Botanicals have played a significant role in human health and wellness throughout history. Defined as being derived from plants, botanicals come from leaves, roots, bark, seeds, and even flowers. Some are celebrated for their scents, like lavender used in soaps and perfumes, while others, such as ginger, are loved for their herbal healing abilities. However, certain botanicals have held popularity in specific regions of the world while only recently gaining popularity worldwide. One example of that is kratom, a botanical indigenous to Southeast Asia. There, it carries a long reputation in the health and wellness sector, but it did not become very popular in the United States until recently.
What Is Kratom?
Kratom is a botanical product made from the kratom tree, or Mitragyna speciosa. Native to Southeast Asia, its usage as an herbal remedy dates back to the 19th century. Historically, farmers would chew the kratom leaves because they believed it would make them work harder, feel more energetic, and soothe day-to-day aches and pains. Nowadays, kratom is most commonly sold as a powder, capsule, tincture, or extract after the leaves are harvested and dried. It’s become popular to mix kratom powder with tea or lemonade, rather than chew the actual leaves of the kratom tree.
In addition to the various forms of kratom, there are also different strains. Depending on the maturity level of the kratom leaves at the time of harvesting, the resulting botanical can have a variety of reported effects. As the kratom tree matures, the vein colors on the leaves change. The youngest kratom leaves are known as white-vein kratom, while the most mature leaves are called red-vein kratom. In the middle stages, there’s green-vein kratom, which shares properties with both mature and young kratom leaves. Red-vein kratom is often reported to ease discomfort as well as maintain a calm mind. People who use white-vein kratom describe it as energizing and supporting an uplifted mood.
Kratom is not federally regulated in the United States, so there is no government body that ensures quality and safety of kratom products. As a result, it’s smart to do your due diligence when you buy kratom online and make sure it is a reputable retailer. As a botanical, kratom can display a variety of plant-related issues, such as mold and bacteria or high concentrations of heavy metals. It’s important for kratom products to be lab-tested by an independent third-party to discard any kratom batches containing these issues. Moreover, since kratom is usually imported from Southeast Asia, it’s also a good idea to check that the retailer ethically harvests the kratom leaves. Trustworthy companies will proudly share their lab results and harvesting practices with their customers.
Why Is Kratom Beneficial?
Kratom has a long history with wellness. There is a plethora of positive, user-reported effects of kratom ranging from eased discomfort, soothed aches, a more relaxed mind and body, and feeling more energized. Not only that, but there are actually quite a few studies that provide evidence of kratom’s many benefits. One such study, conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia and University of Rochester, found that kratom uplifted the mood and was calming among many of the study’s participants.
Unfortunately, due to its recent uptick in popularity over only the last decade, kratom is not as studied as other botanicals that are native to North America. Instead, there’s much more information on kratom found where it is native and has centuries of historical usage: Southeast Asia. Researchers across universities in Malaysia, Germany, and the United States conducted a study to investigate kratom use motives among regular kratom users in Malaysia. The researchers found that kratom is valued for mood enhancement, relief from discomfort, and even as a folk remedy for certain ailments.
Aside from reported effects, kratom is also beneficial as an alternative to common practices that aren’t particularly healthy. For example, Drive Research conducted a survey that showed three out of four Americans drink coffee every day, with nearly half of all Americans drinking as much as three to five cups of coffee per day. However, even in moderate amounts, the caffeine in coffee can result in increased blood pressure, respiratory rate, and anxiety. This is because caffeine raises your cortisol levels, also nicknamed the “stress hormone.” White vein kratom users often purchase it as a coffee alternative, claiming that it energizes them. Kratom’s effects are caused by alkaloids, organic compounds within plants, and it does not contain any caffeine.
Purchasing kratom can be tricky—it’s not as commonly found as coffee. However, you can find kratom online from a reputable retailer. If you’re looking for a new botanical to add to your wellness regimen, it is worth giving kratom a try.