Few substances have caused as much controversy as kratom. Some claim it works wonders, but others believe it should be banned. Due to kratom’s novelty in the Western world, it’s unlikely this debate will end anytime soon. With increased scientific data and public awareness campaigns, hopefully, more people can make an informed decision before trying kratom for themselves.
Anyone interested in learning more about kratom should read through this piece. Below, we’ll go over what kratom is, how it can be used, and its current legal status. By the end of this piece, you should have a good idea of whether kratom is right for your needs.
Despite its recent appearance on Western store shelves, kratom isn’t a new substance that some mad scientist concocted in a lab. Scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, the kratom plant has been cultivated and used for centuries in Southeast Asia.
Interestingly, this plant has a genetic link with the coffee bean. As you’d expect, kratom could have quite a stimulating effect on the mind when taken in low doses. In higher amounts, however, kratom could induce sleepiness.
We don’t know precisely how kratom works, but scientists believe the plant’s psychoactive effects are due to roughly 40 naturally occurring alkaloids. The two most prominent of these compounds include mitragynine and 7-HMG. Interestingly, these alkaloids have a strong affinity for our brain’s natural opioid receptors. Future research into kratom’s physiological effects will most likely focus on these two chemicals and how they might be able to help patients who rely on stronger opioids kick the habit.
Generally speaking, kratom is legal in most Western nations…for now. As the drug’s popularity increases, it’s likely drug enforcement agencies could step in to regulate the manufacture and sale of kratom. Anyone interested in kratom consumption should keep a close eye on the drug’s current legal status.
Below, we’ll go over how kratom is treated in a few major Western nations. If you have any specific questions about your area, however, be sure to contact a local attorney.
Ever since 2016, kratom has been listed on the UK’s Psychoactive Substances Act as a banned substance. That means it’s technically illegal to buy, sell, or ship kratom in the UK. There are, however, many UK kratom vendors in operation. Also, UK law only says the possession of kratom with intent to sell is illegal. The legality of simple kratom possession is a bit of a legal grey area.
Ireland, on the other hand, takes a tougher stance against kratom. The drug is currently listed as a Schedule I drug throughout the Emerald Isle. This means it’s illegal to possess or distribute kratom.
The European Union allows member states to make their own laws regarding kratom. So, you’ll encounter varying degrees of kratom restrictions depending on where you live in continental Europe.
Currently, European countries that consider kratom a controlled substance are as follows:
In some countries (e.g. Denmark and Finland) kratom is illegal for recreational use, but you could obtain a medicinal dose with a doctor’s note. Most other EU states allow for the sale and use of kratom.
Thanks to a vocal pushback from the kratom advocacy community, the US Drug Enforcement Agency has yet to list kratom as a Schedule I drug. This means kratom is federally legal for use throughout the USA. Despite this status, a few American states, counties, and cities have enacted laws banning the use of kratom.
In Canada, kratom exists in a kind of legal limbo. While the herb is widely available throughout the nation, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it’s illegal to buy, sell, or possess kratom with the intent to ingest. Of course, it’s pretty difficult to enforce this law, especially when simple kratom possession appears to be legal.
Kratom exists in many forms, but it’s most widely sold as a powder or a tincture. There are also a few vendors who sell kratom stalks or leaves to consumers, but these are mostly found in traditional Asian markets or herbalist shops. Let’s explore a few of the most common ways you can take kratom.
A hot cup of kratom tea is one of the easiest, safest, and most common ways to take this herb. All you need to do is measure the amount of kratom powder you want, place the powder in a strainer, and run boiling water through. After simmering for a few minutes, simply sip your delightful kratom tea!
A major pro for using this method is that the boiling water gets rid of potential impurities in kratom powder. Besides getting rid of impurities, hot kratom tea is one of the mildest ways to take this herb. For this reason, kratom tea is often recommended to people who are new to the kratom community.
The main drawback to using kratom tea is its extremely bitter taste. For those who can’t stand the taste but want to take advantage of kratom tea’s benefits, consider adding healthy sweeteners like manuka honey or stevia.
One of the most convenient ways to get your kratom on-the-go is to purchase the herb in capsule form. All you have to do is swallow your recommended dose of kratom pills and get on with your day.
In addition to convenience, kratom capsules are an excellent way to determine your ideal dosage. Start with a low dose and gradually work your way up until you notice a positive effect. If you start seeing detrimental effects, then take a break for one day and only resume taking kratom at a lower level.
On the negative side, kratom capsules might contain impurities that would’ve otherwise been boiled out using the tea method. Always choose a high-quality kratom brand when looking for capsules. For those who don’t mind getting messy, you could even make your own capsules with empty veggie caps and kratom powder.
People who are concerned about kratom absorption will be most interested in liquid tinctures. The most common way to take a kratom tincture (or any tincture for that matter) is to squirt a few drops under your tongue and wait a few seconds before swallowing. Taking any tincture sublingually bypasses the digestive tract, which means the herb gets absorbed directly into your bloodstream.
Obviously, the major pro for using a kratom tincture is you will experience a potent effect with very little product. Arguably, it’s easier to dose kratom tinctures versus capsules because of the tincture’s high absorption rate.
Just like kratom tea, however, a negative feature of using tinctures is the harsh taste. There’s no way to mask the bitter flavor of kratom tincture, so you’ll have to get used to it if you want to use this method. All tinctures also come with the risk of solvent residue, so it’s essential to purchase from a premier company.
Yes, it is possible to eat whole kratom leaves. It might not be all that pleasant, but people in Southeast Asia have been doing this for centuries. There’s no evidence that eating kratom leaves is more effective than other methods, but some users claim it delivers the most potent analgesic effects.
You might’ve already guessed some of the drawbacks associated with eating raw kratom leaves. First off, they’re quite tricky to find outside of Asian markets. Second, munching on kratom leaves is, well, an “acquired taste.” Third, it’s tough to dose the amount of kratom you’re getting based solely on the leaves.
A major issue in the kratom community is quality control. Because kratom exists in a legal limbo in most areas, there’s no standardized procedure for the manufacture of kratom. This means some products online or on store shelves might have residue from other toxic compounds. Indeed, many kratom advocates believe the majority of negative effects ascribed to kratom might actually be due to secondary compounds.
As with any other substance, it pays to take your time and carefully review any kratom products you’re interested in. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the manufacturer for further clarification before purchasing.
Even the fiercest of kratom critics have to admit this herb has some potential uses. As more studies reveal the exact properties of kratom’s alkaloids, we’ll get a better sense of how to most effectively dose this herb to take advantage of its supposed stimulating, sedating, and analgesic properties. If you’re interested in trying kratom, then you should go with a trusted product and start with a low dose to see how your body reacts.