Categories
Kratom

A Chronic Pain Patient’s Guide to Kratom

Mitragyna speciosa is the fancy taxonomical name for kratom, a deciduous evergreen* tree native to Southeast Asia that’s in the Rubiaceae family alongside coffee and tea. Unlike these two oh-so-common commodities, kratom doesn’t contain any caffeine. Rather, kratom contains about two dozen alkaloids that are collectively responsible for its pain-relieving, uplifting, and opioid-dependency-satisfying effects.

“Kratom” refers to both the Mitragyna speciosa tree and its leaves, the part of the plant that’s actually consumed. Don’t worry, though — in the United States, kratom trees don’t grow wildly, so “kratom” always refers to the leaves here.

*If kratom were grown in much of the U.S., its leaves would fall off in the winter; it’s native to tropical Southeast Asia, where the temperature never gets low enough for Mitragyna speciosa to go dormant (lose their leaves), making it a “deciduous evergreen” tree.

The Origin of Kratom

Although Mitragyna speciosa grows across tropical SE Asia, it’s only legal in Indonesia. While some kratom might come from illegal sources, it’s safe to say 99% of kratom available to American consumers is from Indonesia.

Indonesia is the fourth-most populated country on the planet with some 270 million residents but has just one-fifth the land mass. The country takes the form of an archipelago, or a bunch of islands; the second-largest of its 17,000 islands, Borneo, happens to be one of the most sparsely-populated spots in the Republic of Indonesia. Indonesia owns about three-quarters of Borneo — its share is split into five provinces: Central, East, North, South, and West Kalimantan.

West Kalimantan is where most kratom comes from. I don’t know how much, but I feel comfortable saying at least 95% of all kratom on the current market comes from Indonesia’s part of Borneo.

The city of Pontianak, (in the province of) West Kalimantan, (in the country of) Indonesia is the largest kratom hub in the country — and, by extension, the world.

Some kratom is grown in the U.S., but almost entirely for personal consumption. I feel confident the U.S. will ramp up its production of kratom in the future, but I don’t know how long that’ll take.

How Traditional Kratom Use and Modern American Consumption Differs

Traditionally, laborers of SE Asia have chewed fresh kratom leaves — in much lower doses than what modern American kratom consumers take — to power through the workday and alleviate aches and pains. They’ve been doing this for at least a few hundred years, if not way longer (I’d think it’d be thousands of years, but I’m not sure if the already-super-lacking body of kratom research supports this). Brewing tea — technically, it’s a tisane, not a tea — has also been common throughout SE Asia.

In the United States, we practically only consume kratom in dried, powdered form. Kratom leaves are milled like flour. Most often, we either swallow the powdered kratom, often done with a liquid, or make tea out of it, though tea-making is much less common. Modern American kratom consumers’ doses vary wildly, though most range between 3 and 12 grams.

The first noticeable wave of kratom came into the States after American soldiers returned home from the Vietnam War. This didn’t cause a permanent surge in kratom demand, though. The modern wave of popularity began within just the last 20 years. No doubt, the ongoing “opioid epidemic” — I don’t like that name, and you probably don’t, either — influenced the botanical’s popularity. The rise of e-commerce played a big role in boosting kratom’s accessibility, as did globalization.

Usually, you’ll find kratom in loose, powdered form. It also comes in capsules for ease of dosing, though capping them yourself is much cheaper. The only way to get fresh kratom leaves is to grow them yourself, have a friend or acquaintance who grows them, or live in SE Asia.

The Unfortunate State of Chronic Pain Treatment

I won’t elaborate on how tough opioid prescriptions are to come by for chronic pain here in modern America, but, just as you guys know, it’s fuckin’ tough. Even if you can get one — good luck finding prescribers willing to give you as much as you need — a constant worry of getting cut off lingers in the back of chronic pain patients’ minds.

The very real potential of having your legal opioid painkiller supply cut off out of nowhere is a big issue on its own. That risk comes in the form of opioid dependency. Wouldn’t you want a magic bullet to make opioid withdrawal syndrome go away once it rears its ugly head? It’s bound to happen in every CPP’s doctor-visiting career.

Kratom does just that. Yup, no bullshit, it satisfies our brains’ opioid receptors enough to stop withdrawal dead in its tracks. And it’s not that kratom has some limitless recreational potential or something — that couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s debate on whether kratom is an opioid or not, but, come on, it sure as hell acts like one!

But not when it comes to euphoria.

It acts like an opioid in terms of analgesia, say countless thousands of anecdotes online, but not when it comes to causing dependencies of its own.

We haven’t even got to the legality aspect yet. Mitragyna speciosa, at least in its raw form, is legal in almost every jurisdiction across the U.S.

And did I mention how cheap it is? Fair market value (FMV) of a kilogram of kratom is currently between $80 and $130; with doses ranging from 3 to 12 grams, a fair-market-value dose’ll run you ~$0.25 to ~$1.50. When I took kratom regularly, I dosed anywhere from 3 to 6 times daily.

Kratom holds its ground as a stand-alone pain reliever. Pharmaceutical companies hold several patents on alkaloids that are in kratom; patents don’t always indicate worthwhile or commercially-viable ideas, but early research indicates these alkaloids are worth their salt in healthcare contexts.

Mass Mis-Marketing in the Modern Mitragyna Market

We know almost all kratom comes from Borneo. Then why are there so many “strains” that come from other islands? I’ll tell ya why — ‘cuz it’s a marketing ploy.

Don’t pay much attention to “strain” names. Just find what works for you. I already wrote about this issue in full here, if you want to learn about mass mis-marketing in the modern Mitragyna market.

Problems With Kratom’s Mainstream Marketing

One thing that hurts kratom’s stock is how it’s marketed like the rash of legal highs that exploded in head shops, gas stations, and even “legal high” specialty stores in the early 2010s across the United States. It’s often sold in eye-grabbing packaging and, while I can’t be mad at store owners trying to put roofs over their heads, I most definitely am upset with the way kratom is sold at gas stations, head shops, etc.

I wrote about why buying kratom at stores like this is a bad idea here, if you’re interested.

Where to Find Kratom

Local in-person, non-ecommerce kratom markets are not very competitive. Where I live, a town of 10,000 and a county of 30,000 in the South, kratom never costs ≤ $0.50 and usually doesn’t go for ≤ $0.75. Shopping online is how you get kratom for the FMV of ~$80 to ~$130 — don’t expect to find kratom for this cheap at a gas station!

I don’t want to promote any vendors. Seemingly EVERY kratom resource online either’s hosted on a vendor’s page or has affiliate links to one or more vendors’ websites. Who am I if I fall guilty to the same lack of objectivity? I’m trying to teach you to fish here rather than just give you the fish, too, as that old-as-dirt proverb goes; here’s the steps I would follow:

Look for American Kratom Association Good Manufacturing Processes (AKA GMP) certified kratom-selling outfits in the United States — this is, of course, assuming you’re in the U S of A like me. You can find a list on the AKA’s website. Only the largest kratom businesses can afford getting this seal of approval. Buying from nobody but AKA GMP-certified vendors would leave countless more-than-suitable, way-cheaper alternatives.

AKA GMP This stamp of approval is the safest way to find a legit source of kratom, but I’ve never done it myself. I’ve always received kratom from non-certified sources. Here’s the thing — every single bit of kratom that any AKA GMP-certified company imports comes from non-AKA GMP-certified entities. Buying directly from Indonesia is ideal for getting the most value (lowest price); it’s also likely to be fresher coming straight from the source.

I got into kratom because of my problematic non-medical opioid use. What I mean is, even though I wasn’t opioid-dependent, kratom improved my ability to abstain from the use of “real” opioids, in turn boosting my quality of life. I’m not a chronic pain patient (though I am a CPP advocate) and want to be clear about how I got involved with kratom. This is relevant because I was always used to buying unregulated drugs (yes, kratom is a drug). CPPs are used to buying regulated goods and services; veering away from AKA GMP-regulated kratom sources could ultimately delegitimize our shared interest of giving CPPs more tools to handle chronic pain.

If I had to leave you with three ways to find good kratom sellers online, it’d be these:

  • The more legitimate the social media presence, the better.
  • The longer they’ve been around, the better.
  • The more (legitimate) reviews, the better.

How to Use Kratom

You can toss-n-wash — that’s short for “toss and wash” — powdered kratom with a liquid fairly easily. Put the kratom in your mouth and take a few swigs of chocolate milk (my favorite), orange juice, or, hell, just water. Trust me, though, this shit tastes rank.

