Citation: Hypersphere. "A Medicinal and Recreational Ally: An Experience with Kratom (exp81158)". Erowid.org. Feb 8, 2010. erowid.org/exp/81158
Kratom: A Medicinal and Recreational Ally
Background: I have been working with leaves of the tree Mitragyna speciosa (kratom) for a couple years now, and wish to share what I have learned of this wonderful plant. I am a 24 year old male weighing 128 pounds. I take no medications, but usually smoke marijuana and drink yerba mate on a daily basis. I have been using psychoactive substances since the age of 14, starting with marijuana and alcohol (and caffeine even earlier, around age 3). My main area of interest drug-wise is the psychedelics, and I have used the commonly available tryptamines (mushrooms, LSD, DMT and 5-MeO-DMT) as well as some phenethylamines (MDMA, MDA, 2C-I, 2C-E, 2C-B and DO-x compounds) and some dissociatives (Salvia divinorum, nitrous oxide, ketamine and DXM). I tend to avoid the more addictive and damaging drugs such as tobacco, cocaine, amphetamines and synthetic opiates or pharmaceuticals. I have some experience with opium and poppy tea, as well as codeine (tylenol 3s).
The first time I tried kratom, I can honestly say I did not notice the effects much. I threw a small handful of leaves in with a bunch of other plants (passionflower, damiana, catnip and a few others). I got a general relaxed, calm feeling, but it was hard for me to separate what effect the kratom had amongst all those other plants. I tried smoking some of the leaves also, and got a very mild spaced-out feeling, not that exciting. So initially, I wrote kratom off as weak and ineffective.
Sometime later I got another bag of leaves and started experimenting with the plant in tea form, on its own. I soon realized there was a noticeable psychoactive effect, which can be summed up as feeling simultaneously stimulated and relaxed. Kratom tea makes me feel talkative, social and energized, but at the same time mellow and chilled out. The effect of this herb for me was subtle but noticeable. As with many people’s first few times using marijuana, one has to have a feeling of what it is like to be “high” on kratom in order to recognize the effects.
Over the last two years, kratom has become one of my favourite plant allies. In terms of frequency of consumption, I now use kratom on two to four days out of the week. This puts it third, behind yerba mate and marijuana, for how often I consume the plant. These days I generally take kratom for one or two days, and then take a break of a day or two to let my tolerance die down. Occasionally I take longer breaks. Although I enjoy the effects of kratom, I do not find it particularly addictive. It is an easy plant to leave behind, when the bag has run out and I don’t order another for three weeks, or if I just want to take a break I do not feel a compulsion or desire for the plant.
Methods of preparation:
I have worked with kratom leaves in two forms: dry, crushed leaf and a “micro grind” where the dry leaves are ground to a very fine powder. The dry crushed leaf and the powdered micro grind leaf are both nice, but I use different methods of ingestion for them.
Making tea with powdered micro-grind leaf: This is my favourite way of enjoying kratom. I take a large mason jar, and put my desired amount of powdered kratom in the bottom (usually a heaping teaspoon to a rounded tablespoon, I will discuss this more in the dosage section below). I like to add a few sprigs of mint, for flavour and to help settle the stomach as kratom can cause nausea at higher doses (more on this below). I add boiling water to the jar, seal it and let it sit for about 20 minutes until the jar and tea are cool enough to drink comfortably. Sometimes I top the jar up with freshly brewed yerba mate (more on this in the combinations section below). When I drink the tea, I swirl the liquid in the jar before each sip, thus suspending the powdered plant material. In this way, as I drink the tea I am also consuming all the plant material. This is nice, because I get an initial effect from the liquid tea, and the alkaloids remaining in the powdered leaf come on a little slower as the leaf digests in my stomach. This method provides a long-lasting buzz with a slow onset and slow drop off. It takes about an hour and a half for the tea to finish coming up from the time I am done drinking it, and the effects last for five or six hours.
Dry, crushed leaf can either be made into tea or chewed. When making tea, I usually would boil the leaves three times for ten to fifteen minutes, and then combine and drink the three liquid extracts. It is good to triple boil the leaves this way, because the alkaloids in kratom do not extract very well with just a simple steeping. A triple boiled tea of the leaves is much stronger (and more bitter tasting!) than simply steeping the leaves. If simply steeping in hot water, I would usually re-steep the leaves two or three times to ensure getting all of the actives. Since the alkaloids are all in liquid solution, a tea made this way comes on pretty fast, and drops off faster than making a tea with powdered leaf. The main thing here for me is not to drink the tea too fast, otherwise I will get nauseous (more on this below). The tea finishes coming up around an hour after I finish drinking it, and the effects last about five hours.
