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The ‘Kratom’ Craze: A Glimpse into Alternative Medicine

Kratom leaves found in Southeast Asia.
Kratom leaves found in Southeast Asia.

Kratom, also referred to as Mitragyna Speciosa, is an organic drug used for medicinal and recreational purposes. It stems from a deciduous tree located in Southeast Asia. The leaves are often used to make tea, but users of the drug also crush the leaves into powder, or smoke them.

Kratom is legal in the United States and is used for psychoactive effects. When consumed at low doses, kratom works as a stimulant. When taken in higher doses, the drug works as a sedative that creates a ‘dreamlike’ effect that many people crave.

In Asia, the fresh leaves are broken down and used to help aid in many illnesses, including diarrhea. People will also chew the leaves to help with pain relief, boost energy, alleviate anxiety and depression, and help with the withdrawals from opiate drugs.

According to an article on, kratom users swear by the drug’s medicinal properties; stating that it’s safer, and more effective than painkillers like Vicodin and morphine.

However, since kratom does exhibit opioid-like effects, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has added kratom to its ‘Drugs and Chemicals of Concern’ list, which may indicate that the DEA will eventually try to ban the drug in the U.S.

A 1988 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, found that two of the more than 25 naturally occurring alkaloids found in kratom leaves ⎯ mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine ⎯ exhibit opiate-like effects in animals.

Researchers found that these two compounds act merely as opiate receptors, and in a much less severe way than drugs like morphine, which can be highly addictive.

As it stands, kratom is legal in the U.S. and can easily be purchased online in capsules or powders at such websites like

So, is kratom safe and effective, or is it merely a death sentence waiting to happen?

You be the judge.

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