Although it’s still fairly new to the Western world, kratom (or ‘ketum’ as it’s sometimes called) has been around for centuries. The kratom tree, or Mitragyna speciosa if you want to call it by its scientific name, grows throughout many regions of Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.
Kratom Usage in Southeast Asia
Traditionally, kratom leaves are brewed into a tea. While this method is still popular in Western culture today, many recent kratom enthusiasts simply swallow the powder with a beverage or in a capsule. In Asia, it’s common for farmers to chew on the leaves while they work, as the leaves of the kratom tree have stimulating and pain-killing properties -– perfect for getting through a hard day of labor.
Kratom Usage In Western Societies
While kratom has been a well-kept secret in the Western world for decades, it’s only recently that it’s become a household name. These days, kratom is a miracle plant for many users, offering a wide range of benefits from providing a mild stimulation to helping people to eliminate their dependence on opiates. While the kratom tree is very difficult to grow in Western climates, there are plenty of growers in Southeast Asia who export the dried leaves.
Mitragyna Speciosa Plant Details
Like the coffee plant, the kratom tree is part of the Rubiaceae family of flowering plants. It’s a tropical evergreen tree that typically grows to around 50 feet high and three feet in diameter, although some have been known to reach a towering 82 feet. The tree has a straight trunk with smooth, grey bark, but what really makes it unique is its leaves.
The kratom tree produces leaves that have veins that change color depending on their maturity. When the leaves are young, they have white veins. As they age, the veins turn green, and then they eventually turn red as the plant reaches full maturity. These colors do much more than just give the leaves a pretty look, however.
The effects and benefits produced by the kratom tree vary depending on which strain you take, as well as the plant’s concentration of active alkaloids (mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine). Strains are usually named according to their vein color and the region from which they originated. For example, a Green Malay strain is a green vein (middle-aged) plant from Malaysia. Each color and region has its own unique attributes.
Vein Colors and Their Effects
While every batch of kratom is unique, you can select your preferred kratom type based on vein colors and regions. In short, white vein kratom strains are more stimulating, and red vein strains are more relaxing and analgesic. Green vein strains sit in the middle of the spectrum, and they tend to provide the most euphoria.
Common Regions Where the Kratom Tree Is Grown
The kratom tree can grow in many different regions throughout Southeast Asia, and each one tends to have its own characteristics. While there are always exceptions to the rule, these are some of the most popular regions and the effects for which they’re known:
Bali kratom tends to be relaxing and potent. Red Bali is often the preferred strain for people trying to get off opiates. Borneo strains are often very similar to Bali strains.
Thai strains are usually uplifting and stimulating. Even a Red Thai is usually a bit faster than typical reds.
Malaysian strains or ‘Malay’ as they’re often called, are often well-balanced, and the effects tend to last a bit longer than other varieties of the kratom tree.
Strains from Sumatra are often very relaxing and analgesic.
Strains that grow along the Hulu Kapuas river are usually very potent, and they usually provide a strong euphoria.
Strains from Indonesia are often called ‘Indo’ and they’re usually very energetic, providing an excellent mood lift.
Vietnamese kratom is typically very stimulating without being overly potent.
The term ‘Maeng Da’ doesn’t actually refer to a region. It’s a phrase that means a grower’s most powerful strain. Therefore, Maeng Da strains tend to be very potent.
How Kratom Powder Is Made
Now that you have a better understanding of the kratom tree, you may be wondering how it goes from a 50-foot tree to a powder. First, the leaves are harvested and dried by farmers throughout Asia, and then they’re mill-ground into a fine powder. That powder is then exported to sellers throughout the world.
Because the kratom market isn’t currently regulated, as of May 2018, it’s very important that you only buy kratom from reputable vendors so you don’t have to worry about additives, fillers, and other chemicals, as well as poor handling practices and dirty facilities.