media, kratom not only does not cause psychosis; it has actually been shown to act as an anti-psychotic.* This makes future research potential more alluring and the need to fight any kratom bans more critical.

As far as depression is concerned, kratom has shown our staff members that it can improve mood. With the right kratom, there is a noticeable euphoric boost that takes place about 45 minutes or so after consumption. This effect is again due to interactions with opiate receptors. This leads to a release of sympathetic neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

Kratom’s alkaloids may also be useful for other symptoms of anxiety-like insomnia, heart palpitations, sweating, and muscle cramps.* Time will tell what other cool things are discovered. We hope that society is allowed to see what other great things can come from mitragyna speciosa.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Dependence, Side Effects, and Safety

Common Side Effects

The most common side effect of consuming too much kratom is nausea. This is dose dependent and can be fairly severe. The only thing that mitigates it is time, so it is advisable to try kratom at a moderate dose if you have not tried that specific type before. Constipation is another possible side effect as kratom slows down gastrointestinal transit time.

Some people claim that kratom can produce dry mouth, so be sure to watch your fluid intake as a general health rule just in case. Tolerance and even slight withdrawal symptoms in extreme cases can become an issue with daily consumption, so we recommend taking breaks from time to time.

Can Kratom Kill?

As of the date of this writing, all available reports of fatal kratom overdoses have involved other, often multiple, drugs or subjects with histories of poor health. To date, there have been zero cases of death in which kratom was ascertained to be the sole cause (Suhaimi et al., 2016). One would become violently sick long before reaching such a level of toxicity in the blood. Contrary to what you may have heard, true experts on kratom have published peer-reviewed journal articles attesting to the insignificant, or small, risk profile of kratom.

The mortality rate associated with a substance is most often gauged by a measure called LD50. A substance’s LD50 is the amount it took to kill 50% of the test animals it was given to. Although the amount will fluctuate between individuals, a large enough sample size provides a reliable average.

In a 2019 study, Dr. Lauren Smith, et. al found the LD50 of mitragynine, kratom’s most abundant alkaloid, to be roughly 548 mg per kilogram of body weight in study rats. Due to differences in metabolism, surface area, and general physiology, one must covert this to a human equivalent dosage (HED). This is done by dividing the LD50 in mice by 12.3. This means that the LD50 in humans would be approximately 45 mg/kg.

A 150 lb person weights about 68 kilograms. At an HED LD50 of 45 mg per kilogram, this person would have to consume 3,060 mg of mitragynine to die. Keep in mind very high quality kratom contains mitragynine at about 2% or so, so each kilogram of kratom would yield roughly 20 grams of isolated mitragynine, or 20,000 mg.

Calculating this out, we see that a person would have to consume about 0.154 kg of kratom to reach a fatal dose. This is about 5.5 ounces of organic kratom powder, or just under 160 grams. Obviously, this is far more than any person could even fit inside their body, let alone tolerate after swallowing.

The Truth About the Dangers of Kratom

The following are some facts from real academics, scientists, doctors, and others qualified to speak on the subject, though this very small list is non-exhaustive:

  • Dr. JE Henningfield (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) and his associates performed an eight-factor analysis to argue against the FDA’s version of the addiction, abuse, and danger profiles of kratom
  • Kratom, unlike opioid medications, is associated with benefits in terms of occupational performance and social outcomes
  • At the levels that today’s kratom user consumes the leaf, kratom is not usually associated with negative health consequences
  • Kratom is about as addictive as caffeine, with the worst-case scenario involving mild dependence at most
  • Kratom’s predominantly oral consumption route contributes to its relative safety as well as its low abuse potential
  • Despite the false and embellished claims by certain agencies in the media, there appears to be no significant abuse of kratom in the United States
  • A study using 10 years of data from 63 hospitals, which documented 23,005 emergency room visits related to dietary supplements, featured zero cases involving kratom or mitragynine
  • The DEA no longer features kratom on its list of drug threats
  • When the FDA released its eight-factor analysis describing kratom as a harmful drug with significant abuse and dependence potential, it was quickly and fully discredited by a panel of 11 independent doctors with credibility in the field
  • After rescinding its recommendation that kratom be scheduled, the HHS warned the FDA in 2018 that kratom prohibition would lead to serious negative public health consequences. The FDA kept this fact hidden until it was exposed in January, 2021.

