Centuries ago, civilizations throughout Southeast Asia began celebrating the wellness benefits of the Mitragyna speciosa tree, which is responsible for kratom. Known as an ethnobotanical supplement, kratom leaves dot the dense, tropical landscapes. Countries like Thailand are especially known for producing high-quality kratom strains, high in the plant’s signature alkaloids: mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
The plant has grown more popular over time, reaching consumers across the United States. Pair this with a number of positive and negative kratom experiences from lawmakers, scientists, and doctors, and we have enough information to classify a variety of kratom experiences. These experiences can also tell us side effects to look out for when using kratom (and how to overcome those side effects), which products work best for what purpose, and so on.
For example, understanding things like kratom users often take the plant for chronic pain can connect those suffering from the same ailment to effective treatment options. Furthermore, scientists and medical researchers can learn who is using kratom and for what purpose, to create safe and effective kratom formulations and recommendations based on consumer trends.
Keep in mind that kratom is still fairly new to the research game. Dr. Peter Grinspoon, MD, recommended in Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing that kratom be further researched. “If it does have benefits for either addiction [treatment] or chronic pain, we should know, and it is critical that we better define the risks of using kratom, so that people are more accurately informed.”
Dr. Grinspoon is referring to a common observation by medical professionals: many kratom users once suffered from drug and alcohol dependence. More research is needed to fully understand this phenomenon and how kratom plays a role in such ailments.
Believe it or not, we are at the onset of the kratom industry. For kratom users, the experience matters, allowing us to understand who is using kratom and for what reasons. It’s also important to review both positive and negative kratom experiences to equip ourselves for the best kratom regimens around! Before that, we must first take a trip back in time to the first kratom experiences.
Kratom Use Throughout History
Kratom use has been documented in Southeast Asia for at least 150 years. The kratom experience was much different than in Western nations. The Mitragyna speciosa tree plays a sociocultural and medicinal role in Southeast Asian society.
According to BioMed Research International, who traced the ethnobotanical roots of the Mitragyan speciosa tree:
“Traditionally, in certain regions of Southeast Asia, the chopped fresh or dried leaves of the [kratom] tree are chewed or made into tea by local manual laborers to combat fatigue and improve work productivity. In addition, kratom preparations have been used for centuries during socio-religious ceremonies and to treat various medical conditions…Considering its variety of uses, it could be speculated that the term [Mitragyna] derives from the “Mithraic cults,” seen as a source of spiritual transcendence for thousands of years.”
Here, we see that Southeast Asian populations have a societal connection to kratom experiences. In many regions, kratom trees grow in backyard farms. Locals pick the leaves directly and chew them, claiming they receive an energy boost. This is similar to the effects experienced by white vein kratom users!
Modern Kratom Experiences
It is estimated that there are between 10 and 15 million kratom users in the United States alone. People use it in their morning coffee, take it as a pre-workout supplement, even use it to counter the side effects from a variety of ailments.
That said, the US does not have 150 years of documented kratom experiences. American kratom only began around the 1980s, introduced by Southeast Asian migrants. Since, it has become available in new product formulations, including:
According to a 2017 survey, which gathered data from 8,049 kratom users, the typical American kratom user is middle-aged (31 to 50 years old) and makes middle income (above $35,000). Furthermore, kratom is commonly used by those who experience chronic pain (68% of survey respondents) and emotional or mental health conditions (66% of survey respondents). About 40% of participants reported discussing kratom experiences with their doctor.
We can gather from this information that over half of users have similar kratom experiences. American kratom users typically use the ethnobotanical supplement for chronic pain, mental health, and general wellness.
This same survey also tells us about the less-savory kratom experiences. For example, researchers note that dose-dependent side effects occur at higher doses of kratom consumption. The most commonly experienced side effects include stomach ache, nausea, and constipation.
NOTE: Achieving a positive kratom experience is quite easy! The plant is known to have relatively few side effects. In fact, side effects are only commonly reported at higher doses. Always be sure to track how much kratom you ingest throughout the day. Don’t overdo it! Overdosing on kratom is a quick way to induce stomach pain and other side effects. We also recommend that you drink plenty of water while dosing kratom! This can fight off the side effects of dehydration, often amplified after taking too much kratom.
