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What Is Kratom? Properties, Legal Status, and Effects of Kratom

A cup of tea draped with kratom leaves and a bulb

Kratom has been used in traditional and folk medicine for centuries. However, kratom’s “status quo” is changing as it grows in popularity here in the West. Today, it’s primarily used as a homeopathic remedy, but there’s much more to know about kratom’s origins, uses, and more.

In this article, we cover everything that you need to know about kratom’s origins, uses, and more, giving new users the knowledge to get started in the wide world of kratom!

Kratom’s Origins

Kratom (scientific name “Mitragyna speciosa”) is a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family. It is native to Southeast Asia — specifically Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea — though the common name “kratom” comes from Thailand.

The Mitragyna speciosa plant itself can grow to a height of about 82 ft. The trunk generally grows straight and can grow to about 3 feet in diameter. The tree also has smooth, gray outer bark. Its leaves — known as “kratom leaves” — are dark green and glossy, with pronounced veins running across their body. Kratom leaves are about 5.5 to 8 inches long and about 3 to 5 inches wide when fully open. These leaves are oval in shape, narrowing to a point at one end.

How Kratom Products Are Made

Kratom products are made exclusively from the leaves of the kratom tree. These leaves are harvested at one of three stages of the tree’s maturation cycle, when the leaves’ veins have turned the desired color (white, green, or red).

From there, the leaves are dried, de-veined, and, for most products, ground into a fine powder.

Following this, different types of kratom products are handled differently. Kratom powders, for instance, simply need to be measured and bagged in our sterile clean rooms. For kratom capsules, we use cutting-edge technology to precisely measure the proper dose of kratom powder, then encapsulate them in our cleanroom facilities.

Regardless of the type of kratom product, one other crucial step is testing. We send out each and every batch of our kratom products for comprehensive laboratory testing by third-party labs. These tests verify the potency of the batch and test for the presence of any contaminants. If a batch ever fails to meet our industry-leading standards, we won’t use it.

What Sorts of Kratom Products Are Available?

You can find many kratom products, but the two most common are:

  1. Kratom Powder
  2. Kratom Capsules

These kratom products can be ordered online. At Kratom Spot, you’ll also find more than just kratom powder and capsules. We’re dedicated to providing the very best kratom products in a wide variety of forms, including:

What Is Kratom Used For?

The FDA has not approved kratom for medicinal use. However, users treat kratom like an herbal supplement and have ascribed a wide range of applications to the plant.

But kratom also comes in many different forms, including a wide variety of products and, crucially, different strains of kratom. Each is useful for different sets of purposes, and choosing the right kratom strain is one of the most important steps in ensuring that you’ll have a positive kratom experience.

The Different Types of Kratom Powder

Mitragyna speciosa is known for its three primary color strains:

Red vein kratom products are generally known for their relaxation effects, while white vein kratom products are generally known for uplifting, energizing effects. But what about green vein kratom? This third kratom strain is known to be a hybrid of red vein and white vein, meaning you’ll receive middle-of-the-road effects reminiscent of both red and white vein kratom.

You can also purchase your kratom by regional variety. Different regions are known for producing different types of kratom, varying in potency, strength, color, and more. These regional varieties include:

For more information on what each kratom strain has to offer, be sure to take a look at our in-depth guide to the different kratom strains, which has information on both color and regional varieties.

Kratom Effects on the Body: What Does Kratom Do?

Kratom is known to offer physiological and homeopathic effects. Kratom leaves naturally contain a plethora of alkaloid compounds, the natural botanical compounds responsible for kratom’s effects. Of these, the two most important kratom alkaloids are,:

  • Mitragynine
  • 7-Hydroxymitragynine

These alkaloids interact with receptors found in the nervous system, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The NIDA has also noted that, in small doses, users have reported “increased energy, sociability, and alertness.”

But kratom’s effects are varied. Based on dosage and choice of strain, different users will have very different kratom experiences.

Is Kratom Legal?

Kratom and the Mitragyna speciosa plant are legal throughout most of the United States. Kratom can be purchased in head shops or online. It is not regulated at the federal level, though the FDA has publicly voiced concerns about the drug’s risks.

There are 44 recorded deaths associated with kratom use, usually when used in combination with other drugs or when the kratom was mixed with preservatives, its purity compromised. At Kratom Spot, we guarantee that all of our kratom products are third-party lab tested prior to sale. This is so we can guarantee our products are free from chemicals, fillers, preservatives, and other potentially harmful byproducts.

States and counties are allowed to ban kratom at their own discretion. Kratom’s legality is in a constant state of flux, with rules and regulations changing quickly and frequently.

Kratom Ban in the United States

Kratom is banned in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Vermont, Rhode Island, Washington D.C., and Ohio. Even in states where kratom is legal, some local governments have enacted their own kratom bans. In San Diego, California, for instance, the city has banned kratom despite the fact that it is legal throughout the rest of the state.

The DEA announced in 2016 that it intended to make kratom a Schedule 1 substance, but it did not end up scheduling kratom at all. Why? Because kratom users showed an outpouring of support for kratom after the DEA’s announcement.

Kratom Bans Outside of the United States

Kratom laws vary wildly throughout the world. Many countries have banned kratom, but these laws are shifting, and several historical bans have recently been lifted.

The ASEAN, a group of 10 Southeast Asian states including Thailand and Malaysia, where kratom is native, long prohibited kratom in traditional medicines and health supplements traded across ASEAN countries.

Thailand itself had previously imposed a complete ban on kratom manufacture and trade. However, Thailand’s government has recently decriminalized kratom, striking a major victory for the worldwide kratom community.

In Canada, kratom can not be marketed for ingestion but can be marketed for other uses, such as burning as incense.

Mitragyna speciosa is controlled in Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Sweden and is prohibited in the UK. In Ireland, it is included in the highest schedule of drugs.

It is also controlled in Australia and New Zealand.

Wherever you are in the world, it’s important to research your local jurisdiction’s kratom laws before purchasing or using kratom, lest you break some serious laws by accident.

Is Kratom Safe?

Kratom users need to have pure, high-quality products that contain no additives, preservatives, or fillers. Impure or contaminated kratom, or combining kratom with other substances, can lead to unintended effects. Use in moderation, and discuss dosages and how to brew kratom tea with your doctor.

There are also some potential side effects, including nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination, loss of appetite, seizures, hallucinations, and even psychosis.

Due to its unclear legal status, kratom studies are still in their infancy, and existing studies have also not definitively proven that kratom has any medical properties or uses. Choosing to use kratom is a personal decision that can only be made at your discretion. Potential users should be sure to talk with their doctors before doing so. Make sure it will not interact negatively with any other drugs or prescription medication you are currently taking.