Hopefully this inspires you to get you started in your own research. You can refer to our list of additional resources for a more kratom facts.

Kratom Dosage

We are technically unable to recommend a specific dosage for our kratom products. That said, our general rule for ourselves is to try 2-3 grams when experimenting with a new batch of kratom. We generally dose two or three times during the day.

Remember, you can’t take it back if you consume too much and time is the only thing that will help with the nausea. Just like anything else in life, moderation is key. Kratom effects everyone differently, so you will probably need to adjust a bit before you find your perfect spot.

Potentiators

There are ways to get more out of your kratom experience. One is consuming grapefruit juice around 30-45 minutes before your kratom. The other one involves taking curcumin, the active component of turmeric. The former extends your experience a bit and the latter helps you get more from a given dose.

Grapefruit juice works because it inhibit kratom's metabolization, so its alkaloids will be around in the body for longer. Turmeric works because it blocks actions of the CYP3A4 enzyme, which is responsible for clearing kratom from the system. Without that enzyme being able to get rid of the kratom as quickly, there is a longer and more pronounced effect.

More CYP3A4 enzyme inhibitors include green tea, black pepper in large amounts, cinnamon, quercetin, tagament, and prozac. It is said that the synergy between these inhibitors and kratom does not seem to increase one's tolerance particularly fast.

Kratom Colors

Vein Color and Kratom Speed

The rainforest jungles of Southeast Asia and parts of Africa house an amazingly beneficial plant by the name of kratom (also known colloquially as thang, biak, ketom, thom, and/or kauam). Sometimes referred to by its scientific name, mitragyna speciosa (M. speciosa), kratom belongs to the Rubiaceae (coffee) family (Stolt et al. 2014) and is becoming increasingly popular as a natural way to relieve pain, decrease anxiety, and promote productivity*.

As with other plants, there are different sub-types. When one refers to specific strains of kratom, he is most often referring to the color of the powder and its supposed harvest location. Think of Green Malaysian or Red Vietnam. These days, the title of the country is simply a name of reference so users can recall their favorites. Interestingly enough, all kratom types are now grown almost exclusively in Borneo.

Although it is a misnomer, keep in mind that we do refer to strains throughout the website for familiarity reasons. Essentially, “strain” is really just a way to classify how a kratom powder was treated after its leaves were cut or a specific ratio of blending. That, and its environmental conditions and seasonal timing.

Although secondary attributes will vary between kratom samples, there are only two primary types of mitragyna speciosa leaves – horned and regular. Shape doesn't indicate makeup. These two can come from the same plant.

Each adult tree can yield around 20 kg of kratom powder annually. There are differences in color, but these differences may also be noticed throughout a single tree. What this means is you could have a red, white, yellow, and green yield all from the same tree.

Coloration of the end product is determined by the specifics of the drying or curing process used by the farmer and is also influenced by the seasonal timing of the harvest. Kratom contains plant chemicals called alkaloids, which are solely responsible for the effects felt from a particular strain. The composition of these alkaloids is dictated by the environmental conditions effecting the originating tree as well as everything that happens to the leaf once it is off the tree.

We will refer to kratom throughout this post as having particular vein colors because that is what most people are familiar with.

The three most popular types of kratom are referred to by the color of the final ground powder product: red vein, white vein, and green vein. Yellow and gold kratom has become relatively popular in recent history as well. These are usually fermented or are blends, which are normally used as a way to experience a more robust alkaloid profile than one would get by sticking to a single kratom color.

