The Wonder Drug: Kratom
The US government adds another name to the list of banned drugs and people have already started calculating the setbacks which they have to bear the brunt of. This time the drug is Kratom.
Kratom also known as Mitragyna Speciosa is a plant native to mainly to South-East countries is famous for its medicinal properties and its popularity is on a surge ever since its medicinal perks have been evinced. Mitragyna Speciosa belongs to the same family as coffee i.e. Rubiaceae and is an indigenous tree to Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. It is also found in the tropical and sub-tropical swampy habitats of Africa and the rain forests of Asia.
Traditionally Kratom was used by labourers, peasants and farmers who really had to beaver away all day working in the fields to make both the ends meet. Consumption of Kratom increased their energy and capacity to work hard and help them take long days of work. Malaysia and Thailand used the leaves of Kratom for treating malaria, diarrhoea, intestinal infections, coughing and muscle pains. Its earliest use a substitute for opium is traced back in 1836 in Malaysia as a relatively cheap substance than opium to enhance daily output of the works jabbing away under scorching sun.
In southern parts of Thailand and northern parts of Malaysia, Kratom was not plied as drug-use; it was rather way of life deeply knitted with customs and traditions. In the nineteenth century Kratom was reported to replace morphine in the rehabilitation programmes for addicts. The effects of Kratom are mild and short-lived. Kratom works as an amazing analgesic, anti-depressant, euphoric and antipyretic substance. With easy access to prepare medicinal plants in Western countries, consumers have increasingly used Kratom as aid in opium withdrawal and chronic pain.
The magical properties of this medicinal plant are attributed to the presence of alkaloids. 25 alkaloids have been isolated and chemically characterised from Kratom till date and seasons and geographical regions decide the percentage of alkaloids in Kratom. The main alkaloid present in Kratom which is responsible for various physiological effects is mitragynine which is the most profuse alkaloid and comprises 66% of the net alkaloid mixture.
Kratom is consumed in a variety of ways, the crudest way being the munching of dried Kratom leaves. It can also be consumed as a tea or as a powder. Sweeteners like sugar are added to abate the bitter taste. It can also be made into syrup by boiling the powdered dry leaves of Kratom in water. The syrup when mixed with chopped leaves of palas palm forms pills which are called as madatin in Malaysia. Kratom does medicinal wonder when taken in moderate amounts but a heavy dosage might be sedating. It works as anti-inflammatory substance. The methonalic extract of Kratom impairs the development of paw oedema (which is caused by carrageenan) by restraining the action, synthesis and release of hyperalgesic mediators. Thus Kratom nips oedema in the bud which is a primary cause of inflammation. Tests conducted on rats showed that Kratom had the ability to reduce weight and suppressed intake of food and water. Also it was shown that Kratom preparations contributed to anti-diabetic effect as it augmented the rate of uptake of glucose and range of protein of glucose carriers.
Most importantly Kratom is being used as an effective pain-killer which is better than OTP substances to treat bouts of pain. Alkaloids like Mitragynine and 7-OH-mitragynine exhibit excellent painkilling property which engage in agonist activity at mu and delta opium receptors and put out the feeling of pain. For this purposes of painkilling and mood-lifting, Kratom has been used to give up opiates and pacify the symptoms that accompany withdrawal. It is also increasingly being used to treat depression and anxiety. Kratom can be used as no tropic component and thereby increases focus and memory by flattening the background noise and enhancing the ability to focus. Small doses of Kratom will lead to cocaine-like stimulation whereas higher doses will lead to morphine-like sedation and sleep inducing effects. As a sedative, Kratom dose makes a person insensitive to physical or emotional pain.
A person will be calm and composed and will feel pleasant in the surrounding ambience. There will be some itching and the person will perspire a bit. It will cause nauseating effects, but after relaxing a little the nausea will stop six hours. It may cause lowering of blood pressure and appetite and even boost immunity. Kratom is not addiction-causing and only a small proportion of the population complains about habit formation. If it is not used on a regular basis and only sporadic intake to heal pain is what is used for, then there is no need to be afraid of Kratom spree. The least Kratom can do is cause nausea but when it is mixed with other drugs it may even cause death.
The ban slated to be imposed on Kratom in USA earlier in 2016, became a highly debated topic in the world. In 1943, Thailand put controls on Kratom preparations and in 1979, Thai authorities wrote its name under the Thai Narcotics Act. This made illegal to buy Kratom Powder, possess and sell and import Kratom. Its’ use of legal in Malaysia until 2003, after which it was made illegal under Poison Act. People in Indonesia are permitted by law to cultivate and export Kratom to Europe, North America and Asia. Countries like Burma and Australia have placed them under their respective national narcotic laws. Drug Enforcement Administration of USA puts Kratom on its Drugs and Chemicals of Concern list, which signals that Kratom will eventually be banned in USA. As a result of which people will be prohibited to but Kratom powder, which is the most used form of consuming Kratom. In times when the tiff against opiod (which is killing many people) is going on, the decision to put ban on this wonder drug seems absurd because Kratom is safe and risk-free to be used in short term.