Medical & Scientific Kratom Experiences
Medical and scientific professionals have very different kratom experiences as well. If you didn’t already know, professional kratom experiences include studying kratom’s alkaloids and determining what, exactly, this compound can do for us. So what can we learn from these medical and scientific kratom experiences?
We already mentioned Dr. Peter Grinspoon, an associate of Harvard Medical School—He believes that kratom should be further studied so that we can fully understand the benefits of the plant and the potential side effects to be aware of. Plus, Dr. Grinspoon isn’t alone.
A 2018 systematic review of all available kratom literature, scientific analysis, and studies (covering a 57-year period) yielded promising results. According to lead author Dr. Marc T Swogger, Ph.D.: “Findings indicate kratom’s potential as a harm reduction tool…Kratom also enhances mood and relieves anxiety among many users. For many, kratom’s negative mental health effects—primarily withdrawal symptoms—appear to be mild.”
Like Grinspoon, Dr. Marc Swogger agrees that kratom has a high potential for use as a wellness-boosting compound with few side effects after studying the relevant medical and scientific literature. Furthermore, Dr. Swogger believes we should learn more about these side effects. Doing so would allow us to develop comprehensive mitigation techniques, allowing kratom users the opportunity to use their favorite kratom products without ANY side effects. How cool!
What About Scientists & Kratom?
Until recently, there wasn’t a lot of funding for kratom studies. Various governmental bodies attempted to ban the substance before giving in to scientific approaches (which we’ll discuss in a moment). Luckily, scientific momentum picked up speed in 2018 when the University of Florida received a 2-year, $3.5 million research grant to examine kratom formulations.
According to Lance McMahon, Ph.D., a professor, and researcher of pharmacodynamics at the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy, “I’m actually happy to know that the [United States’] National Institutes of Health is supportive of very carefully controlled research studies to generate the data that can then be used to make decisions [about kratom].” From the experience of Dr. Lance McMahon and other scientists, kratom needs to be studied in a laboratory setting. Much more funding and opportunities are needed to classify the kratom experience.
This is a common theme among the scientific community: We need more! More kratom funding, more available laboratories to study kratom, and more evidence we can only get through proper clinical trials.
The experiences of kratom users are important to understand which products work best for which reasons. However, until scientists and doctors can validate many of the claims surrounding kratom (which we’re beginning to see today), the scientific experience leaves a lot to be desired.
Political Kratom Experiences
Now that we’ve discussed the kratom experiences of users, medical professionals, and scientists, what do politicians have to say about the matters? As you may have guessed, the US government is NOT a fan of kratom. In fact, both the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have independently attempted to ban the substance in various ways.
At one point, the DEA went so far as announcing their intentions to classify kratom as a Schedule I substance. Other Schedule I substances include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. In the eyes of the law, Schedule I substances have NO medical benefit whatsoever and a high potential for abuse. As a result, the DEA received immense backlash when placing kratom products in Schedule I classification.
Government agencies are still battling kratom legislation. However, organizations like the American Kratom Association (AKA) are getting involved to stop government oversight in the kratom industry. The AKA has already helped pass countless legislation that keeps kratom legal and available to those benefiting from the plant. But until the political kratom experience enters positive terrain (likely aided by future scientific discoveries and medical advice), the political kratom experience shall remain skeptical, at best.
How to Document Your Own Kratom Experiences
What are your experiences with kratom? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you. And if you’re interested in sharing your own kratom experiences, there are many options!
Reddit is a “social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website.” The popular r/Kratom subreddit houses more than 125,000 passionate kratom users. This is a great place to get involved with the kratom community and share your experiences! In fact, you can easily find useful tips and tricks, user accounts, and general kratom advice.
We also urge all kratom advocates to get involved with the American Kratom Association in their state! The AKA has many opportunities to advocate for comprehensive kratom laws. Keeping kratom legal will allow us to study its alkaloids, developing more concrete evidence for kratom’s potential as a medicinal supplement.
Your experience matters! Together, we make up the kratom community. Share how kratom has influenced your life and contribute to a safer, more informed industry.