The general pain relieving properties of red, green, and white strains are the same for any type, though individual kratom strains can exhibit their own unique effects based on composition. Again, we can thank kratom’s more than 40 known alkaloids for the leaf’s wide array of beneficial effects. Each distinct kind of kratom varies, sometimes significantly, in composition.

Red Vein (Slow Kratom)

Red kratom, or slow kratom as it is commonly referred to, is most popular for its ability to relieve pain and encourage relaxation. It is also used as a tool for getting to sleep faster and sleeping better. Since the red color observed with this kind has to do with drying and curing techniques, particular batches may vary among samples and could appear any shade including green. This is not an indication of strength. Instead, a reddish color is usually associated with lower levels of mitragynine but higher levels of 7-hydroxymitragynine. Some of the most well-known red varieties include Red Bali, Red Maeng Da, and Red Thai.

White Vein (Fast Kratom)

White vein kratom is what is considered to be fast kratom. It is commonly used as a stimulant and is often recommended as an ideal substitute or addition to coffee. It may also be associated with mood regulation and mild euphoria. Just as with reds, the final color of white kratom is influenced by the procedures carried out during the farming process. Some farmers may add pieces of midribs and stems, which are often higher in mitragynine, to influence color as well.

Whites are cured in the absence of sunlight in cooler ambient temperatures. Because of this, they are usually higher in mitragynine and are thus more energetic than red types. Popular whites include White Maeng Da, White Borneo, and White Elephant.

Green Vein (In-between)

Green varieties of kratom lie somewhere in the middle of reds and whites in terms of reported effects. Typically they receive less direct sunlight and high humidity during a short drying phase and contain more nitrogen than other leaves. These leaves usually undergo fewer steps after harvesting to influence alkaloid content in a certain way. Commonly used green vein kratom names are Green Borneo, Green Sunda, and Maeng Da Sulawesi.

Yellow Kratom and Blends (Varies)

Yellow kratom leaves do exist in nature and can be potentially found on any tree. It is even possible to have red, green, and yellow all on the same leaf. Though yellow leaves may be a sign of uneven nutrient uptake by the host tree, where kratom powder’s yellow comes from is extended oxidation by sunlight.

Yellows are used for an entire spectrum of purposes based on their individual chemical makeups. Blends are of course a mixture of any two or more types of kratom and are usually specified in the name or product description. Our best-selling yellows and blends are Yellow Thai, Tri-blend Maeng Da Bali, and White Batak.

Notable Kratom Strains

Red Varieties

Red kratom gets its color from exposure to light, humidity, and heat during the drying/curing process. Red Maeng Da and Red Bali are two of the most purchased red strains available. The former is often considered the most balanced of the pain-relieving kinds. It provides an ideal balance of alkaloids while remaining relatively high in mitragynine, the main pain-relieving alkaloid inside the kratom leaf.

Red Bali is said to be fairly sedative so it is frequently used by people who want help falling asleep. This can often be attributed to a higher concentration of 7-hydroxymitragynine in the leaf, which comes from the sun drying process used by Indonesian farmers.

White Strains

When it comes to white kratom, two very popular kinds are White Borneo and White Maeng Da. White Borneo is said to aid with energy production and to yield anti-depressant characteristics while the name Maeng Da is usually reserved for the strongest kratom overall. This is again due to high levels of mitragynine and other alkaloids that are primed with without a lot of sun exposure.

The energy production may also be due to higher levels of the alkaloid, akuammigine, which promotes the production of adrenaline. More studies of akuammigine need to be carried out before we fully understand its potential. White kratom is the result of a dark, less hot and humid cure. This causes less oxidation to take place from mitragynine into 7-OH-mitragynine so there is more of the former, which is commonly associated with stimulation at low to moderate dosages.

