The People’s Kratom

Published by Alex Schumacher on

The opioid epidemic in America continues to spread and nothing seems to resolve its advance. Whether opioids remain illegal, people get their hands on smack one way or another. As people develop addictions to opioids, researchers and agricultural investors fight fire with kratom. 

Kratom is a tree that grows in Southeast Asia. It comes in many strains that differ in intensity or effects. Natives of the region use the kratom plant as a medical solution for a multitude of ailments. 

The leaf has similar effects to that of the coffee leaf. Small doses of kratom give effects mirroring a stimulant, like caffeine in coffee sans the jitters of chugging a whole pot. In this case, kratom is reminiscent of the coca leaf in how highlanders of South America use the leaf to remedy altitude sickness. 

A single teaspoon dose of white kratom in powder form. Judith Y. Kim | Avant-Youth

The Center of Disease Control (CDC) pushes against the commercial sale and use of kratom, claiming that the substance correlates with the deaths of multiple victims of unintentional overdose. The CDC examines toxicology reports of all drug related deaths. In certain reports, when the CDC find traces of kratom in the bloodstream, they point to kratom as the leading cause of death — although kratom is correlated with the death, it is not the direct causation.

Mixing drugs endangers the user. Drugs, at the end of the day, are toxic to the body despite how good they feel. When the body takes on multiple drugs that attack different systems, everything can shut down.

Imagine you’re a corn farmer and a plant virus infected half of your harvest. You burn the infected corn to stop the spread of the virus, but only enough to control the fire and not damage the field more than necessary. Throwing another drug into the mix is like pouring gasoline on the rest of the crops. You destroy the crops and the field and everything dies; you burned all the popcorn.

The different strains of Kratom, as displayed inside Happy Hookah, a head shop. Judith Y. Kim | Avant-Youth
The capsule form of Maeng Da, a strain of Kratom.
Judith Y. Kim | Avant-Youth

Akin to weed, kratom comes in many different strains. Even though research on kratom is fairly limited, scientists and agriculturalists bred and isolated different genes of kratom to evoke and emphasize different effects. 

Since kratom has an array of effects, it can be used more efficiently for various ailments. Strains like Maeng Da are bred to accentuate the stimulating properties of kratom. They still have the other effects of kratom that relaxes users and relieve pain. The focus points in strains allow users to treat their ailments effectively and, ideally, in lower doses. 

"This would be Alex's cup," my editor, Judith Kim said.
Alex Schumacher | Avant-Youth

I sampled the Maeng Da strain in powder form. I chucked a teaspoon to a hot mug of water and added some honey to counter the god awful taste. The effects hit me subtly and gradually, mid-game of Monopoly. I noticed a clarity in thought and speech that boosted my energy. This stuff works.

Happy drugs like kratom make us feel good. The reward system in our brains craves attention that must be carefully moderated. Kratom has the potential to help many lives, and with sufficient research it can do so on a larger, more responsible scale.

But like any drug, it should always be respected–never abused.

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