The Medical Value of Kratom
Kratom is the ordinary name for Mitragyna Speciosa Korthals, a plant of the Rubiaceae family found in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia and Africa. The plant was first documented by Pieter Korthals, a Dutch colonial botanist, who gave the genus Mitragynas because the stigmas of the first trees he examined were similar to a bishop’s mitre.
The Asian species is indigenous to Southeast Asia and is mostly grown in the central and southern regions of Thailand. The African Mitragynas are often classified in a separate genus, Hallea, and usually found in swamps in the tropical rain forests. Most of the mitragynas species are arbore scent. Mitragyna Speciosa itself grows to the height of 50 feet, while some of the other species can reach heights of about 100 feet. The stem is usually erect and branching. The flowers are yellow. The genus is characterized by a globular flowering head, containing up to 120 florets each. The leaves have a dark glossy color, oval in shape and are evergreen. The leaves are constantly being shed and replaced; although there are some quasi-seasonal leaves shedding’s because of environmental conditions. In the dry season of the year, leaf shedding is heavier and new leaf growth is more plentiful in the rain season.
This plant is a heavy feeder and so requires very rich fertile soil. It prefers wet, humus-rich soils in a protected environment. It is drought sensitive and when grown outside its natural habitat, is sensitive to frost and leaf fall occurs with colder temperatures, at about 4 degrees C. Propagation is by fresh cuttings or very fresh seed, and there is a low strike rate because of a fungus which invades the xylem tissue. There is inadequate information about growing the plant. The cuttings and seeds are rare, and the cuttings when obtained are somewhat difficult to grow. However, once the plant is established, it is relatively hardy. As a result of the problem of getting cuttings to root, there is increasing experimentation and research with cloning. The main problems with cuttings are that they never shoot out roots or are attacked by fungus. Kratom can also be grown from seeds and seed can be purchased at vendors such as Kratomystic. However, germination rates low at 20-30% and it is very important that the seeds are fresh. When they germinate the seedlings can grow to an average height of 17 feet.
The Medical Research
Kratom has been used for centuries in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia for its medical benefits. Today, the health and medical world is waking up to the medical benefits of this wonder plant. Scientific groups and pharmaceutical companies in Europe, the United States, Japan and South East Asia are conducting studies on the composition and properties of kratom. The current medical benefits include:
Laboratory Studies indicate that methanol extracts of the leaves can protect against diarrheal and that the anti-diarrheal effect was not antagonized by naloxone.
- Anti-Depressant Effect and Alcohol Withdrawals:
Research indicates that extracts substantially inhibit alcohol induced withdrawal symptoms like head weaving, rearing and displacement. It also has anti-depressant activity which does not affect spontaneous motor activity.
- Sedating Effects:
Laboratory studies on mice indicate that kratom has sedative properties.
- Behavioral and Analgesic Activities:
Studies on behavioral and analgesic activities of the alkaloid and methanol extracts of this plant show that it has analgesic activity which partially acted on opioid receptors in the supra-spinal opioid system.
- Urine Alkaloid Markers:
Studies show that two main alkaloids of kratom composition can be used as urine markers in a simple urine extraction procedure for GC-MS analysis.
- Opioid Withdrawal :
In Malaysia, Kratom has been shown to manage drug withdrawal symptoms cheaply and without side effects.
- Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Nociceptive:
Laboratory studies on rats suggest that the methanol extract has potent anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Neuromuscular Blockade:
Research has shown that a methanol extract and Mitragynine impact neuromuscular junction and compound nerve action. The extract and the mitragynine blocked nerve amplitude, conduction, duration of compound nerve action potential.
Cognitive Behavioral Effects:
Laboratory Studies on mice show that the chronic administration of mitragyna can change the cognitive behavioral function.
These are just some of the medical benefits of kratom. Medical research and studies on the plant are likely to come up with many more medical uses of this wonder plant.