You can also mix kratom into a drink, like a chocolate milk, for example. That’s what I always did.

Of course, you’ve got the capsule option. I don’t think capsules are good for dosing upwards of three or four grams; for me, personally, it always felt like the capsules rose to the top of my stomach — I could feel them inside of me for, I dunno, 30 minutes or so after dosing. And I didn’t like that feeling. But you might not have the same experience — that’s the big thing here, you won’t know which mode of administration is best until you try them out for yourself.

And then there’s tea — or tisane, is the right name, so I understand. Boil kratom powder or crushed leaf — I think crushed leaf is better for tea, personally — for a few minutes or even 30, 45 minutes. Add some lemon juice to extract some more alkaloids into the final product. I don’t know how it works, but it do.

Don’t worry about the specifics of how you toss-n-wash or make tea out of kratom. Just experiment and find out what works best for you. Don’t buy into any bullshit guides online — all of them come from places of personal experience. What works for Billy Joe might not work for Bobbi Sue.

To Tell, or Not to Tell… Your Doctor?

No… just, no. Let’s think — what’s the upside? Your doctor is cool with it and points out potential drug interactions.

What about the potential downside? Your doctor tells you kratom was responsible for X deaths in a recent year and that it’s bad. He identifies drug interactions that aren’t there and uses this excuse to cut back on your other meds or even not prescribe them at all.

Although there’s a blatant lack of empirical, academic-type research about kratom, there’s tons of anecdotal reports from fellow kratom users that can easily be found online. This includes other kratom consumers’ experiences with telling their doctors or other healthcare professionals about their kratom use. Just don’t do it — it’s sad I have to say that, but keeping your trap shut about kratom use is a very real concern in the modern American healthcare space.

Categories
From Personal Experience Kratom

Avoid These Places When Buying Kratom

Kratom has steadily grown in popularity throughout the United States in recent years. I’m happy to see more and more people using the plant.

Personally, I’ve tried to turn about — I don’t know, exactly — two dozen friends or associates on to kratom. Only one of them liked it.

That person stopped using opioids, as he had for several years daily — he’s a few years past 50 and suffers from cerebral palsy; he also used pain pills to more easily get through the blue-collar jobs he worked — and replaced opioids with kratom, which serves as a fine opioid replacement to many.

Kratom was a miracle plant in his eyes. And it is in many other people’s eyes, too. However, that doesn’t mean you should be willing to pay an arm and a leg for subpar-quality Mitragyna speciosa. You should be selective in shopping for the drug.

Avoid Head Shops, Music Stores, and Gas Stations

I get it — Walmart isn’t willing to stock kratom. Because kratom is a drug, many other retailers aren’t willing to offer kratom. This has left an opportunity for head shops and gas stations to start selling kratom on their own accord.

Even if you like the cashier behind the register at your favorite neighborhood gas station, don’t go there to buy kratom. Even if you enjoy visiting your local head shop to browse the selection of cleverly-crafted bongs, pipes, and other paraphernalia for smoking “tobacco,” don’t buy kratom from head shops.

I’m not hating on gas stations or head shops. I just don’t want to hurt our chances of bringing kratom into our society’s selective class of “acceptable” drugs. And I say this even though I don’t take kratom anymore — if I do, only rarely.

Here’s why I feel we should avoid these types of retailers as kratom consumers.

We Don’t Want to Bunch Kratom in With a Bad Crowd

The American Kratom Association (AKA) and countless grassroots activists have done lots of hard work in trying to keep kratom legal. As sensible fans of kratom, we shouldn’t take shots at the foundation the AKA and its helpers have constructed for all of us to enjoy.

Wouldn’t you rather buy kratom at Walmart or another mainstream retailer?

In the meantime, you should stick with domestic e-commerce vendors that you trust. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to do business with professional sole proprietors who sell kratom in your local area, though this should be second to choosing domestic, web-based sellers, in my opinion.

Where Do Head Shops and Gas Stations Get Their Product From?

One of the most important things in consumer retail is bag appeal. Business owners interested in bringing kratom to their head shops, gas stations, or other similar types of entities are much more likely to buy already-packaged kratom that looks comparable in terms of packaging quality to whatever you’d by in major retail stores as opposed to purchasing raw, unpackaged kratom, even if the latter is several times less expensive.

Why do I bring this up?

Pre-packaged kratom, on average, will be handled more than raw kratom. This gives these batches more of a chance to be exposed to contaminants or simply take hits to such kratom’s quality.

I’m confident that you would rather purchase kratom from a source that hasn’t handled it as much.

Also, know that you’re shelling out way more for kratom that’s been branded and packaged as opposed to raw kratom powder. If you purchase kratom from a retailer that purchased it from one of these pre-packagers, know you’re paying even more — way more than you need to, that’s for sure!

These Retailers Are Likely to Offer Lower-Quality Kratom

Companies that do not specialize in kratom are typically going to sell out of each batch of inventory at a slower pace than their kratom-focused counterparts. Traditional retailers keep their lights on for long periods throughout each business day, potentially lowering the quality of their kratom. Also, consumers are inevitably going to handle these businesses’ inventory.

While the potential downsides of these three factors might not be all that high, these things are something you should think about when shopping for kratom.

Categories
Kratom

Where Does Kratom Come From?

The United States is home to about 330 million people, who are spread across some 3.797 million square miles. I live in the third-most populated country in the world. It’s behind China and India, respectively, and directly in front of the Republic of Indonesia, which is home to 270 million residents.

Indonesia, a group of islands spread across Southeast Asia below Vietnam, Laos, and other countries in the extreme southeast portion of mainland Asia, is made up of just 735,000 square miles, or smaller than the U.S. by a factor of five.

The population density of the island of Java, home to 145 million Indonesians, making it the single most populated island in all of Indonesia. Java’s population density if 2,903 people per square mile. Sumatra is home to 50 million and is home to just 272 people per square mile, whereas Kalimantan, the largest island in the country, houses just 16 million people at 76 residents per square mile.

Much of Kalimantan, Indonesia’s official name for its portion of the island of Borneo, of which about three-fourths is Kalimantan.

Weakley County, Tennessee, on the other hand, which is roughly as small and sparsely-populated as the rest of Northwest Tennessee’s counties, all eight of them, at a population density of 60 people per square mile.

The only places in Tennessee, for example, that have a population density anywhere even remotely close to the island of Java are Shelby County, home to Memphis, is home to about 1,200 people per square mile, whereas Davidson County, where Nashville can be found, is home to a little less than 1,150. These are the only places in the entire state of Tennessee that even start to come close to the population density of Java.

Understanding What Kind of Tree Kratom Is

Kratom trees indeed remain green all year round in their natural habitat, on or near the equator. Mitragyna speciosa trees are deciduous, which are the many types of trees that lose their leaves every single year between the end of Fall and the beginning of Winter. Evergreen trees are the only instance of all-year-round coverage from certain species of trees, available in the Volunteer State along with many other places across the globe.

Even though kratom would lose its leaves every fall and gain them back in the spring if it was grown outside in Tennessee, just like all deciduous trees, kratom trees constantly bear leaves in Indonesia.

Note: “Kratom” doesn’t just refer to Mitragyna speciosa, as it refers to other plants that grow broad leaves and are similar to trees that belong to the taxonomical family of Rubiaceae.

Kratom is part of the Rubiaceae family of flowering plants that also includes coffee, Rubiaceae Coffea, and Rubiaceae Cinchona, the go-to source around the world for quinine, a treatment for malaria and babesiosis that is also often find in tonic water.

Where Is Kratom Said to be Grown?

There are some varieties of kratom with names that include “Plantation,” signifying that the variety was grown on somebody’s kratom “farm,” if you will. However, there are very, very few of these in the country due to a simple lack of land. Since kratom grows like a weed in the wild, particularly in areas covered by rainforest, of which Kalimantan fits the bill.

Most kratom is purported to grow on these farms, but it simply isn’t true. Which one sounds better — (A) a kratom vendor growing their own inventory via a private plot of kratom trees on land they own themselves or (B) someone collecting kratom leaves from Mitragyna speciosa trees in the wild? The second choice sounds better to most consumers, by far.

The reason I bring up the comparison of Indonesia and the United States’ size and population is that it’s easier to understand why most kratom wouldn’t come from other parts of the island.

I have not heard many, if any, allegations that Indonesians grow kratom indoors in my time with kratom. Remember the primary factor that limits the ability of Indonesians to operate active kratom “farms” in their home country is the fact that there’s not much room to do so outdoors, let alone inside.

