Over the past year, I have been very casually experimenting with Kratom, and in this post, I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences on using this fascinating plant. You can listen to the first part of my kratom adventures in this episode of Coffee Talk and in this episode of the Mom and Dad are Stoned podcast.
- Kratom has a complicated legal status. Though federally legal, some states and towns have taken extra steps to restrict access to or sales of kratom. Please see this site for an exhaustive list of the legal status of kratom across all 50 states.
- I am not a regular user of kratom. I have only used it a handful of times over the past eight months, so I am no expert. This post talks about my personal experiences using kratom and is not meant to serve as any sort of medical advice. Obviously, do your own research, consult a licensed medical professional, and check your local laws before using kratom.
- Some sources claim kratom is an addictive substance that one builds a tolerance to and may experience withdrawals from. I choose to use it sparingly until more is known.
- Kratom has been the subject of some pretty harsh anti-drug propaganda. Like cannabis, there are virtually no studies on kratom’s effects or safety, and a simple google search can bring up a lot of fear-mongering style reporting that may not be trustworthy. On the flip side, most of the positive information you’ll find on kratom online is purely anecdotal, like this post. Because there are a lot of politically and financially interested sources online, always use caution and common sense when researching kratom.
What is Kratom?
Natural kratom comes from the Mitragyna Speciosa, a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family, native to Southeast Asia. It’s leaves have been used for centuries as an herbal supplement in traditional medicines. Kratom is not a drug, an opiate, or a synthetic substance. It is a naturally occurring mu-opioid receptor agonist, and is commonly associated with pain management and overcoming opioid withdrawal.
Though Kratom contains no opiates, it does bind to the same receptor sites in the brain, just like chocolate, coffee, and breastmilk. Some sources say that Kratom’s potential for abuse and dependence is no greater than other widely used unscheduled substances, like St John’s Wort. Other sources say that kratom is highly addictive and comes with its own withdrawals when stopping use.
Kratom has been widely used to treat addiction and withdrawal from opiates. It is also used to reduce fatigue, relieve pain, and manage anxiety and depression. Users report that small amounts produce increased energy and euphoria. Higher amounts have sedative and pain-relieving qualities.
Different Strains for Different Pains
Like cannabis, there are different strains of the kratom plant, and they have varying effects on the user. White strains tend to have more energizing and euphoric effects. Popular strains in this category include White Maeng Da and White Borneo. Red strains have a more sedating effect as well as strong analgesic properties and are more commonly used for pain management. Green strains are considered more middle of the road and are used for both energy and pain management during the day. I use only white and green strains as I’m not treating pain and I dislike feeling sedated.
My Experiences with Kratom
I first learned about kratom from a friend who uses it for a variety of serious conditions like pain, depression, and post-traumatic stress. I wanted to give it a try because I am always looking for tools to help manage my Major Depressive Disorder. Before I began using kratom I did a lot of research, reading sources both for and against kratom use. I also joined a few kratom subreddits to hear more anecdotal accounts on kratom use, as well as which vendors are trusted within the community.
Figuring out the proper dose for my desired effect has not been easy, but I’ve learned that 3-5 grams on an empty stomach is a great dose for me. I stick to a small to moderate dose for a stimulating effect rather than a sedating one. I use it when I have a lot of time to get work done, and the energy that kratom provides me is on another level.
What I’ve enjoyed
Kratom kicks in right away and washes over me in waves of productivity and creativity. I feel instantly uplifted and positive, but not in the foggy sense that cannabis can bring on. It is the absolute best sensation for getting stuff done, which is really the main reason I use it.
Kratom is truly a great tool for kicking me out of a depressive funk and getting me to see reality, in a clear and focused way. The right dose has me feeling incredibly positive and ready to do my best and see the best in everything. I get chatty and euphoric and can lose myself in long excited conversations with my spouse when using kratom.
My favorite thing about kratom is the sheer amount of tangible work I get done when using it. Kratom gets me more creatively engaged and single-mindedly focused than the most potent of sativas. I can write paragraph after paragraph without losing focus. I can spend an entire day working and balancing the hecticness of life, without slowing down or feeling any afternoon slump in mood. The effects last several hours and in that time I feel as if my focus and energy are limitless.
My Challenges with Kratom
Finding the right dose of kratom was quite challenging in the beginning. I found myself taking too much, resulting in napping for hours- the opposite of what I wanted to experience! I have also had one occasion where I took too much and was extremely nauseous for a long forty-five minutes. I am careful to document every kratom experience, including how much I took, how much I had eaten that day, and how it made me feel. This is how I’ve been able to settle on smaller doses on an empty stomach as being the right amount for me.
It took me a while to realize that eating before I took kratom, and using cannabis while on kratom greatly diminished the experience. I always take it on an empty stomach and abstain from using cannabis for the first couple of hours.
My biggest issue with kratom is how little is scientifically known about using it. As with our beloved cannabis, kratom’s ongoing legality issues put it in shaky territory when it comes to having qualified unbiased research to turn to. I tend to stand with the patients and advocates fighting on kratom’s behalf, but ultimately more research is needed.
Finding Quality Kratom
Kratom should primarily be purchased online rather than locally. Local places selling kratom tend to be headshops, gas stations, and smoke shops, with uninformed staff and questionable products. Stick to researching vendors online by reading forums dedicated to kratom, and looking for quality reviews. You can buy kratom online directly from the sources website, presuming kratom is legal where you live. The American Kratom Association has a Good Manufacturing Practice Standards Program and lists qualifying vendors right on their website.
The kratom shown in this post is from Mount Kratom, who sponsored this post and sent me several strains to try. I used their Super Wild Green Borneo, White Maeng Da, and their Red Vein Bali capsules and had an excellent experience with all three. Mount Kratom’s website is easy to navigate and full of great information. Learn more about them and their products over at mountkratom.com.