Chewing the dry, crushed leaf is quite a bit different from making either of the tea methods discussed above. Traditionally the leaves are chewed (usually fresh leaves) to allow workers to do hard, physical labour. I find that compared to either of the tea methods, chewing the leaves has a more stimulating but shorter lasting effect. I take a small to medium sized pinch and place the leaves in my mouth, letting my saliva moistening them and then slowing chewing for five to ten minutes, gradually swallowing the chewed up leaves. Kratom has a drying effect, after a few minutes of chewing my mouth can become very dry and so I drink a little hot water or tea to moisten my mouth, and also to activate the leaves in my stomach.
The effects of chewing are noticeable within five minutes of starting to chew the leaves, and peak around an hour into the experience. Chewing the leaves can make me feel very high, very spaced out. I would say this is the most noticeably psychoactive way of using the leaves. I usually have lots of energy for an hour and a half, and then the effects drop off and become more sedative and relaxing. Usually after an hour or an hour and a half, when the effects are declining, I feel a desire to chew some more leaves and get that rising, stimulant feeling again. When chewing the leaves, each mouthful uses only a gram or two of leaf material. However, with multiple chewing sessions over the course of a day I may end up using more leaf than with a tea method.
One of the most important things I have learned about kratom, is that if I take too much, too fast, I will get nauseous. I have heard and read a lot of negative reports of kratom use, and almost all of these people took too much, too fast. The effects are pleasant at a high dose, but not overwhelming or all-involving, so the temptation to take more is there hoping for a further increase in effect. If I go over my limits with kratom, I will start to feel dizzy. This is my warning sign, to stop right away. Any dizzyness means I am in danger of getting nauseous.
The effects of kratom (particularly in powdered leaf tea form) will continue to creep up on me for a while after I have finished consumption. So, a mild dizzyness can quickly turn into feeling very dizzy and nauseous, as well as having hot and cold flashes, and sweating. Lying down and not moving much can sometimes help me ride out the nausea. More often, if I have taken too much too fast, the nausea will provoke vomitting. The need to vomit from kratom comes quickly and without much warning, and when it comes there is no resisting. I have to say, though, that getting sick from kratom is not that bad. If I get nauseous, I will quickly and relatively painlessly void my stomach contents. Usually I only vomit once, and the dizzyness and hot-cold flashes don’t last too much longer after getting sick. Within a half hour or an hour, I have ridden out the nausea and the effects become pleasant again.
The key to not getting nauseous on kratom is to ingest my dose slowly. When drinking the tea, I usually drink it over the course of two to four hours, the slower the better. If I take my normal dose all at once, I am very likely to get sick from it. When chewing the leaves, it is a good idea for me to wait at least a half hour before chewing more. Like I said, a slight feeling of dizzyness can become severe nausea with little or no warning.
As recommended with most opiate-type substances or alcohol, it helps to have some food in my stomach prior to ingestion. Having food in my stomach slows the rate of absorption, whereas taking the kratom on an empty stomach comes on too fast sometimes. Eating after taking some kratom may have the opposite effect, by getting my digestion going I may become nauseous, particularly if I eat a heavy meal after a strong dose of kratom. Drinking any kind of hot liquid, after taking a tea of powdered leaf or chewing the leaves, will activate the alkaloids present in the leaf material in my stomach and provide a second wave of effects. One time in particular I remember, I had chewed only three medium pinches of kratom leaf a couple hours previously. I was not really feeling much anymore, and considered myself more-or-less “baseline”. When I ate a large meal and drank a couple glasses of hot tea, the kratom kicked in again, very hard. I suddenly became nauseous and threw up most of my lovely dinner, and then spent the next couple hours being really, really spaced out. I would not have wanted to operate a motor vehicle, or even walk around during this period. That’s how strong the effects came back, and totally unexpectedly! So watch out, for that second wave, if eating and drinking hot liquids after taking kratom.
I should say that the dosage guidelines outlined here are by no means an exact science. Each batch of kratom has varying potency, in terms of the alkaloid content and also the ratio of the different alkaloids in the leaf. Some varieties of kratom are more potent than others, and may have a differing balance of stimulating and relaxing effects. Also, individual sensitivity to kratom varies dramatically. I know one man who gets nauseous off as little as one level teaspoon (2-3 grams) of kratom powder, whereas another man I know commonly takes 30-40 grams of kratom in a matter of minutes, and at his most ridiculous chewed around 90 grams (yes, 90 grams!) over the course of a day. Finally, tolerance to kratom builds rapidly if the plant is used on consecutive days, and even my one or two days on, one or two days off level of use means I have a degree of tolerance to the effects. So, the dosage guidelines below are for myself, using the powdered micro-grind leaf made into tea, of an “average” strength batch of Indonesian leaf. I like Indo leaf because it has a nice balance of the stimulating and relaxing effects, whereas some other strains for me are too stimulating, or too sedative/narcotic feeling.