Understanding the Process of Breeding Kratom Trees

Cross-pollination is a technique in which breeders place pollen from male plants of a particular species in the pistil of a female plant of the same species, both of which have different desired characteristics. The purpose of cross-pollinating plants is to produce new varieties of them — in this case, it’s kratom.

Cannabis is so strong today because of the advancement of technology and the relatively short maturity time of most cannabis plants, somewhere between four and seven months on average, usually, which has allowed breeders the opportunity to pack far more instances of cross-pollination into their breeding efforts than with kratom, for example, which takes much longer than flowers — such as cannabis — to reach maturity due to the fact kratom is a tree.

Note that maturity of kratom trees and other plants capable of cross-pollination helps breeders recognize what traits that a given variety has and will continue to keep throughout its lifetime. Another use of maturity when it comes to breeders is that they can know when it’s time for involved plants to accept pollen and yield seeds that will grow plants boasting different genetics — or, in other words, knowing when it’s time to pollinate female plants when breeding.

No matter how quickly kratom trees may mature — maturity also helps breeders know when males and females can start producing pollen, capable of traveling to female flowers’ pistils, and potentially yielding seeds that contain a mixture of the desired genetics from the cross-pollination of the two involved plants. However, in many cases, the one or two desired genetic traits prevalent in certain plants aren’t guaranteed to be picked up in the offspring of the female involved in the breeding process in conjunction with the female’s desired trait(s).

Put simply, cannabis can be crossed many times in a human’s lifetime, unlike kratom. Also, because it doesn’t require as stringent environmental conditions as Mitragyna speciosa trees, it’s easier to experiment genetically with cannabis.

Indonesian kratom vendors would like for consumers in nations around the world in which kratom isn’t native to not know about the difficulties of using selective breeding to hopefully yield stronger kratom, kratom with a different proportion of alkaloids, or batches of Mitragyna speciosa leaves that have better characteristics than other wild-grown forms.

Here’s What You Can Take From This Breeding Information

Since selective breeding doesn’t offer great benefits with kratom, and because it is rarely practiced on a consistent, generation-after-generation basis, selective breeding is not often carried out by even Indonesian kratom market participants. This means there is no such thing as cultivars or varieties that are noticeably different than one another and got that way as the result of deliberate breeding practices carried out by one or more human breeders of plants like kratom trees.

We can now deduce that we shouldn’t purchase batches of kratom that are said to be grown on farms of plantations for more money than their wild-grown counterparts. Some people may pay more for kratom that’s been farmed legitimately instead of just purported to have been farmed, though there’s not much reason to do so.

As time continues, the effects of crossing kratom trees will become more evident; this won’t be happening soon, though — that’s for sure.

Note: there is indeed an organization in Indonesia that represents members of the kratom market in the country like a union. The organization has a limited amount of private land dedicated to growing kratom trees and ultimately improving their genetics through extensive cross-pollination. I forgot the name of this entity. This place hasn’t been used as such for long enough to make a difference in the quality of such plants’ yield — while it’s nice to know if your kratom was grown on such a plot of private land used exclusively for growing the quasi-opioid drug, don’t bother paying more for such a reason, even if the vendor touting this alleged information to potential buyers can prove the statement to be true, it’s not beneficial enough to be worth its time.

No matter how you slice it, no American kratom consumers should be paying more for batches that are allegedly or assuredly — either, or — in line with such characteristics mentioned above.

Where Is Kratom Actually Grown?

So, where is kratom actually grown? The bulk of countries in Southeast Asia from which kratom is originally from have largely made Mitragyna speciosa illegal. Thailand, fortunately, has legalized kratom use for medical purposes, to be the only such country in addition to Indonesia where kratom is legal.

Due to the potential major negative outcome, there’s no reason for kratom harvesters, processors, and eventual vendors to grow kratom trees in any Southeast Asian country but Indonesia.

Although some kratom is grown on the 17,500-some islands that make up the Republic of Indonesia other than Kalimantan, most kratom that ends up in American’s hands is grown on the island of Borneo; more particularly, the portion of the large island — it’s the third-largest island in terms of surface area in all of Southeast Asia — that belongs to Indonesia.

For all practical purposes, we can assume that all kratom that ends up in the hands of regular kratom consumers across the United States comes from the island of Borneo that belongs to Indonesia — Kalimantan.

Is Any Kratom Grown Domestically in the United States?

Many kratommites — that’s an unofficial name for members of the greater kratom community — grow kratom trees here in the United States. Most of these trees are tucked away indoors and grown under powerful grow lights akin to those popular for indoor cannabis cultivation.

Keep in mind that I’ve never grown kratom. As such, since I’ve never done it, I truly don’t know much about the process as attentive kratom consumers who currently grow one or more kratom trees indoors, sometimes exposing them to the outdoors whenever it’s warm enough outside.

From anecdotal reports I’ve read online, Florida is capable of growing kratom trees outside, though the more a winter season cools off, the higher likelihood of getting damaged that applies to kratom trees, from what I’ve read. Again, I can’t personally guarantee that this information is correct — that about growing kratom, that is.

What’s the Purpose of Growing Kratom Trees If They’re Available Online for the Low Low?

Kratom is widely available across the Internet right now, almost all of which come from the Republic of Indonesia. You can find kilograms of kratom for $80 on some legitimate, reputable websites that sell batches of kratom that are up to industry standards in terms of kratom quality.

Even at prices of up to roughly $125 per kilogram, the absolute most I’d be willing to pay for kratom on the current market, why would it make sense to bother with the hassles posed by cultivating one or more kratom trees in the United States?

Indonesians obviously know far more about kratom than Americans do. After all, people in Indonesia actually see it with their own eyes, can consume fresh leaves, can pick and dry countless hundreds of pounds of kratom leaves that hail from trees on Kalimantan’s public lands, and otherwise know the ins, outs, ups, and downs of kratom at large. Since kratom is not native to the United States, we don’t know any of this stuff unless we’ve done it ourselves in Indonesia, which is highly, highly unlikely for just about anybody in the country.

Wouldn’t it be great if the average American kratom consumer actually knew a decent, respectable amount of information about all sides of the business?

It’s safe to assume that Indonesians are unwilling to give the information they’ve got regarding the inner workings of kratom on a practical level to us Americans, as they can, put simply, better take advantage of shoppers because they know less truth about kratom and are therefore able to be taken advantage of much more easily, resulting in more income for Indonesian direct vendors of kratom to American buyers.

As such, how can we stick up for American buyers of kratom and promote the gathering of legitimate field-specific information among American kratom consumers at large? Also, why should we bother with cultivating kratom here, in the United States, instead of leaving it up to Indonesians?

How Can We Answer Both of These Questions at Once?

By encouraging one another to grow kratom trees on a clandestine, grassroots, personal basis, we’ll be able to reduce our dependence on Indonesia as the source of our kratom. We’ll also benefit from not having to let our money escape from the United States’ national market of goods and services and ultimately in the hands of Indonesia’s, which is inherently detrimental to bolstering the stability of the United States economy. Also, if we grow this plant ourselves on a major scale, we’ll get taken advantage of less extensively and less frequently, ultimately resulting in our better understanding of the plant and the improved ability to take kratom and be able to derive outcomes that we desired more than others from using kratom.

There’s One More Reason to Grow Kratom Here in the United States

Not many Americans know how to speak Indonesian. As such, it is difficult for us, as a class, to understand what all Indonesian news publications actually mean — the same can be said for content on other websites.

In the past few months, I heard that the Republic of Indonesia was planning on making kratom illegal in five years. No official news has been confirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the government of Indonesia, but it’s been alleged by more than a couple of industry insiders that the FDA has been pushing Indonesia to ultimately make kratom illegal in the country, the source of most kratom that is sold in the U.S.

Although I talked to at least one Indonesian native who was involved in the kratom business who shared a local news source about the government’s intentions with me, because I can’t read Indonesian myself, I didn’t know what the article said. Other people have agreed that they heard that Indonesia might be stopping the sale of kratom on a federal level.

Ultimately, this would result in things like less kratom being legally available, having negative market effects like drastic price hikes on a market-wide basis. Kratom could, in such a situation, get so expensive that it wouldn’t be worth the price as compared to the utility of users’ other drugs of choice. For example, what if kratom become so expensive due to very real possibilities such as those mentioned herein that it made more sense for people using kratom as an alternative to true opioids to cease their use of kratom and return to more dangerous, illegal, more deadly batches of illicit opioids, including legitimate pharmaceuticals that have been diverted from legitimate sources for illicit sale.

