Have you ever heard of kratom? If you haven’t, you’re missing out on a powerful plant that has tons of mind-and-mood-boosting properties. And if you have, you’ve probably never heard about the nootropic benefits of kratom before.
While it’s usually not thought of as a nootropic, many users find that kratom has several nootropic properties. Improved mood, increased motivation and focus, reduced anxiety, and overall cognitive enhancement are just some of the benefits that kratom users report.
In this post, we’re gonna look at the benefits of this amazing plant, typical dosages, potential side effects, where to buy, and the controversy surrounding its legal status. First, though, let’s take an in-depth look at what kratom is.
What is kratom?
Kratom (usually pronounced krA-tum) is a plant that’s native to southeast Asia. The scientific name for this evergreen tree is mitragyna speciosa and it belongs to the same family as the coffee plant. It has been used all over the world for centuries by many different cultures. Most commonly, kratom is used for its mood-boosting and anxiety-reducing properties, its ability to significantly help with opioid withdrawal, as a mild stimulant, and to help with chronic pain.
It’s only been over the past 10 years or so that kratom has become popular in the United States. Thousands and thousands of Americans use this amazing plant to manage chronic pain, decrease anxiety, improve mood, get off dangerous prescription and illicit drugs, and for its ability to provide an energy boost.
Kratom can be consumed in a variety of ways. Some of the more common ways it’s consumed are in capsules, as kratom tea, or in powder form. The plant has a very strong taste, one that many people find unpleasant. Because of this, the powder is rarely consumed on its on. Kratom powder is often mixed into a drink to mask the taste. Orange juice, Sunny Delight, and eggnog are among some of the most popular choices.
For most people, kratom has a mildly stimulating, mood-boosting and anxiety-reducing effect, on par with a tall, strong cup of coffee. But for others – especially those with chronic pain or problems with prescription and illegal opioids – it has been an absolute game changer. For many, kratom has been a “miracle plant.”
Kratom for chronic pain and opioid dependence
Kratom works – at least in part – by binding with some of the same receptors in the brain that prescription painkillers and our own bodies’ natural painkillers, endorphins, bind to.5 But kratom binds to them in a slightly different (yet highly significant) way than opioids do. While things like heroin, morphine, oxycodone (Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and methadone are full opioid agonists, mitragynine (one of the active alkaloids in kratom) is only a partial agonist.
Kratom Leaf (Mitragyna Speciosa)
To put it simply, kratom affects the brain in ways that are similar to prescription painkillers, but it does so differently and to a much lesser degree. As a partial opioid agonist, kratom doesn’t cause the extreme euphoria, severe respiratory depression (that can results in death), or other serious side effects that prescription and illegal opioids are known for. It does, however, still have all the pain-relieving, mood-boosting, and anxiety-reducing effects of full agonists.
Unlike heroin and prescription painkillers, not a single death has been reported from kratom use alone. Prescription painkillers are responsible for thousands of deaths every year. In 2015 alone, 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses, the majority of them from prescription painkillers. That averages out to roughly 91 deaths per day. Kratom, by itself, has caused zero deaths, total.
Because of all this, kratom has helped thousands of people to get off heroin and prescription painkillers. It’s been shown to significantly reduce or eliminate withdrawal and drastically reduce cravings, but with far fewer side effects than things like methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone).
Kratom as a nootropic
In recent years, some people have been using kratom as a nootropic. At lower doses (1-3 grams), most users find that kratom has a stimulating effect. Higher doses usually work better for pain management and opioid dependence, but lower doses often increase energy, motivation, and focus, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.
Kratom has actually been used as a nootropic for centuries in southeast Asia. Farmers would chew on the leaves to reduce fatigue and increase productivity. Sound familiar? Those are nootropic qualities.
Fast forward to more modern times and kratom is being used all around the world for its ability to increase productivity and motivation, reduce anxiety and fatigue, and improve mood. When used only a few times a week, it is generally considered to be very safe and makes a great addition to any nootropic arsenal.
- Improved mood
- Increased energy
- Increased motivation
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced fatigue
- Increased productivity
- Strengthened immune system
- Reduction in chronic pain
- Manage opioid dependence/reduce cravings
Potential kratom side effects
As you can see, kratom is a wonderful plant with tons of potential benefits. But like anything, it also comes with some potential side effects.
The most important thing to know before using kratom is that, with prolonged daily use, tolerance and dependence may occur over time. There are numerous reports of people taking multiple doses of kratom everyday for months and having no side effects or withdrawal. However, some people experience mild withdrawal, comparable to caffeine withdrawal, when they stop taking kratom.
There is an obvious way to avoid this: don’t take kratom every day. Most people find that kratom works best when taken no more than a few times per week. This prevents your body and brain from getting used to it (tolerance), keeping it effective and eliminating the possibility of experiencing any withdrawal symptoms.
Some people who have a history of substance abuse and addiction may have trouble controlling their kratom use. If that’s you and you’ve been clean and sober for a long time, you might want to stay away from kratom. However, there are thousands of reports of people trading their active addictions from prescription-and-illegal drugs to kratom – and very happily.
