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Kratom capsules powder and leaves

The Rise of Kratom: Exploring the Benefits of this Natural Herb

The use of kratom has exploded in recent years as people across the world are becoming enlightened to its potential therapeutic and recreational benefits, which have long been known to the communities in which kratom originates. Research shows that nearly 2 million people in the US are thought to be using Kratom each year for a variety of reasons.
Hayley Smith
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What is kratom and where does it come from?

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical evergreen tree native to South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and has traditionally been used in these regions for centuries as a medicine, stimulant and for ritual practices.

The leaves of the tree create stimulant, analgesic or opiate-like effects, depending on the dose, the strain, and how it is consumed.

Traditionally, indigenous communities from South East Asian countries chew leaves directly from the source or brew them into a tea. 

In the west, kratom is readily available in a wide range of delivery methods that many people find more convenient (and tasty) to consume, including; powder, capsules, extracts, teas, shots, and even gummies.

Kratom capsules powder and leaves

Why are people using kratom?

There are so many different kratom strains available that people are now able to select particular strains to suit their desired effects or outcomes, whether it be for pain management, mental health, drug rehabilitation, reaching energy and fitness goals, as well as enhancing social events and bonds. 

Pain relief

Kratom has long been used as a traditional medicine by South East Asian natives to reduce pain associated with injuries, hard physical labor and chronic conditions.More recently, the western world has started to adopt kratom as a natural alternative to prescription medicines for pain relief.  

Evidence shows that kratom is likely an effective treatment for any pain, regardless of the underlying cause, because pain signals are blocked prior to them being processed by the brain. 

The alkaloids in kratom react with the opioid receptors in the brain and body which make kratom a highly effective pain management tool used to treat many conditions including; back pain, arthritis and fibromyalgia. 

Kratom also has anti-inflammatory properties which can help to alleviate aches, muscle tension, and reduce swelling. Studies have shown that as well as providing pain relief, kratom can also help to boost mood, decrease anxiety and create a sense of relaxation, all of which contribute to better pain management and your ability to get on with daily tasks. 

Mental Health

Many people have also started to take their mental health into their own hands and are opting for kratom as a natural self-management tool in place of typically prescribed medicines.

The alkaloids and compounds found in kratom can increase the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain resulting in a more relaxed state and positive outlook. 

Many users of kratom say that it helps to reduce their stress levels and improve their day-to-day life overall. 

There is also scientific evidence that suggests kratom can relieve symptoms associated with anxiety, PTSD, panic disorders, depression and digestive problems. While higher doses of kratom can help reduce anxiety-related symptoms and bring a sense of calm to the user, lower doses have been said to help with social anxiety as it can provide a stimulant-like boost, and improve sociability. More research into the field is needed but early evidence suggests that kratom may one day be used in the world of medicine as an antipsychotic and antidepressant. 

Fitness 

Kratom has been used by indigenous South East Asian communities for generations to improve their stamina, helping people working hard labor and farming jobs which require a lot of physical exertion. In the west, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to use kratom to help them reach their short-term and long-term fitness goals. 

Kratom can enhance stamina and boost energy, which makes it perfect as a pre-workout supplement. Certain strains can improve overall endurance and focus when working out, enabling people to workout harder and longer to achieve better results. 

Many users also report that kratom helps get them to the gym when they are feeling tempted to give their workout a miss as it improves clarity of mind and motivation. Kratom’s pain-relieving properties also means that some people are opting to take kratom as a post-workout supplement to relieve aches and pains in the muscles and joints. 

Recreational use

Kratom has long been used in ritual and ceremony to create unity and harmony within indigenous communities. It is widely believed to help people to transcend the physical body and gain greater understanding and empathy for the world around them. 

So, it’s no surprise that kratom is more widely becoming a substance of choice for recreational use at parties and social gatherings due to its ability to release inhibitions and anxious feelings, boost energy and confidence, and create a relaxed social atmosphere. 

People find that taking small doses of kratom at parties can make them more talkative and improve their ability to connect with others. The social experience is enhanced in general because people are able to let down the barriers which prevent them from relaxing and being present in the moment. It also opens up the potential to understand others and connect in meaningful ways.

Its stimulating effects mean that it can keep up much-needed stamina at festivals, parties and raves but without the negative side-effects of other stimulants.

As well as the benefits that can be enjoyed in social settings, kratom does not cause hangovers or comedowns like many other recreational substances – this is another factor that is making it highly popular among party-goers. 

Drug rehabilitation and recovery

Interest in kratom has also spiked within the field of drug rehabilitation and recovery. Kratom’s interaction with opioid receptors make it a natural way to help people get through opioid or benzodiazepine withdrawal and through the recovery process. 

Kratom has been used for treating opiate dependency in countries like Malaysia and Thailand for many years, helping to wean individuals who are dependent on opiates and experiencing withdrawal. 

This is considered a safe alternative to methadone or buprenorphine which can lead to further reliance and cause other health complications. Kratom is also a great harm-reduction tool due to the increased release of dopamine which boosts mood generally, enabling people to better manage their addictions and daily life. 

A natural alternative to western medicine and enhancer of social experience

We have seen the ways in which kratom transcends mere recreational use and is beneficial in managing both physical and mental health conditions, enhancing workout and exercise regimes, managing addiction, and forming social bonds. 

More and more people are seeking alternative, natural remedies in order to manage and enhance their lives and kratom is quickly gaining popularity in the west within these arenas. With further research and experimentation on the horizon, greater understanding and benefits are sure to be uncovered in the coming years. 

Works Cited

Carter, Alan, and Carolyn Farnsworth. “What is the best kratom for anxiety? Research and FAQs.” Medical News Today, 8 September 2022, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/best-kratom-for-anxiety#what-is-anxiety. Accessed 6 March 2024.

Eastlack, Steven. “Kratom—Pharmacology, Clinical Implications, and Outlook: A Comprehensive Review.” NCBI, 28 January 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7203303/. Accessed 6 March 2024.

Health Research. YouTube: Home, 9 November 2017, https://widecellsgroup.com/health-research/kratom-use-in-historical-rituals/. Accessed 6 March 2024.

Johnson, Lindsey. “Focus: Plant-based Medicine and Pharmacology: The Potential for Kratom as an Antidepressant and Antipsychotic.” NCBI, 29 June 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7309668/. Accessed 6 March 2024.

Palamar, Joseph J. “Purchase Subscribe Save Share Reprints Request Past-Year Kratom Use in the U.S.: Estimates From a Nationally Representative Sample.” 6 January 2023, https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(21)00162-8/abstract. Accessed 6 March 2024.

Prevete, Elisabeth. “Exploring the use of Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) via the YouTube data tool: A novel netnographic analysis Author links open overlay panel.” YouTube: Home, 9 November 2017, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2667118221000052?via%3Dihub. Accessed 6 March 2024.

Swogger, Marc T. “Experiences of Kratom Users: A Qualitative Analysis.” YouTube: Home, 9 November 2017, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02791072.2015.1096434. Accessed 6 March 2024.

Veltri, Charles, and Oliver Grundmann. “Current perspectives on the impact of Kratom use.” YouTube: Home, 9 November 2017, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.2147/SAR.S164261. Accessed 6 March 2024.

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