If you’re able and willing to stop taking kratom at any moment — this won’t be a moment where you know ahead of time that kratom supply will be cut off; rather, you will be surprised with it — you might not actually face a real, harmful threat if kratom supply from Indonesia were to dry up due to a country-wide federal ban on kratom exporting. However, most people won’t fit this bill and will be negatively affected by an immediate dose reduction or immediate complete cessation of opioids if it were to happen to Americans.

Outside of withdrawal symptoms, let’s think about people who use it to curb their alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, or opioid consumption, as well as those who use it — both prescribed users of kratom for such a purpose under the direction of a physician, as well as those who are strictly self-medicating and skirting the recommendations made by their primary care provider or trained, certified naturopath.

People losing their substitute for such drugs would be likely to return to problem drug use, which is known to slightly increase the chance of their following drug use on causing overdose, the onset of serious and long-lasting mental health problems, and other seriously negative outcomes. Also, those who would find themselves immediately unable to find a suitable medication to treat their legitimate, diagnosed health condition’s symptoms would be likely to experience serious health outcomes in rebound, potentially worsening such situations and even causing death.

Kratom Grown In the United States Is More Likely to Be Void of Serious Contaminants

Kratom vendors that import their inventory directly from vendors in Indonesia or wherever their kratom supply might come from are likely to face contamination of their batches for several reasons.

Vendors, to both maintain a commitment to ethical values and adhere to the FDA’s requirements, should pay for sensitive, official, professional contaminant testing whereby it’s possible to determine whether certain batches of a vendor’s inventory or all of their kratom is void of contaminants or not. These results can often be posted on vendors’ official websites with an official certificate of that particular vendor’s contaminant test results as hosted on the testing lab that was chosen’s website. Consumers will ultimately feel safer if this is done, which is both a best practice for the field and required by the FDA, among other federal government agencies, as well as state-level bodies for that vendor to legally operate in the United States. The FDA’s federal-level guidelines in this capacity are known as Current Good Manufacturing Practices, or CGMP for short.

Adhering to these rules is likely to cause a reduced prevalence of kratom batches containing contaminants or otherwise containing unwanted, potentially harmful, and unknown contents.

Kratom vendors in the United States will always try to reduce the costs of resupplying their stores of inventory, one way of which is opting to receive kratom batches in separate plastic bags. One way that these first-line domestic kratom resellers improve their profits is by testing, breaking down packages of kratom in the dozens or hundreds of pounds, and repackaging them with supplies and facility features that have to adhere to all rules for food packaging regulation in the U.S.

Keep in mind, as well, that kratom has to travel anywhere from roughly 6,000 to 10,000 miles from Indonesia to ultimately arrive eat its destination here in the United States. For me, from the middle of the island of Java to Tennesse, the separation length is about 9,000 miles. It’s generally not a good idea for any product to be shipped thousands of miles, changing custody from one country’s group of government agencies to one or more different governments’ agencies of this type. One reason for this is that it’s likely to result in the contamination of clean batches of kratom with unwanted, foreign materials.

Some sources claim that at least 91 deaths across the United States have been caused either in large part or entirely by kratom, though the American Kratom Association has fought back against the Food and Drug Administration’s efforts and asserted that the government agency’s findings and assertions were entirely false.

Understanding How Likely Indonesian Entrepreneurs Are to Enter the Kratom Business Without Proper Equipment in the First Place

One thing about Indonesia is that they don’t have as much money as the United States. Gross domestic product, or GDP, in Indonesia is in 18th place among all countries on the face of planet Earth despite having the fourth greatest number of citizens. This means that Indonesians don’t have the same economic opportunities as we do here in the U.S.

One figure shows that the average post-tax earnings of an Indonesian adult are about $339 per month. Another figure indicates that the contemporary American adult’s annual earnings, after-tax, of course, is about $56,000. A typical amount of after-tax earnings pulled from a $50,000 annual salary is $39,239 on average, so we can be safe in our calculations by substantially underestimating the average take-home pay of Americans. From an annual earnings after-tax of $39,129, the average monthly income of a U.S. citizen is, according to this information, $3,261.

Whatever the particular rate of post-tax monthly earnings is, it’s clear that Americans earn boatloads more than Indonesians. Also, know that the U.S. Dollar has a favorable exchange rate when turned into Indonesian Rupiah, the country’s official fiat currency.

With all these factors being considered simultaneously, it’s easy to see why Indonesians are unable to get proper equipment in the first place or ever operate with a full, recommended family of equipment to do things the right way. Also, because it’s easy to visit public lands, either pick kratom leaves from trees by hand or rake up kratom leaves en masse from the forest floor of Kalimantan, as well as dry and process kratom, it’s easy for Indonesians to enter this market initially and start selling kratom to Americans.

Because Indonesians are incentivized, out of a sense of wanting to survive, they often engage in cutting corners.

One of the common ways that kratom is dried is outside. Kratom leaves are laid over on another out in the Sun or hung up on long strings of these alkaloid-filled leaves by tying such strings to two secure points. Vendors in Indonesia sometimes dry this kratom around their animals, such as pigs, cows, and the like, a common practice in the country, leaving feces kratom contamination that can result in countless harmful diseases with potentially lasting effects on victims — perhaps death.

All this information goes to explain how likely Indonesian vendors are to potentially contaminate what they harvest and process before sending it to end-users in the United States and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the world.

For these many reasons, it’s safer for kratom to be grown and processed in the United States, then sold domestically to fellow Americans from vendors based in the United States that all get their inventories of kratom from wholesalers based in the United States. In other words, it’d be highly beneficial for the U.S. to be able to welcome up kratom cultivation, harvesting, processing, and in-country vending to help our nation’s network of kratom users, though this will only be carried out through grassroots actions taken out by every single American who is interested in this push.

There’s no way the United States government is going to get involved in this effort anytime soon, after all, as the Food and Drug Administration has published many pieces of research and other forms of original media that denounce the safety and utility of kratom as opposed to true opioids and essentially say that kratom is the same thing as the many true, traditional opioids that include heroin, oxycodone, and morphine — research from non-governmental sources show kratom off in a more neutral or positive light in terms of its uses when applied in cases of opioid use disorder than in cases paid for by the U.S. government.

Indonesia Isn’t Home to Many Reputable Testers, at Least Not on the Same Level as Those in the United States

The United States is one of the most privileged countries on planet Earth. Indonesia just isn’t up to par with it in terms of providing manufacturing regulatory services such as checking if batches of kratom are free of adulterants, as well as what percentage of alkaloids in terms of total leaf weight are detected, which users can peruse to predict the likely effects of certain types of batches with proportions of alkaloids that are present in certain proportions, concentrations, and other setups.

There are many tests that can be done on small samples of kratom that are often paid for by copmanies that stand to benefit by assuring its clients t hat it regularly purchases the official test results from various forms of mitragynine confirmation checking and related tests.

From my experience dealing directly with Indonesian vendors — check out my other kratom articles for the story explaining my experience handling the U.S.-based operations of fan Indonesian vendor’s business for several months, including getting fronted a few hundred pounds of kratom each month and not having to pay for anything upfront, and so on — I’ve learned that entities that offer lab testing services for things like whether kratom has adulterants or major, highly harmful contaminants can easily be paid off.

For the equivalent of $30, as I was told from one of the two founders of the Indo kratom outfit I worked with, Indonesian labs would readily stamp whatever results you wanted on your confirmation certification regardless of the actual, true results of the testing of your batch of kratom.

In the United States, such an outcome can very, very rarely be paid for through bribing a lab and its workers directly, as doing so will typically end up in the lab disqualifying and potentially reporting the unethical rule-breaker of a customer, which can result in major negative press for companies that are found guilty of engaging in this activity. This just doesn’t happen in Indonesia.

Also, the FDA will not accept testing results from labs in any other country but the United States. For example, it’s useless for my old Indonesian vendor to send me kratom that he’s already paid to get tested by a domestic lab, even if they haven’t been bribed by the vendor because the federal United States agency will not accept the results of the unregulated, foreign lab.

How Do Interested Kratom Tree Growers Find Trees and Take Care of Them?

Again, as I’ve said at least a couple of times by now, I am not experienced in growing kratom trees. I want to start doing it soon, but just wanting to isn’t a replacement for built-up experience in this area — the only way to get there is to do it.

