Mitragyna speciosa (commonly referred to as kratom) is a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family native to SouthEast Asia. It is native to Thailand, Indonesia , Malaysia , Myanmar and Papua New Guinea, where it has been used in traditional medicines since at least the nineteenth century. Kratom has opiate properties and some stimulating effects.
Mitragyna speciosa is an evergreen tree that can grow to 25 m (82 ft) tall. Its trunk can grow to 0.9 m ( 3 ft) in diameter. The trunk is generally straight and the outer bark is smooth and grey. The leaves are dark green and glossy and can grow to over 14–20 cm (5.5–7.9 in) in length and 7–12 cm (2.8–4.7 in) in width when fully open, are ovate-acuminate in shape and opposite to the growth pattern, with 12–17 pairs of veins. The flowers grow in clusters of three in clusters. The calyx tube is 2 mm (0.08 in) long and has five lobes; the corolla tube is 2.5–3 mm (0.098–0.12 in) long.
Kratom has been studied in both cells and animals since 2013, but no clinical trials have been conducted in the United States. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration ( DEA) stated in 2013: “There is no legitimate medical use of kratom.” In April 2019, the United States Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) stated that there is no evidence that kratom is safe or effective in the treatment of any condition and that there is no approved clinical use of kratom.
Kratom has been used in traditional medicines in cultures where the plant grows. The leaves are chewed to relieve musculoskeletal pain and increase energy, appetite, and sexual desire in ways similar to khat and coca. The leaves or extracts from them are used to heal wounds and as a local anesthetic. Extracts and leaves have been used to treat cough, diarrhea, and intestinal infections. They are also used in Thailand as intestinal deworming agents.
At low doses, Kratom produces euphoric effects comparable to coca. At higher doses, Kratom produces opioid-like effects. Effects typically begin within five to ten minutes and last for two to five hours. According to the US DEA and 2020 surveys, kratom is used by the public to relieve pain, anxiety , depression, or opioid withdrawal.
Mitragyna speciosa causes many adverse reactions and in November 2017 the Food and Drug Administration issued a public health advisory for the drug. A 2019 review identified as common side effects: decreased appetite, anorexia, weight loss, temporary erectile dysfunction, insomnia, sweating, hyperpigmentation, hair loss, tremor, and constipation.
At relatively low doses (1–5 g of raw leaves), most of which have stimulating effects, side effects include contracted pupils and blushing; stimulation-related adverse effects include anxiety and agitation; and opioid-related effects such as itching, nausea, loss of appetite, and increased urination begin to appear.
At moderate (5 to 15 g of raw leaves) and higher doses in which opioid effects generally appear, additional adverse effects include tachycardia (an increased stimulating effect) as well as opioid side effects of constipation, dizziness, hypotension, dry mouth and sweating.
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