Mitragyna speciosa commonly called kratom, kratum, or krathom (Thai: กระท่อม) is a tropical deciduous and evergreen tree in the coffee family (Rubiaceae) native to Southeast Asia in the Indochina and Malesia floristic regions. The leaf of the tree has been traditionally used for its medicinal properties. Mitragyna speciosa is a psychoactive tree, and the leaves of the tree have been chewed to uplift mood as well as to treat a large number of health problems. M. Speciosa is indigenous to Thailand and, despite growing naturally in the country, has been outlawed for 70 years due largely to the properties of kratom curing opium addicts and reducing the Thai government's tax revenue from opium distribution.
Mitragyna speciosa is frequently the subject of media reports which assert that kratom causes a variety of side effects, though reviews of the scientific literature and population reports show these claims to be inaccurate or unfounded. No reported overdose of Kratom has ever been reported in medical literature, and Kratom is frequently used as a natural alternative to treat depression, anxiety, addiction, diabetes, chronic pain and fatigue.
Taxonomy & Description 
It was first formally described by the Dutch colonial botanist Pieter Korthals. The genus was given the name Mitragyna by Korthals because the stigmas in the first species he examined resembled the shape of a bishop's mitre. It is botanically related to the genera Corynanthe and Uncaria and shares some similar biochemistry.
Mitragyna speciosa trees usually grow to a height of 12–30 ft (3.7–9.1 m) tall and 15 ft (4.6 m) wide, although under the right conditions, certain species can reach up to 40–100 ft (12–30 m) in height. Mitragyna speciosa can be either evergreen or deciduous depending on the climate and environment in which it is grown. The stem is erect and branching. The leaves of the kratom tree are a dark green colour and can grow to over 7 inches (180 mm) long and 4 inches (100 mm) wide, are ovate-acuminate in shape, and opposite in growth pattern. The flowers are yellow and round and tend to grow in clusters at the end of the branches. The leaves of M. Speciosa are elliptic and are smaller at the end of the branchlets and are pointed at the tip. The leaves have a round and heart-shape at the base with the petioles between 2 to 4 centimeters long. The flowers are crowded in a round terminal inflorescences which are 3 to 5 centimeters long. The calyx-tube is fairly short and has a cup-shape to it, with round lobes. The corolla-tube is about 5 millimeters long with 3 millimiter long lobes and smooth and revolute in between.
40 unique compounds had been discovered in M. Speciosa leaves, including many alkaloids including mitragynine (once thought to be the primary active constituent), mitraphylline, and 7-hydroxymitragynine (which is currently the most likely candidate for the primary active chemical in the plant). Other active chemicals in M. Speciosa include raubasine (best known from Rauwolfia serpentina) and some yohimbe alkaloids such as corynantheidine.
Mitragyna Speciosa also contains at least one alkaloid (rhynchophylline) that is a calcium channel blocker, and reduces NMDA-induced current. There is considerable research as to the role of NMDA receptor activity in the formation of dependence, and the symptoms of withdrawal. In 2005, Inturrisi demonstrated that co-administration of d-methadone (the isomer that lacks opioid activity, but is an NMDA antagonist) in small doses with morphine prevented the development of morphine tolerance in rats. The presence of mitragynine can be detected in urine by non-conventional immunological screenings.
The amount of mitragynine within the leaves depends highly on many factors, one major factor is the location of the tree. When trees are grown in Southeast Asia, the levels tend to be higher but when grown elsewhere (even in greenhouses) the levels tend to be low or non-existent. The chemical structure of mitragynines incorporate the nucleus of the tryptamine, and these may be responsible for the molecules which are observed in the serotonin and adrnergic systems. In mitragynine, the phenolic methyl ether is considered to be stronger in analgesic paradigms according to some studies. Moreover, studies concerning the pharmacokinetics of M. Speciosa in humans has not been well studied and various aspects such as the half-life, protein binding properties and other properties such as the elimination or metabolism is not known.
Traditional use 
Kratom has been traditionally chewed, in raw leaf form, by people in Thailand and especially in the southern peninsula. Kratom is also used in neighboring countries in Southeast Asia where it grows naturally. As traditionally used, kratom is not seen as a drug and there is no stigma associated with kratom use or discrimination against kratom eaters. In southern Thailand, kratom has been a part of traditional culture for thousands of years and is common in traditional cultural performances and in agriculture. In southern Thailand, kratom chewers generally start at around the age of 25 and many continue to chew the leaves for the rest of their lives. The average number of leaves consumed is between 10 and 60 leaves consumed daily, but even more than this is common. In southern Thailand, upwards of 70% of the male population uses kratom on a daily basis in some areas. Traditional use of kratom is considered equivalent to drinking coffee.