Kratom trees are available online from dozens of independent domestic vendors that sell clippings of their current living kratom trees, most of which are grown indoors. People usually charge anywhere from $30 to $50 for a kratom tree clipping — it is relatively easy to grow and doesn’t require an expert gardener — that comes off of their current kratom tree just before they ship it to customers.

Make sure to exercise discretion in choosing vendors of kratom tree clippings before sending any money to them. It’s easy to get scammed when doing business with independents for a number of reasons — just be careful at first!

By the way, I’ve heard at least two anecdotal reports that when raw, fresh kratom is chewed, they cause different effects than their traditional dried and powdered counterparts. There’s yet another good reason to welcome the responsibility of growing a kratom tree in your home or somewhere else that offers a suitable environment to grow it indoors.

What Else Do We Need to Know About Kratom?

We need to start growing kratom as Americans, as we produce absolutely no kratom on a commercial level to help satisfy the world-leading demands of American kratom consumers. If we don’t, there are many negative outcomes — there are plenty of others outside of those mentioned above — that could result from a major slowdown in the provision of processed kratom from Indonesia, which may eventually take place due to the United States FDA whispering into its ear.

One of the best things about even growing just one kratom tree is that we help the English-speaking world better understand how to properly grow kratom, process the leaves, know when leaves are most potent in terms of alkaloid content, and what are the most common recipes for the American market’s most sought-after variety of dried, raw, powdered kratom.

If you do decide to have fun with this and plan on providing your insights to the Internet, make sure not to forget following up with your discoveries on a popular, relevant Internet forum directly related to drugs, such as reddit.com/r/Opiates, reddit.com/r/Kratom, or bluelight.org, just to name a few.

Categories
Kratom

What Do Kratom Names Mean?

Businesses label different types of goods that have slight differences — they might not even be noticeable — using marketing-friendly names that build brand identity and are conducive to experiencing relatively high sales figures.

Kratom vendors do the same thing.

As kratom consumers, we’ve all likely heard of varieties such as Green Maeng Da, Yellow, Red Thai, White Riau, and more.

The first words refer to the supposed color of the central vein that runs down all kratom leaves. Their latter counterparts are said to represent where these leaves were harvested.

But what, exactly, do the various names of different kratom varieties mean?

What Is a Strain?

Strains are cultivars of plants that possess slightly different characteristics from one another. Watermelons, for example, are often found in varieties such as Sugar Babies, Black Diamonds, and Charleston Grays.

Corn, soybeans, and apples often come in different strains. The same is true for cannabis. I’d think that most people associate “strains” with cannabis plants. However, strains aren’t just a cannabis thing — they apply to all plants.

Cannabis is a flowering plant that matures in anywhere from two to six or more months from the time they sprouted. The more quickly a plant matures, the easier it is to develop your own strains or cultivars of plants. For example, if a plant matured in three weeks, an agricultural scientist could manage to 17 cycles of crossing the genes of male and female plants who have favorable characteristics.

Trees take a long time to mature. Kratom trees take at least five years, as far as I know — feel free to correct me if you know better than me! — to even start to mature. Although five years of growth isn’t long enough to begin seeing wanted characteristics in kratom trees, let’s assume that five years of maturing is all you need to effectively cross-pollinate two varieties of kratom.

Given that kratom has been popular in the United States for 20 years — tops — and assuming that there’s at least one American kratommite who has imported one or more kratom trees from Southeast Asia and planted them domestically, the maximum number of genetic crosses that could have taken place is just four! That’s not long enough for the ideal breeding of new plants through cross-pollination.

Kratom’s First Name

Just like people, kratom varieties are typically given two-word names to describe them. Kratom’s first name is usually a color — almost always green, red, white, yellow, or brown — though it may sometimes take the form of non-color words like “Horned Maeng Da” or “Plantation Maeng Da,” for example. Generally, these are the only two exceptions to the color rule related to kratom’s first-name naming convention.

Last Name

Kratom surnames aren’t always geographical locations, such as “Maeng Da,” for example. Most often, however, last names typically take the form of geographic locations within Indonesia. To a lesser extent, some kratom varieties’ surnames take the form of other countries or locales throughout Southeast Asia (e.g., Green Vietnam).

If Strain Names Aren’t Representative, Then What Do They Mean?

Kratom varieties’ names should not be taken literally. Vendors maintain catalogs of various blends of kratom; their names don’t matter. The purpose of using names like “Red Vietnam” or “Yellow Riau” is to make make consumers feel confident about such varieties being legitimate. “Strain” names are largely employed as marketing strategies.

They also serve as a way to tell the difference between the various blends that vendors prepare, mix, and market — the names “A, B, C, D,” and “E” could also all serve this same purpose. Just think, which one would you rather buy — product “A” or “Red Vietnam”?

Are Varieties of the Same Name Among Two or More Vendors the Same?

Many modern kratom consumers here in the United States believe that Vendor A’s Red Vietnam is equal to Vendor B’s Red Vietnam and Vendor C’s Red Vietnam in terms of effects, contents, how they were prepared, and where these batches’ leaves were sourced from.

There’s no consistency throughout kratom vendors regarding what they include in their recipes. If there is some consistency, it’s pure coincidence.

Don’t get caught up in the names of kratom varieties. I recommend purchasing sampler packs of multiple varieties from new vendors. Take note of which ones are your favorite, if you can even tell a difference between them, that is.

Then, once you’ve found a strain you like from a certain vendor, the contents and effects of that strain will likely hold true over time with that particular vendor. This convention is true for most kratom vendors — at least those that are worth their salt.

Check This Idea Out

Assume that a large or mid-sized kratom harvester, processor, and vendor in Indonesia makes most of its money from engaging in B2B — business-to-business — sales, selling already-mixed, prepackaged, already-named batches of kratom to entrepreneurs who plan on reselling it to end-users themselves.

That vendor blends its kratom varieties following strict recipes before selling them to resellers

Most resellers won’t bother rebranding or reblending kratom sold in this capacity. While some domestic American kratom resellers do blend already-blended kratom themselves, consider this an exception to the rule.

Categories
Internet Kratom

Finding Reputable, Reliable Kratom Vendors

Finding a good kratom vendor is just like shopping for anything else, right? Although you might think things would be as simple as shopping for anything else that’s legal, American kratom consumers often pay more than they should and purchase mismarketed kratom. Further, the way many kratom sellers treat kratom gives political opponents ammunition in the fight on kratom.

Let’s go ahead and dig into a few strategies anybody can use to seek out reliable, reputable, fair kratom vendors here in the United States.

Reduce Variations Between Batches by Trusting the Industry’s Largest Companies

Kratom’s effects and overall quality are affected by things such as the time of year when leaves were harvested — the monsoon season in Indonesia has a tangible effect on the outcome of kratom. By purchasing major shipments of kratom to use as inventory at once, vendors effectively fill their stocks to the brim.

What’s cool about this is that it means you can expect greater consistency between batches of particular varieties of kratom whenever vendors purchase inventory relatively few times per year and purchase more pounds of kratom per shipment than their counterparts.

Stay Away From Head Shops and Gas Stations

Kratom, in addition to the dozens, if not hundreds, of web-based kratom vendors that operate within the United States, is often found in gas stations, head shops, and convenience stores.

There are a few downsides to sourcing kratom from these types of establishments. These business entities are more likely to store kratom is less favorable conditions. For example, products will typically be exposed to bright lights for the majority of their days waiting to be sold. Also, to make potential sales, clerks are often asked by prospective buyers to inspect such kratom products’ packages. These both reduce the likely quality of kratom purchased from these types of retail storefronts.

Typically, real-life, brick-and-mortar retail facilities that engage in the sale of kratom only do so as a small portion of their overall forms of income generation. There are few places to buy kratom across the United States — retail, brick-and-mortar storefronts, that is — that make most or all of their money from selling kratom as opposed to other revenue-capturing opportunities. This results in gas stations, c-stores, and head shops typically holding their inventory for longer than businesses specializing as kratom vendors.

The Biggest Are Simply on the Internet

The way the modern domestic kratom market operates is largely in an e-commerce capacity. As you probably know, this simply means that vendors carry out financial transactions via their official, very own websites. After that, these vendors ship batches of kratom to buyers through the mail, typically through the likes of the United States Postal Service, also known as USPS.

I am normally an advocate of shopping at smaller industry competitors, as opposed to their largest corporate participants such as Walmart, for example. However, on the current kratom market, people regularly receive subpar product that takes too long to get to them and is far more expensive than better options found all over the World Wide Web.

I want you to establish trust for an online kratom vendor, ultimately. As such, I want you to simply go for the big guys as a means of drastically increasing your likelihood of receiving quality kratom leaves.

