Kratom, also known as Mitragyna speciosa is a tree found in Southeast Asia. The leaves of this plant have been consumed in the South Asian countries since as long as 500 years to produce effects of improved productivity and also to boost energy.

Kratom has gained increasing popularity as a health supplement for its ability to fight depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain and fatigue.

Unlike other health supplements, maeng da kratom is not an opiate, it is not addictive or dangerous when used carefully and in monitored powder doses; in fact there are several studies which prove that kratom has positive medical benefits.

Kratom is generally consumed in the form of leaves by chewing them or as a tea or it is also available in the form of powder or capsules.

Kratom is known to have both stimulant as well as sedative effects on the brain. Kratom contains a compound called mitragynine which is known to have effects similar to morphine and codeine.

Natural kratom benefits:

At low doses, kratom produces stimulant effects which can be felt within 10 minutes and these can last for up to 60 minutes.

Some of the well known natural benefits of a mild to moderate maeng da kratom powder dose are as follows:

· Increases energy and sociability

· Increased alertness

· Relief from Anxiety

· Relief from Depression – since kratom was able to significantly reduce cortisol levels in the blood

· Suppression or relief from cough

· Anti-diarrheal effects

· Anti-hypertensive (to reduce high blood pressure)

· Analgesic effect – Often used to substitute opioid analgesics

· Reduction in signs and symptoms of opiate withdrawal

· Relieves fatigue and muscle aches – works as a muscle relaxant

· Effects against diabetes mellitus

· Some effect against cancer cells

· For weight loss

A major advantage of kratom was proved through a study which concluded that kratom can be easily removed from circulation without the need of haemo-dialysis in cases of toxicity.

Side effects of kratom:

In spite of the wide number of advantages, kratom has been banned for sale, distribution and use in certain parts of the world due to its potential side effects, health hazards and known toxic effect such as:

· Nausea and vomiting

· Numbness of the tongue

· Facial flushing

· Excessive sweating

· Dry mouth and itching

· Anorexia

· Constipation

· Dizziness

· Throat numbness

· Visual disturbances

· Psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, aggression, hostility, restlessness,, and drowsiness

· Tremors, restlessness, and lack of motor coordination

· Darkened facial skin or hyperpigmentation can be seen as a long term effect of kratom

Since an excess of anything can be harmful, very high maeng da kratom powder doses can also produce fatal effects such as:

· Severe hepato-toxicity (involvement of liver)

· Mild nephrotoxicity (involvement of kidneys)

· Seizures and eventually coma and death

· Lung toxicity (in the form of severe structural changes within the lung tissues)

· Cardio-toxicity (in the form of arrhythmias)

· Suppressor effect on thyroid gland – resulting in hypothyroidism

· Cellular toxicity

· Neuro-muscular injury – by inhibiting muscular contractions and relaxation

· Memory impairment

· Psychosis

Kratom has both natural health benefits as a supplement and can turn hazardous if taken in large doses. It is being used and accepted globally for its health benefits. Yet, special care must be taken by patients belonging to the following categories:

· Pregnant and lactating women

· Alcoholic patients

· Persons who are already on medications for some other illness – although rarely, kratom has been reported to cause drug interactions

It is quite evident from the description above that kratom is not a controlled drug and is sold globally in the the form of a health supplement. Although it has several natural health benefits, it also comes with its own set of side effects and toxicity if consumed in high doses. It is therefore important to know thoroughly about what you purchase before consuming it.