Green Types of Kratom

When most people think of green kratom they are probably thinking of Super Green or Green Maeng Da. These two strains are quite similar in that they both provide high levels of mitragynine, an indole alkaloid responsible for the plant’s analgesic effects. Both are used by those looking for energy, focus, and increased production.

Green kratom is green because the leaves get exposure to heat, humidity, and a bit of light. This leaves them higher in chlorophyll and allows them to cure with less alkaloid oxidation and therefore undergo less conversion from mitragynine to 7-hydroxymitragynine. Since greens are higher in mitragynine, there is a tendency for them to be more energetic than reds but more sedating than whites.

Yellow Strains

Notable yellow kratom includes Yellow Thai and Yellow Bentuangie among some other creatively named kinds. Yellow Thai is said to be great for energy and focus while Bentuangie may be more sedating than other strains. Some people choose to mix the two for a combination of energy and pain relief.

Both of these are traditionally a bit lower in mitragynine but higher in 7-hydroxymitragynine, a barely-present but very potent indole alkaloid like its cousin. In fact, 7-OH-mitragynine is over five to 10 times stronger than mitragynine. The amount present is a result of oxidation during the curing process. Some farmers also implement fermentation bags to help reach the desired color.

Kratom Blends

Kratom blends are a great way to sample the best of each individual ingredient at once. Some blends we sell often include:

Of course you don’t have to stay limited to what pre-mixed blends you can find online. Get creative!

What Does Kratom Do?

Some things that kratom is used for, as well as some things that kratom is currently being investigated for, are:

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

How to Take Kratom

Kratom can be consumed orally a variety of ways. It most often comes in the form of a dried, finely-ground powder that is commonly taken directly by mouth then quickly followed by a large amount of liquid in a process referred to popularly as “toss-and-wash.” Others like to brew kratom tea. Kats Botanicals has a nice write-up on some different recipes.

A more potent drinkable form results from creating red bubble kratom. This recipe is based off the principle of alkaloid extraction and is designed to get the most possible plant chemicals out of a batch of kratom. Another form of extraction results in kratom resin, which can be extremely potent compared to the same amount of kratom leaf as the non-essential plant particles are filtered out during the process.

The taste of kratom is very unique and is not for everyone. For those averse to the taste, kratom capsules are an extremely practical method of consumption. Our capsules are size “00” and each contains 500 mg of kratom. Some websites also sell pressed kratom tablets, though these will still leave a kratom taste in the mouth and throat if one gets stuck.

Where to Buy Kratom

Your choice of kratom vendor influences your experience. First and foremost, you must be sure that your vendor will not deliver adulterated or contaminated products. Adulteration has been a problem in the past and some vendors have even resorted to mixing their kratom with controlled substances.

Heavy metals, salmonella, listeria, and other pathogens should also be a concern, so it is advisable to go with someone who tests their products before marketing them. A good vendor will have lab results available upon request.

At Socratic Solutions, we test our batches with two different ISO-certified laboratories. We are all about repeat business, not one-time sales, so it is in our best interest to only serve products that we choose to put in our own bodies. It’s not just the right thing to do, it is also the reason why we have such a high customer retention rate.

Many people want to know whether they should simply purchase kratom from their local shop rather than order it over the internet. The same rules from above apply here as well. Purchasing kratom on the internet allows buyers to shop around for the best value, easily access customer reviews to get a general feel for how a company operates, and to have the product delivered right to their doorstep.

Worth mentioning is that shop prices are generally much higher in-store. Finally, most shop kratom that we have tested has been weak relative to what we normally stock, though there may be some exceptions out there. Ultimately, one of the most desirable traits in a vendor is consistency.

When dealing with online vendors, remember that we must always keep up with the competition in terms of product quality and service to our customers. This is a highly competitive industry and a single misstep can cause a company to lose its overall viability. This is less of an issue for a brick-and-mortar vendor whose only competition are other random "smoke shops" or gas stations in the area, which are all inherently overpriced and offer poorer quality kratom.