Kratom, Latin Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree growing mainly in Southeast Asia. It grows to a height of 30 meters and its most important part is the leaves. These contain psychoactive alkaloids that have made it popular throughout the world. It belongs to the family Rubiaceae, where also belongs very well known coffee. The tree is very difficult to grow, so we can only find it in certain regions of the world where the climate is suitable for it. The best-known varieties are from the Indonesian islands, Malaysia and Thailand.
Kratom has a rich history, especially in Asia. It has been used since time immemorial especially as an effective stimulant. There is a legend in Thailand about a father who preferred to marry his daughter to a man who used Kratom rather than a man who smoked cannabis. It is believed that after Kratom, one has a much greater desire to work. This is evidenced by his popularity with the original Thai peasants, who regularly drunk Kratom to replenish energy and overcome fatigue while working the land. Kratom also found its place in classical Asian medicine, where it was used as a cure for ailments of all kinds – from influenza, intestinal problems to the alleviation of physical pain.
Despite its long tradition, Kratom was first described in the 19th century by botanist Pietro Wellem Korthas, who became a passionate investigator of this tree, dedicated his entire life to it and described it with the Latin term Mitragyna speciosa.
In the same century, however, because of the Opium Wars in Asia, Kratom was almost extinct. The tree was slowly becoming more popular than opium, and the government that benefited from the sale of opium did not like it. And so there was a difficult period for Kratom, during which many plantations were felled and burned. Consequently, Kratom was even outlawed. In 2013, however, this provision was canceled, cultivation was resumed and Kratom today enjoys a greater boom than ever.
According to scientific studies, more than two dozen alkaloids have been discovered in Kratom’s leaves. Among the most important are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. The first of these appears in much larger proportions – up to 66% – and acts as a stimulant. The second alkaloid is present in only 2%, but it is many times more effective and acts as an analgesic. The particular ratio of these alkaloids, however, depends on the variety of Kratom.