What Is Kratom?
Kratom is a tree indigenous to Southeast Asia and comes from the Rubiaceae family, a cousin of the coffee bean.
Kratom is known by many names: Krathom, Kakaum, Ithang, Kratum, Thom (thailand), Biak-Biak and Ketum (Malaysia), Mambog (Philippines). Different regions across Southeastern Asia have created specific descriptions for this plant but the chemistry remains the same.
This plant has been used for centuries, however since Kratom use was not documented until the 1880’s we do not have an actual defined date. It is evident through the documentation and research that this plant has been used long before it was discovered by Western travelers.
The indigenous peoples of Southeast Asia were said to harvest the leaves and either chew the leaves or brew them into a tea to extract the potency. It has been reported that the people indigenous to this area chewed the leaves to combat fatigue and improve their work productivity.
As people have become more educated about controlling their health through natural alternatives, Kratom has become very popular in Western culture.
Since its first documentation in the 1880’s, consumers have not strayed too far from the original procedures the natives used to consume this medicinal plant. The leaves are consumed in a variety of ways, however a Kratom extract (tincture) seems to be the most efficient method.
What...Exactly...Does It Do?
Opioid agonists create serious side effects for the user. However there are compounds called atypical opioids which create the same symptoms without the serious side effects. Kratom is an atypical opioid. Studies have shown over the years that Kratom is used for relief all across the United States.
Mitragynine is the molecule which gives Kratom the effects on the brain. While it does target the same receptors in the brain as other opiates, it does so in a different manner compared to classical drugs. The process makes it less invasive than typical opiates. It does so through two different signaling patterns. The first of which is it acts as a biased signal which activates the G-protein pathway and avoids turning on the arresting pathway. Kratom is only able to turn on the G-protein pathway, not the more dangerous arresting pathway signals like other classical drugs which leads to side effects. In a sense, Kratom does partially activate the same receptors as other opiates but studies have shown as a partial agonist it does not carry the full effect of a full agonist opioid.
Wade Harman is quoted extensively in this blog.
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