See New Names of Strains That Are Unique to a Vendor? It’s All a Marketing Gimmick

Marketing is an important business function, after all. If not for the practice, businesses wouldn’t be able to create intangible brand value. All considered, they’d simply sell a lot less goods and services than they do today — the economy would be a lot slower, in other words.

In general, kratom varieties are marketed as “strains” that follow a two-step naming convention, much like first and last names in the modern Western world. The first name is the color, which can be white, green, red, yellow, and others; the second name is the purported geological location of that batch’s harvest.

I know that most kratom comes from Indonesia — almost certainly at least 95 percent, if not upwards of 99 percent in terms of how much the — specifically the island of Borneo. Indonesia owns about three-quarters of Borneo — it’s among the top three largest islands in the world in terms of land mass — and is called Kalimantan. Most kratom comes from Pontianak, West Kalimantan.

Further, the bulk of kratom leaves are red-veined at harvest. This simply refers to the color of the central vein that runs underneath every kratom leaf. Leaves are said to be be supported by white, red, or green central veins — they can be each of these colors, though most of it is red-veined.

As such, why isn’t the market overflowed with Red Borneo and/or Red Kalimantan?

This is one reasonable way that I can prove to you that different kratom “strains” are simply blends of various batches of kratom. These batches differ based on when they were harvested and how they were dried and processed. When combined, kratom wholesalers in Indonesia slap largely-bogus “strain names” on batches.

These strain names are simply the names of recipes that vendors have developed over the time they’ve spent as kratom processors and harvesters. At least some kratom vendors in Indonesia likely share recipes among one another.

However, considering that it’s currently generally unfeasible to secure consistency in the alkaloid contents of the “raw ingredients” — the kratom inputs used to whip up the recipes mentioned above — the outcome of blending batches together is usually slightly-different kratom.

Although, with as much focus that the average American kratommite places on bogus strain names, you’d think that people would be able recognize even the most minute of details between batches of kratom. However, most people in the general community of the United States’ end-users of kratom wouldn’t even begin to be able to reliably, meaningfully differentiate between these batches.

Kratom Can Only Get So Good

In my experience as both a kratom vendor and user, I’ve come to find that many people are comfortable with paying relatively exorbitant amounts for kratom that isn’t worth as much as it’s being sold for. Such vendors are typically able to take advantage of proper marketing practices for the kratom industry.

Rather than being enticed by more expensive vendors’ claims that their kratom is so much better than the rest of the pack’s, I urge you to seek out the cheapest kratom among reliable vendors.

In my experience, kratom can currently be found for $80 per kilogram when purchasing single kilograms at a time. Many people pay up to — if not even greater than this, in some situations — $1.00 per gram of kratom, or $1,000 per kilogram, in other words.

Find a few of the cheapest, halfway-reputable sources of kratom online. Order relatively small batches from each of them. Determine whether they’re of standard kratom quality or not in comparison to one another. If you generally perceive them all to be of the same quality, that’s a good sign that each of the vendors you bought from have acceptable product quality.

Look to Other Customers’ Anecdotal Experiences

Don’t trust websites that exist solely to sell people things. These often contain highly-inflated ratings of the things they’re trying to get rid of. Rather than trusting such ratings, which are common across the kratom industry — this happens because it’s unregulated and so young that rules of thumb simply haven’t been discovered by American kratom consumers.

Look to web forums, such as Reddit, for example, in seeking out reports of others’ experiences in dealing with kratom vendors you’re potentially interested in to help you make good decisions about sourcing kratom from domestic vendors.

This Is a Legal Industry — Don’t Stand for Shady Behavior in Kratom’s Retail Sale

Legal industries are regulateakad by government agencies and other organizations. Because of their legality, they can be improved through administrative oversight — also known as regulation — something that does not persist on American illicit drug markets.

In my experience, it seems that most people who use kratom have used some other recreational drugs in their lifetimes. I feel that drug-using habits among kratom-consuming populations are far more prevalent than when in normal society.

If you come across vendors who treat retail kratom sale like selling illegal drugs ranging from cannabis to street heroin, don’t be afraid to seek out another one! After all, thanks to the fact that kratom is legal in most jurisdictions throughout the country, finding new sources isn’t something you have to settle for, such as with your connections to purchasing illicit drugs.

On illegal markets, vendors are generally unable to market their products like legal goods and services might be marketed. Black-market economy competitors don’t get nearly as much utility out of marketing as they otherwise would.

People who treat selling kratom in this way do a disservice to kratom’s legality in the United States and general acceptance by most people across our society. Countless thousands of kratom users — just laypeople who happen to use kratom — have advocated for keeping kratom legal across dozens of jurisdictions on local and state levels all over the United States. If not for the leadership of these advocates’ efforts exercised by the American Kratom Association for more than a few years now, the current legal and societal status of kratom in Northwest Tennessee would be far less favorable.

Opioid Replacements Are Often Expensive

For myself and countless other regular opioid users, kratom has worked as a suitable replacement to opioids, going as far as ceasing opioid withdrawals after having not consumed other opioids for 12 to 18 hours, roughly, if not a day or longer.

Buprenorphine, in my personal experience, costs $800 a month for me since having enrolled in a medication-assisted treatment program since mid-September 2019. Methadone is also expensive, though I don’t have any personal experience with this form of government-approved opioid replacements — I can’t reliably be sure about methadone’s price, then.

Many people stop using opioids with help from kratom. It works well for so many people — including satisfying the opioid withdrawal symptoms presented by both prescribed, strictly-analgesic use or recreational, self-medicating use.

As such — this is my personal opinion and may not be correct — these people are generally more willing to pay more for kratom.

Further, I’d also think that people who are switching from regularly using illicit drugs, which, due to their black-market nature, which are much more expensive than they would be on regulated, legalized markets, would be more willing to pay more for kratom.

You Can Turn to Indonesia, Too

Although I think it’s a better idea to search for safe, reliable kratom vendors by looking for domestic e-commerce retailers, your options aren’t limited to the United States — feel free to seek out vendors in Indonesia, who offer lower prices and typically stock fresher kratom, though their shipping takes anywhere from two to four weeks to arrive in the United States from Indonesia.

These Indonesian vendors will require you to spend a higher minimum dollar amount than likely all Internet-based kratom resellers based in the United States, which makes the threat of getting ripped off by a scammer even greater because the incentives are higher.

Also, you may be able to develop strong relationships with Indonesian vendors. Although unlikely, you may kindle genuine friendships through which you can source insider information from Indonesian kratom professionals, giving you a leg up on the domestic kratom market.

Categories
Chronic Pain From Personal Experience Harm Reduction Kratom

Kratom’s Utility in Addressing Opioid Use

Kratom trees, scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, are indigenous to Southeast Asia. Their leaves have been consumed by locals for hundreds, if not thousands, of years primarily for helping laborers work harder, longer, and more effectively. Kratom, which refers to the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa trees, has also been relied on for various medicinal and social applications by people indigenous to Southeast Asia.

More recently, in the past couple of decades, the Western world has grown fond of kratom. The United States is currently the world’s number-one national consumer of the drug. I believe that the recent climb of opioid use throughout the United States is responsible for kratom’s uptick in popularity in the past two-or-so decades.

Just like cannabis, kratom contains a few dozen alkaloids that are responsible for its effects. Unlike cannabis, kratom’s alkaloids have not yet been studied very well. We know that these alkaloids act on the brain’s opioid receptors. Some, particularly advocates of keeping kratom legal, backed by the American Kratom Association, argue that kratom is distinct from other opioids and should not be classified as one.

I will not be differentiating or comparing kratom and opioids in this article. Rather, I will simply address the utility of kratom in replacing traditional opioids among people who suffer from opioid use disorder, as well as how kratom can be used to dampen the effects of opioid withdrawal syndrome among people who are physically dependent on opioids.

Also, I will refer to kratom as an opioid in this article because, put simply, it acts very much like an opioid. It stops opioid withdrawal for most people suffering from opioid use disorder. It provides pain relief in the same fashion as traditional opioids. I understand that there are differences between traditional opioids and kratom — however, for all practical purposes, they are largely the same.

Opioids Are Known for Causing Dependency

One of the most common reasons why people suffering from opioid use disorder find quitting to be difficult is that they don’t want to face the effects of opioid withdrawal syndrome. As you likely know, after using opioids daily for even just a couple of months, users experience physical withdrawal symptoms that can be particularly rough.