Most people who take kratom do not experience any serious side effects. However, some people have experienced the following: nausea, upset stomach, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, loss of appetite, constipation, and itching.
As stated above, it’s a good idea to only use kratom a few times a week at most. Not only will this help you avoid tolerance and dependence issues, it will ensure that kratom stays effective for you. Many people report a reduction in effectiveness with frequent use.
The exception to this is if you’re using kratom for pain management or to get off a prescription-or-illegal opioid. If you’re using it for one of these reasons, then kratom is usually taken 3-5 times a day, with 3-6 hours between doses. But for nootropic purposes, kratom should be taken no more than a few times a week.
A good place to start for most people is around 2 grams of kratom powder. For most types of kratom, this would be a little less than 1 teaspoon. Many users find that this dose provides all the benefits mentioned above and never need to increase it.
Others find that they need a higher dose to notice any effects. If you don’t achieve the desired results with 2 grams, try increasing the dose by 1 gram each time until you experience the benefits you’re looking for.
Some users take very high doses of kratom (10+ grams per dose), but the vast majority of people who use it take anywhere from 2-5 grams per dose. Like most other substances, the more you increase your dosage, the more side effects you’re likely to experience.
If you decide to try kratom, you’ll notice that it comes in different strains – red, white, and green strains. As a plant, each strain has slightly different effects. Generally, white strains are the most stimulating, red are the most sedating and best for pain relief, and green strains are somewhere in the middle.
In my opinion, the difference in effects from one strain to the next is barely noticeable. Many people, however, find that there is a significant difference between them. You’ll have to try a few and see for yourself.
You can clearly see that kratom is an awesome plant with a wide variety of benefits. And it has saved countless lives by providing a much-safer alternative to illegal opioids and prescription painkillers. Personally, I absolutely love kratom and so do the thousands of other Americans it’s helped. But you know who doesn’t love kratom? The pharmaceutical industry.
Drug companies hate kratom because it is taking money out of their greedy little pockets. Kratom is unquestionably safer than prescription opioids and thousands of people have used it to get off these potentially deadly painkillers. That’s money that the drugs companies aren’t getting and they’re not happy about it.
So, the drug companies did what they do best: lobbied the government (indirectly giving them a ridiculous amount of money), asking them to make kratom illegal. On August 31, 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it was going to ban kratom, making it a schedule I substance (same as cannabis, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine).
We may have been fooled in the past. But to most Americans, it’s no secret that the War on Drugs has been an absolute failure and the DEA is largely controlled by the pharmaceutical industry. They’ve become a joke – a remnant of a failed war that’s destroyed countless lives. The DEA is the same agency that insists cannabis has no medical value whatsoever. It’s hard to take them seriously and it’s obvious that they’re nothing more than a puppet for big pharma, the prison industry, and other interests. And I’m no conspiracy theorist: it’s all been documented for years.
Wild kratom plant
When I said that thousands of lives have been positively affected by kratom, I wasn’t kidding. Within a week of the DEA’s announcement to ban kratom, a petition to keep it legal gained more than 100,000 signatures. They were expecting the ban to go largely unnoticed – but it didn’t. After massive public outcry, the DEA canceled their intent to ban kratom – for now.
As of right now, kratom is still legal in the United States. However, drug companies are now lobbying both the DEA and the FDA trying to get it banned. Kratom supporters aren’t taking it lying down, though. There is a massive effort underway to keep this wonderful plant legal. The American Kratom Association (AKA) has been tirelessly fighting to prevent it from being banned across the U.S.
Unfortunately, politicians in a few states have banned kratom as the result of misinformation and fearmongering. In Indiana, for example, kratom is banned because of a bill that incorrectly identifies it as a synthetic drug. In reality, as you know, it’s a natural plant and not a man-made substance. Fortunately, the AKA is fighting to legalize kratom in Indiana and the few other states where it’s been banned. You can check the legal status of kratom in your state on the American Kratom Association website.
Where to buy kratom
The best place to buy kratom is from trusted online vendors. There are a number of companies to choose from, but my personal favorite is Noo-tropics.eu. They have great products, fast shipping, reasonable prices, and wonderful customer service.
Kratom can also be found in some vape stores, head shops, gas stations, and other brick-and-mortar locations. However, I’d strongly advise against buying it at any of these kinds of stores for two reasons: First, kratom sold in stores like these is always drastically overpriced. And second, some types of kratom that are sold in stores contain dangerous chemicals.
You want to make sure that what you’re buying is just plain kratom. Some online stores sell kratom extracts that are much more powerful than the regular ground plant. These extracts, while certainly effective, come with a much higher risk of side effects. It’s strongly advised to only use plain kratom.
There are several reputable kratom vendors online but, again, my personal favorite is Kratom Spot. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with them over the years and so has just about everyone I’ve talked to. If you decide that you’d like to try kratom, make sure to check out Kratom Spot. They have an incredible selection of kratom products.