As with any substance that is ingested, adulteration or contamination is also a risk. One product, Krypton that contained a mix of several different substances rather than natural kratom was linked to the deaths of nine people in Sweden during 2010-2011. Krypton contained O-desmethyltramadol which is the active metabolite in tramadol. O-desmethyltramadol is a considerably more potent μ-opioid agonist than Tramadol, its parent compound. Since it is possible to overdose on Tramadol alone, it can be assumed its more potent active metabolite, O-desmethyltramadol, causes fatalities as well.
However, there has never been a single documented lethal case of kratom overdose.
Medicinal uses 
Kratom has seen therapeutic use in Thai ethnomedicine as an antidiarrhoeal, as a treatment for opioid dependence, and rarely to increase the duration of coitus. It is also a substance of interest in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. A general consensus exists in Thailand among leaders, public health officials, academics and policymakers that kratom use and dependence causes little, if any, health risks. Many chronic pain patients report that kratom has greatly improved the quality of their lives.
A derivative of mitragynine has also been shown to trigger a strong anti-nociceptive effect while, at the same time, having less side effects than conventional painkillers.
Treating addiction 
Since one of the main pharmacological target of Mitragyna alkaloids is the endogenous opioid system, kratom preparations have been shown to be effective in treating opioid withdrawal and chronic pain. While kratom itself is mildly addictive, the withdrawal symptoms from cessation of kratom have been shown to be very weak and may include mild joint pain or sleeplessness.
Anti-depressant effects 
Kratom is commonly used for its anti-depressants effects and studies have shown that mitragynine has antidepressant-like effects. A study was done from isolated mitragynine, which was isolated from Mitragyna speciosa, that attempted to investigate the antidepressant effects of adding mitragynine. The study concluded that there are significant anti-depressant effects to be gained from mitragynine.
Antioxidant effects 
Improving high blood-pressure 
Media attention 
Kratom, like several other natural plant remedies, is frequently a concern of politicians, journalists and regulatory officials. Despite this fact, no scientific reports exist showing kratom, in and of itself, to have resulted in lethal overdose. A recent incident[when?] involving a 27 year old woman from Kelso, Washington was blamed on kratom consumption. The woman was arrested after being caught naked running in the street with a hammer. According to reports she had smoked marijuana laced with chemicals prior to this incident in addition to consuming kratom.
Kratom alone, when chewed or boiled into a tea, is indeed quite harmless according to the available literature. While additional research is needed, it has been said that the criminalization of kratom is unfounded and is based on economic control and disinformation. There are very few records available showing negative health or social consequences from kratom consumption, but despite this fact kratom is becoming increasingly subject to actions of law enforcement in numerous countries. The criminalization of kratom has created numerous barriers for research. In Thailand, the eradication campaigns have made it especially difficult for academics and researchers to adequately research the medicinal benefits of kratom. It has been recommended by the transnational institute that kratom be decriminalized and has concluded that the criminalization of kratom to be unnecessary, problematic and counter-productive. It also concluded that the evidence showing the health benefits of kratom, especially in treating drug and alcohol dependence, should serve as an important point to consider.
Possession of kratom leaves is illegal in Thailand, despite the tree being native to the country. The Thai government passed the Kratom Act 2486 which went into effect on August 3, 1943. This law makes planting the tree illegal and requires existing trees to be cut down. This law was not found effective, since the tree is indigenous to the country. Today, kratom is scheduled in category 5 of the Narcotics Acts (1979), in the same category as cannabis and magic mushrooms (the least punitive category). A large aspect of Thai culture supports kratom, however despite this fact the Thai government has initiated a program of destroying kratom trees by burning forests or chopping large sections of kratom forests down. Eradication campaigns often destroy not only the trees but also other trees and wildlife in these areas, which are often untouched rainforests with sensitive ecosystems.