Although opioid withdrawal is not typically known to cause death, the Internet, rehabs, medication-assisted treatment programs, and general drug culture are all littered with anecdotes of how harsh opioid withdrawal symptoms are.

In general, non-prescription drugs and prescription medications alike — the latter often known by prescribers as “comfort meds” — are used to ease opioid-dependent persons from opioids.

12 name-brand Suboxone films, commonly used as opioid replacements, stacked on top of one another.
Wikimedia Commons

Drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine (e.g., Suboxone, Subutex, Bunavail) are often used by medication-assisted treatment (MAT) providers to help opioid-dependent people from experiencing withdrawal symptoms and help them maintain neurological normalcy, two things that such opioid-dependent people would otherwise experience if they were to entirely cease the use of opioids.

Without getting into the problems that opioid users in Northwest Tennessee and elsewhere in rural Tennessee face in seeking out methadone or buprenorphine in place of their current opioids of choice, what’s important to know is that we — I say “we” as a long-term opioid user myself; fortunately, I’m currently on Suboxone and have been for a little over two months now, as of mid-November 2019 — often struggle to afford to pay for these MAT programs or the medication they prescribe, let alone have access to resources like reliable transportation to be able to visit them.

The Utility of Kratom in Addressing Opioid Use

Kratom isn’t only useful in serving people suffering from opioid use disorder as an alternative to other, often-illicit, expensive, not-always-available opioids. However, this article only addresses kratom in this light — just so you know.

Put simply, kratom relieves the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, both physical and mental. The Internet is flooded with anecdotal reports of regular opioid users who have used kratom in place of other opioids, having completely molly-whopped their expected opioid withdrawal symptoms from rearing their ugly heads in true Whack-A-Mole fashion. Personally, kratom has done just this for me.

However, for others, kratom only reduces the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Either way, kratom does a good job at eliminating or reducing the gut-wrenching effects of opioid withdrawal syndrome.

Why Use Kratom in Place of Other Opioids?

Opioids are expensive for the overwhelming majority of opioid users in Northwest Tennessee — and elsewhere throughout the United States. Since prescribers have cracked down on their once-liberal opioid prescribing practices, causing the available supply of prescription opioids diverted to the domestic black market for sale to drop, the price of available opioid tablets — and other less-common formulations, such as Actiq fentanyl lozenges or hydromorphone rectal suppositories — has skyrocketed for most of us.

In Southern Middle Tennessee, for example, according to personal experience and reports of fellow drug users who are from the area, the standard price of 30-milligram, instant-release oxycodone tablets — aka roxies or blues, as they’re often called — have risen to $50 to $60 per tablet! That’s up from a standard rate of roughly $20 per tablet in this same area around 2011 or 2012, when I first got into opioids.

Reason Number One

Mitragyna speciosa (Kratom) tree in the wild.

Kratom is far cheaper than other opioids. Although some blessed — or not-so-blessed, depending on how you look at it — individuals are able to secure ultra-high-dosage prescriptions from legitimate physicians and cover the cost of both their medication and doctor visits with insurance coverage or source low-cost prescriptions from family members in such a fashion, the vast majority of us are forced to pay lots of money for illicit opioids.

Currently, standard-quality, unadulterated, powdered kratom costs as little as $80 per kilogram from U.S.-based vendors. It goes for as little as $40 to $50 per kilogram from Indonesian-based vendors, where the vast majority of kratom consumed by American users originates.

Some people pay much more for kratom, such as in gas stations, convenience stores, or head shops, with prices ranging upward of a dollar per gram — that’s $1,000 per kilogram!

For reference, when I used kratom more often, I would usually dose between 6 and 12 grams, taken up to five or six times per day, if not more. Kratom doses for others usually range between 1 and 15 grams per dose.

Reason Number Two

Kratom is more readily available than other opioids. Back before the contemporary opioid epidemic, when the United States was home to fewer street heroin users, the domestic population of people suffering from opioid use disorder consisted of a greater proportion of those who sourced prescription opioids (including prescriptions diverted to the black market) rather than heroin to fuel their addictions.

In these days, even though the supply of legitimate prescription opioids was saturated, dealers ran out of opioids because of the problems related to sourcing prescription opioids. Of course, this persists today, just in far more prevalent fashion than before.

Heroin — I often refer to heroin as “street heroin” or “illicit street heroin” because heroin is used in pharmaceutical applications elsewhere, such as Diaphin, a brand-name, pharmaceutical version of heroin… in practical local use, though, nobody calls it that — does not fall short to this “prescription problem.” Due to its black-market nature, heroin is more consistently available than pharmaceutical opioids.

Reason Number Three

Kratom doesn’t cause respiratory depression like traditional opioids.

What’s more important is that kratom doesn’t cause people to lose consciousness — respiratory depression isn’t, actually, the main cause of opioid overdose deaths. Rather, sedatives sometimes cause people to lose consciousness and the ability to keep their airways open.

In other words, people find themselves unable to breathe during opioid overdoses.

Considering that kratom isn’t as likely to cause the single-most dangerous side effect of traditional opioids, it’s loads safer!

I should note that some studies claim that kratom does cause respiratory depression. However, widely-supported kratom reseach such as the AKA’s 8-Factor Analysis of kratom indicates that such concerns are blown out of proportion by federal government agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Make your own determination regarding whether the FDA is unbiased in pumping out research that unfairly, untruly portrays the facts about drug use. One major incentive for the FDA to do so is to maintain the War on Drugs waged by the U.S. government against drug users and, by extension, society at large.

Also, another way that opioids cause overdose is through asphyxiation. Opioids sometimes cause vomiting. They also cause people to lose consciousness. Combined, opioid overdoses sometimes manifest themselves by users choking on their vomit.

In my experience — and according to countless thousands of anecdotal reports spread far and wide across the World Wide Web — kratom isn’t prone to making people pass out. While kratom may make people barf, at least they won’t spill their guts while unconscious, further separating kratom from traditional opioids in terms of safety.

Another way to look at safety is, because of kratom’s legality in both Indonesia — the overwhelming majority of kratom unarguably comes from Indonesia, specifically West Kalimantan, part of the Republic of Indonesia’s legally-owned stake of the island of Borneo, a large Southeast Asian island — and most of the United States, kratom is less likely to be cut — another word for “adulterated” or “made impure” — with other unwanted active ingredients or unknown adulterants.

I’ve heard that some batches of kratom are adulterated with “matcha,” or powdered green tea leaves. They taste largely the same as kratom and are the same color as ground, powdered kratom. Batches are rarely adulterated with active ingredients other than matcha (which contains caffeine, if you didn’t know), according to my experience with close, personal relations with Indonesian kratom vendors and processors (to read more about my relationship with these two people, skip to the section below about it).

All considered, the market status of kratom also makes it safer than many drugs sold on the black-market economy many common psychoactive drugs are sold on in the United States. Cannabis is largely safe, even in illegal states, for example, though many other popular drugs, such as heroin, are often loaded with adulterants.

Compare the relative safety of kratom to traditional opioids, then combine it with the above, to understand the full picture on kratom’s safety-related utility on opioid users.

Reason Number Four

Of course, in both my experience and the minds of countless other regular illicit drug users throughout the world, the illegality of drugs isn’t stopping hardly anybody. We’re still going to use drugs, whether or not they’re legal.

In other words, the ongoing War on Drugs isn’t working.

The primary reason why I enrolled in a MAT program is that heroin, my now-former drug of choice, is illegal. Everything about it is illegal. People who sell it are often engaged in other criminal activities — not because they’re bad people, in most cases, but because of a combination of other factors that are too lengthy to get into in this article.

I grew tired of the bullshit associated with heroin thanks to its illegal nature.

Although some drug users are disciplined in avoiding run-ins with law enforcement, inevitably, the vast majority of us will face legal trouble at some point in our drug-using careers. I’ve known this from the start, but, of course, it wasn’t enough to stop me from using drugs.

Without getting into too much detail, I wasn’t willing to risk getting in legal trouble any further, and, just a couple of months ago, I turned to a medication-assisted treatment program for help dealing with my regular use of heroin and other opioids.

The criminal justice system ultimately turned me to Suboxone. I’m grateful for that today. No more worrying about dying every fucking time I want to get high.

Suboxone is super expensive, but at least I’m safer.

Anyway.

Kratom, at least here throughout the state of Tennessee, is legal. You can’t get in trouble for kratom, legally-speaking, that is — well, at least you’re not supposed to, as some people in the Volunteer State very much have gotten in trouble for kratom possession or sale.

