Kratom Teas – Recent discoveries, risks & benefits.
Kratom, has gained favor in the U.S. as a legal high over the past decade. Almost two metric tons of kratom are imported from Southeast Asia monthly. Kratom is an herbal medicine from the leaves of the tropical tree Mitragyna speciosa. A typical dose generally consists of 3-5 grams with over 15 million users in the U.S.
However, Southeast Asians have safely consumed it by chewing the kratom leaves or brewing kratom leaves into tea for centuries. Fresh leaves are picked each day and, within minutes, placed in boiling water for a couple of hours. The resultant “tea” is ladled out and generally placed into plastic bottles or bags for use throughout the day. Most traditional users prepare three glasses spaced out during the day by diluting each glass with an equal amount of water. Freshly harvested kratom leaves had no detectable amounts of 7-hydroxymitragynine.
Kratom is also a recreational drink there, much like coffee or tea. People also have used it traditionally to avoid withdrawal symptoms when opium users would exhaust their supply. This fueled its use in the U.S., with individuals seeking alternative methods to treat their pain or wean themselves from opioids.
In Southeast Asia, traditionally prepared kratom is from freshly harvested leaves, whereas kratom in the U.S. is from dried leaf material. Kratom changes in chemical composition as it dries and ages.
Scientific reports of commercial kratom products available in the U.S., have found that the amount of 7-hydroxymitragynine can vary. There is evidence that the plant does not produce 7-hydroxymitragynine but, rather, that the alkaloid is generated after leaves are harvested and dried.
All commercial kratom products in the U.S. are made from dried leaf material or are concentrated extracts of the dried leaf material. In contrast, purified mitragynine has demonstrated little to no abuse potential. In other words, mitragynine seems to be reducing the desire to ingest addictive opioids.
Kratom tea does have potential to serve as a treatment for opioid withdrawal and possibly to help wean addicts.
The risk of kratom addiction is due to the inferior quality and amount of the product ingested. Science and further research is leading the way to these answers and in creating the balance.
As always it is advisable to consult with your doctor prior to use of any of these products.