Kratom has been in existence for a long time but has only just recently been in the spotlight of Western medical and scientific research. The tree originates from Southern Asia and is classified under the Rubiaceae family. In the wild, the tree grows up to thirty feet tall and fifteen feet wide and its leaves also grow tall up to seven inches long and four inches wide. The tree was first documented by a colonial botanist from Netherlands called Pieter Korthals. Pieter described the plant as a reminder of a Bishop’s mitre and therefore he named it mitragyna. He also mentioned that the plant was used in Malaysia as a substitute for opium. It was also used in Thailand as a remedy to cure different mental and physical diseases. The Government of Thailand tried to ban the use of Kratom tree but it was not successful because the plant is indigenous to Thailand and therefore it could not be banned, it is part of their heritage. There was little research done in the past about this plant but many scientists have now embarked on researching about the plant in the last decade.
History of Kratom
The Kratom tree is said to have its origin in Thailand and Malaysia and is a very important part of the heritage of the people in those countries. This tree is abundant in these countries and they are popularly known as “Ketum” or “Thom”. The tree has leaves that are oval in shape and dark green in color as well as yellow flowers that are clustered. The natives of both countries have used this tree for medicinal purposes for centuries. The tree has alkaloids content which warrants further research and studies about the Kratom tree. Apart from being used for medicinal purposes, some natives used the plant as sexual enhancers to improve their sexual activities. There was no much information about this plant in the early centuries but with increased interest in the plant by scientists, botanists and researchers, there have been many studies carried out on the composition of the plant, its uses and effects. The popular name of the tree is Kratom but it has a scientific name as well as other names. Its scientific name is Mitragyna Speciosa and this name was given by Pieter Korthals. Other names that it is known by include Kakuam, Ketum, Ithang and Thom in different parts of Asia.
Scientific studies of Kratom
There is so much attention that the Kratom plant has been getting in the 21st century. So many companies and scientific grounds are carrying out research studies on the plant, its composition, properties and effects. The plant is interesting and scientists believe that there is still so much research that need to be carried out on the plant. Many studies are currently taking place in Japan, United States and Asia. The full effects of the plant have not yet been revealed because there has been little research carried out in that area. Recent studies do not show the full effects but only show that Kratom has alkaloids although how the alkaloids work or affect behavior is not yet known. Research is also being done to determine uses of Kratom and extents of its usage by human beings.
Regulation and legalities
The effects of drug on human beings is not yet fully discovered and it is also reported to have some effect on behavior of people and for these reasons it is illegal in some countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and United States of America. Possession of the plant in Thailand is illegal and has been for over fifty years. Planting of the tree is illegal in Thailand and those that exist are required to be cut down. However, the tree is part of the heritage of Thailand and therefore the law did not last since the people of Thailand support the existence of the tree despite Government efforts to burn down all Kratom trees. Due to the continued support of the plant by Thai natives, the Narcotics Control Board of Thailand proposed that the tree be decriminalized because it is an integral part of the Thai culture. The tree is also prohibited in Malaysia and in the United States of America the plant is not regulated by American Federal Government. There has been advocacy efforts that criminalizing the use of the plant is unfounded and should be stopped.