Most — most, not all — drug screens do not test for kratom’s alkaloids or any of their metabolites. Therefore, people in drug court, on probation, or on parole may find utility in turning to kratom as a substitute for other drugs.

Whether you’re on probation/parole, or if you simply are too scared to use illicit drugs because of potential negative outcomes stemming from run-ins with law enforcement — which includes potentially harmful interactions with law enforcement officers, such as unlawfully being shot or physically struck, however unlikely that may be, or having large amounts of cash seized as “drug money,” even if they’re not related to drugs in the slightest, among other things — or sentences placed upon you by the criminal justice system, kratom is a fine alternative to other drugs.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with being scared of law enforcement. I am, that’s for sure! I hate that so many of us drug users have to feel that way.

Note the idea of “toxic masculinity,” whereby men have been raised by parents or society — usually both — to not be scared of or admit being scared by real threats such as those posed by doing illegal things. People who hold such ideas, which are especially prevalent in NWTN and the rest of the Southeast, are seemingly more likely to engage in adopting common harm reduction practices to some degree, however how small. This is of my personal opinion and experience spending my short lifetime in rural Tennessee, particularly Southern Middle and Northwest Tennessee.

Reason Number Five

People who face the threat of employment-related drug screens also use kratom for this very reason. Keep in mind that some state- and federal-level government agencies acting as employers are typically more likely than other employers to engage in the expensive, wide-ranging drug tests that are more likely to detect kratom as opposed to mainstream, run-of-the-mill urine and saliva drug tests.

Someone, assumed to be an employer, offering a urine drug screen and clipboard with disclosure form to the viewer.

This can be largely related to the drug screens often required by probation and parole requirements referenced above.

Reason Number Six

Kratom was illegal in the Volunteer State as recently as 2016. Since kratom isn’t illegal, it’s more on par in terms of social acceptability à la alcohol as opposed to largely-illicit drugs that are not societally considered as acceptable.

Official logo of the
PRNewsfoto / American Kratom Association

Just for the record, and in the interest of being fair to the American Kratom Association (AKA), I should also mention what positive work the AKA has done for kratom.

I feel like the differentiation between traditional opioids and kratom has harmed my efforts of promoting the normalcy of drug use, particularly opioid use. Opioids have consumed the bulk of my attention in being an active advocate for harm reduction (i.e., giving out free and clean syringes, providing naloxone to users and laypeople alike and educating them best practices in preventing opioid-related deaths) because of opioids having been my drug of choice for about five-and-a-half years as of now, mid-November 2019 and the ongoing opioid epidemic.

The FDA has argued against kratom advocates by say it should be grouped into the category of traditional opioids as a tool to keep kratom illegal throughout the United States.

I should mention that the AKA claims that kratom “is not a drug,” which is wholly false. Drugs, put simply, are things that change how we feel. Kratom very much changes how people feel, with the exception of long-term users who’ve built up tolerance to the leafy green psychoactive drug.

The AKA also says, per its “Follow the Science” web page, that it’s “not a synthetic substance” or “an opiate.” First off, synthetic substances aren’t inherently harmful; also, just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe. Second, opiates — a more appropriate, all-encompassing term is “opioid,” as opposed to “opiate,” which refers only to drugs that are found naturally in the opium poppy — aren’t inherently bad, either.

However, I understand that avoiding labeling kratom as a synthetic substance or opioid helps the American Kratom Association in its efforts to keep kratom legal throughout the United States. I’m torn between praising the AKA for doing a great job of keeping kratom legal and damning them for piling even more stigma onto opioids — and kratom is pretty darn similar to opioids, might I add.

A Side Note

With this in mind, I consider the AKA’s efforts over the past few years as being detrimentally influential to my largely-opioid-related harm reduction efforts.

However, seeing as I have used kratom regularly over the past three years when I couldn’t afford illicit opioids — something that often happened quite frequently throughout my time as a drug user when focused on opioids as my drug of choice — to make keep me happy, away from anxiety and depression, and feeling “normal,” the AKA has sure helped my outlook of experiencing serious outcomes from my almost-six-year period as a concurrent traditional opioid and kratom user.

Put simply, AKA good bc provide legal & cheap alternative to opioid use.

IMO, AKA bad bc didn’t advocate for all drugs.

Doing so would have obviously made it so much more difficult for the kratom advocacy community and the AKA to successfully reverse many near-decisions to make kratom illegal on several levels of state and municipal governments.

Tying This All Together — Here’s the Skinny

Modern American illicit opioid users are plagued by countless major market-wide issues, such as a lack of regulation and policing as the sole mode of industry administration.

This is especially true in backwards-thinking areas of the United States, such as in Northwest Tennessee.

Kratom has many benefits to illicit opioids in modern America. Keep in mind that kratom definitely isn’t a cure-all. Also, there’s a lack of research — of its commercial market and on an academic, a pharmacological, and a medical level — that makes understanding truly how much kratom improves the long-term outcomes of modern American illicit opioid users.

My Relationship With Two Indonesian Kratom Vendors/Processors/Harvesters

Most Americans don’t talk to native Indonesians very often. Personally, I don’t know any languages but English. I’ve never been out of the country and travel very little. I am not well cultured myself and am not trying to seem that way or brag about my time being connected to the industry in this way.

Since the kratom industry in Indonesia isn’t regulated and kratom trees grow wild there, making it easy for anybody to visit public lands that contain wide ranges of rainforest, which is what the island of Borneo consists of.

The U.S. Dollar goes far in Indonesia. The number-one national consumer of kratom, again, is the United States. Indonesians capable of harvesting, processing, and selling kratom are incentivized to do so.

Some privately-owned kratom trees exist in both small-time residential capacities and large, farmed capacities. However, you should understand that most kratom is not farmed, no matter what the majority of American kratom consumers might think.

Because of the nature of kratom in Indonesia, commercially speaking, it makes sense why Indonesians would want to keep industry-specific information — admittedly, they’ve done a good job of securing these details among themselves — within their own country and out of the lexicon of American kratom users.

Here’s How It Happened

I offered to write articles for about 10 kratom vendors active on the Internet via email. One of them was based in Indonesia. We’ll call them KootaBang, or KB for short.

KB was operated by a pair of young Indonesian men. They had been selling kratom shipped from Indonesia for a few years and worked with at least two other individuals they met online in the United States. I was the third that I know of. Even if they have to risk someone running off with a shipment of kratom — the largest single incoming shipment, in my situation, was less than 200 pounds, which was lasted about a month — it was worth taking the risk (see USD exchange rates with the Indonesian Rupiah, etc., above) for their potential reward.

I simply performed customer service, as they weren’t fluent English speakers, and shipped the already-packaged kratom throughout the U.S. via my local post office. I paid nothing for the kratom shipments. It was all loaned to me. They paid for all shipping, too. The customer service function of my job work was something I offered to do after shipping kratom for a little while.

So, I didn’t own KootaBang, but I pretty much ran it myself — operations-wise, that is.

I bring this up to explain why they would have been incentivized to share some industry insider information — keep in mind that kratom is largely new across the U.S. and that we grow absolutely none used on a commercial scale here — with me rather than hide it. Any of the now-four people who have run KootaBang’s United States-based operations could have run away at any time with current inventory stores worth a few thousand dollars. Doing so also would have taken KootaBang out of business due to how long finding a new suitable U.S.-based vendor, including shipping kratom some 7,000 to 9,000 miles away from Indonesia to the United States, takes.

Did I Learn Everything There Is to Know?

Absolutely not! All of the stuff I learned — the stuff that most other American kratom consumers wouldn’t know about — didn’t scratch the surface of what there is to know.

I don’t know how the various drying or curing methods affect the alkaloid concentrations and their proportions to one another. I don’t know how to grow kratom myself. I didn’t ever go there, let alone participate in the industry myself.

I didn’t get the gig with them because I was good — I got lucky! I can’t pretend that I earned it myself. I was very small-time and my experience spanned just four months of hands-on kratom selling.

Also, as time goes on, these “trade secrets” will become more widely known across American kratom consumers. I think this is great, by the way, in the name of better understanding kratom.

I share this stuff not to seem like I’m special and holier than thou — I just want to share what should be common knowledge across the world of kratom. I wish I, and everybody else, knew it from the jump.

If you visit the Kratom subreddit on Reddit, you’ll see that ignorance is common across the community, but that’s only because Indonesian kratom industry participants benefit from keeping it that way and withholding information that only people who have hands-on experience with kratom harvesting and processing possess.