Kratom is the common name for Mitragyna speciosa, a tropical evergreen native to the marshy jungles of Southeast Asia. It grows wild in central and southern Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and elsewhere in the Pacific Rim.
Known for its hanging clusters of deep yellow flowers and reaching up to 42 feet (13 meters) in height, kratom has numerous uses in folk medicine. Traditionally, the broad green leaves are plucked by hand and dried in the sun, to be brewed as a tea or pulverized and swallowed with water.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, kratom has increased in visibility around the world. Regular kratom users see it as an invaluable aid for mental and physical health, while others enjoy its dual recreational value as a stimulant or sedative-narcotic (depending on the dose).
How much kratom to take depends on your physiology, tolerance, and other factors. Chances are that as a newbie your tolerance is nil, but there may be a cross-tolerance effect with other opioids.
In any case, the recommended starting dose is one to two grams. If you’re sensitive, you’re probably better off starting with one gram. Capsules contain approximately 700mg, so you may need one to three for a starting dose.
On an empty stomach, kratom effects are noticeable from around the 15-20 minute mark, gradually building in intensity and peaking for two to four hours. Stronger doses may have a shorter onset.
Some kratom users get very thirsty during the onset, so it’s best to have water to hand. It’s also best to take kratom on an empty stomach. Any nausea that arises can be managed by keeping still until it passes. Swallowing kratom gradually can help too, however tempting it is to knock it back in one gulp to avoid the bitter taste.
Driving and other potentially dangerous activities should be avoided—even if you feel stimulated. The effects of kratom can change from stimulant to sedative without warning, so sometimes just turning on the stove could be risky.
New kratom users should start with a low dose, precisely weighed out on an accurate digital scale. The same goes for more experienced kratom users trying a new strain, due to the variability between them.
Most users take kratom for pain, anxiety, or some other specific condition, but it’s also considered a “plant teacher”—a tool for exploration and growth. Described by one kratom user as a “nurturing mirror,” it can gently draw attention to areas of personal and interpersonal dysfunction. These can be explored within the context of an emotionally honest, “entactogenic” high.
Some kratom users report that kratom can reduce social anxiety, and even improve sexual performance.
Liberated from the confines of everyday thought patterns, people also find greater appreciation for being alive.
There are no mainstream medical uses for kratom, but it shows great therapeutic potential.