- Proposed decriminalization
In 2010, the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board proposed decriminalizing kratom and affirmed its use as an integral part of Thai culture. The ONCB concluded that decades of unproblematic use, and an absence of health and social harm, make prohibiting the leaf unnecessary and counterproductive. According to the ONCB's report, kratom was in fact banned for economic reasons, not for health or social concerns. In a snippet from a book written by Cassandra Hoffman:
"In Thailand, kratom was first scheduled for control in 1943 under the Kratom Act. At the time, the government was levying taxes from users and shops involved in the opium trade. Because of the increasing opium costs, many users were switching to kratom to manage their withdrawal symptoms. However, the launch of the Greater East Asia War in 1942 and declining revenues from the opium trade pushed the Thai government into action to curb and suppress competition in the opium market by making kratom illegal."
While additional research is needed kratom proponents argue that the criminalization of kratom is unfounded and is based on economic control and misinformation. The criminalization of kratom has made research more difficult, especially in Thailand. It has been recommended by the Transnational Institute that kratom be decriminalized and that the criminalization of kratom to be unnecessary, problematic and counter-productive. The Institute also argues that the evidence showing the health benefits of kratom, particularly in treating drug and alcohol dependence, are worth exploring further.
United States 
Indiana House of Representatives HB1196, sponsored by Edward DeLaney, Steve Davisson, Terri Austin, Vernon G. Smith, and David Yarde during the 2012 regular session as a response to increasing synthetic drug use, made Indiana the first and only state to ban kratom, although indirectly. The text of the bill added kratom's two active alkaloids—mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine—to the state's list of controlled substances, though kratom itself is not synthetic and was not specifically addressed by the authors of the bill. Petitioners on Change.org subsequently sought delisting of kratom's alkaloids by raising the issue with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.
Iowa legislators grouped Mitragyna speciosa as a synthetic cannabinoid when a bill was proposed that would reclassify nearly all controlled substances in their state. The Louisiana legislature proposed an age limit of 18 to be able to legally purchase, possess and consume kratom. Violators would have been assessed a penalty of no more than $500, or sentenced to six months in jail, or both. Massachusetts Representative Daniel K. Webster sponsored legislation in 2011 that would have included compounds of Mitragyna speciosa in the state's controlled substance classification list.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Mitragyna speciosa|
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- Kiley, Brendan (2012-04-10). "The Rush to Prohibit Kratom". The Stranger. Retrieved 2012-10-30.
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Further reading 
- Mitragynine on ToxNet CASRN: 4098-40-2
- K. M. Babu, Ch. R. McCurdy, E.W. Boyer: Opioid receptors and legal highs: Salvia divinorum and Kratom, Clinical Toxicology * 46, 146-152
- E.W. Boyer, K. M. Babu, G. E. Macalino, W. Compton, Self-Treatment of Opioid With-drawal with a Dietary Supplement, Kratom, The American Journal on Addictions, 16: 352-356, 2007
- E.W. Boyer, K. M. Babu, J. E. Adkins, Ch. R. McCurdy, J. H. Halpern, Self-treatment of opioid withdrawal using kratom (Mitragynia speciosa korth), Addiction, 103 *. 1048-1050, 2008
- European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa). Retrieved 2013-03-08.
- K. S. Grewal, Observations on the pharmacology of mitragynine, J Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 1932, 46:251-71 und K. S. Grewal, The Effect of Mitragynine on Man, British Journal of Medical Psychology 1932, 12: 41-58
- S. Suwanlert, A study of kratom eaters in Thailand, UNODC – Bulletin on Narcotics Vol. 27*: 21-27, 1975
- Jansen, Prast Psychoactive properties of mitragynine (kratom), Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 1988, 20*-457
- Hiromitsu Takayama: Chemistry and Pharmacology of Analgetic Indole Alkaloids from the Rubiaceous Plant, Mitragyna speciosa; Review; Chem. Pharm. Bull. 52* 916-928 *
- Suchitra Thongpradichote, et al.: Identification of opioid receptor subtypes in antino-ciceptive actions of supraspinally-administered mitragynine in mice; Life Sciences, Vol. 62, No. 16, Seite 1371-1378, 1998
- UNITED NATIONS OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME, Vienna, BULLETIN ON NARCOTICS, Volume LVII, Nos. 1 and 2, 2005, S. 249-256, UNITED NATIONS New York, 2007
- Aekajit Chaiyawong: "Drugs Situation and the Drugs Information System in Thailand", Global Workshop on Drug Information Systems: Activities, Methods and Future Oppor-tunities, Wien, 3.-5. Dezember 2001, unterstützt durch das "United Nations International Drug Control Programme under the Global Assessment Programme on Drug Abuse" (GAP). United Nations, New York, 2002, Weitere Informationen sind auf der GAP Inter-netseite www.undcp.org zu finden.