Threshold dose, 2-3 grams or roughly one level teaspoon: This is the dose at which I will begin to feel the effects of kratom. At this low dose, I mostly notice a sense of energy and stimulation. There is a slight change in headspace, I will feel a little bit “elevated” akin to drinking a STRONG brew of yerba mate. There is some mild euphoria and I am generally in a good mood. I also notice an increase in my desire to communicate, words flow smoothly and easily. Without prior experience at this dose level, some individuals may not notice the effects because they are quite subtle. For me, this dose does not in any way interfere with my normal, everyday activities. There is no sense of being intoxicated or incapable.
Mild dose, 5 grams or roughly one heaping teaspoon: This is a dose at which the effects of kratom are quite noticeable, but will not get me into any trouble. There is a pronounced elevation of mood, whatever I am doing I just feel mellow and happy to be doing it. I often use kratom at work, because the moderate stimulation allows me to focus and work productively. I am able to do routine lab work for several hours without getting bored or tired, instead I find myself content to be working. This dose level is good for any kind of work, from hard physical labour to reading or writing papers (or this report!). It is also a good dose for sitting calmly and meditating. Primarily it serves to focus my mind. Towards the latter stages of the experience the stimulation fades away but the calm, relaxed feeling persists. When introducing other people to kratom, I find this is a good dose to start with, although it will still be too much for some individuals. Aches and pains, or nasal congestion are eased. This is a good medicinal dose because it is active but not too strongly psychoactive.
Moderate dose, 10 grams or roughly one rounded tablespoon: This is my normal dose of kratom, when I have no tolerance. As long as I take this amount slowly, I will not get nauseous (unless I have a new batch of untested and higher than average potency). Any dose over ten grams becomes sticky territory for me, with the potential for nausea. At ten grams, there is a very nice balance of stimulating and relaxing qualities. The elevation of mood noticed at five grams becomes stronger and more euphoric. I feel somewhat high and spaced out, almost like the initial alert sensations of mushrooms or LSD. There is a definate change in my headspace. I would also compare it to a threshold dose of MDMA, in that I feel energized and very positive. There is a warm feeling throughout my body, which feels relaxed and comfortable. Any aches and pains or fatigue is taken away, and if my nasal passages are stuffy from allergies or sickness, they will clear up completely.
I usually use this amount for working, because I can drink the tea slowly over three or four hours and the effects will last for the whole work day. Towards the latter stages of the experience, there is a more pronounced sedative/narcotic effect compared to a five gram dose. The effects are somewhat hypnotic, I may find myself five hours into the experience just wanting to lie down and drift gently. I could compare this effect to drinking a reasonable amount of poppy tea, except without the feeling of heaviness and lack of caring that for me accompanies the use of opium poppies. I would also compare it to around the fifth hour of psilocybin containing mushrooms, when I have dropped down from the plateau but am still altered. Somewhat psychedelic, but not strong enough to be considered tripping. It is dreamier and more relaxed feeling than mushrooms at five hours. There are some mild visual effects, mostly heightened colours.
Strong dose, 15 grams or roughly one heaping tablespoon: If I want to get really kratomified, or if it is my second day in a row using kratom and I need a higher dose to offset the tolerance, then fifteen grams is where it’s at. This is also where the tea starts getting pretty bitter, even by my standards (I like the taste of kratom and don’t use any sweetener in it). If I take this dose too fast, nausea is very likely. At this higher dose, the euphoria and mood elevation becomes somewhat more pronounced than at ten grams. During the initial stages of the experience I still feel talkative and social, and somewhat energized, comparable to a low dose or the initial come-up of MDMA. The main difference between a ten gram dose and a fifteen gram dose is that the opiate-like effect becomes more pronounced. The stimulation quickly fades and is replaced by a hypnotic, trance-like state known as “the land of nod” by opiate users. There is a dream-like feeling, and I find myself wanting to lie quietly in bed, just drifting. The effect is somewhat dissociative, comparable to a low dose of magic mushrooms if one lies down and directs the experience inward.
Heavy dose, 20 to 30 grams: This is as high as I have taken the dosage of kratom. A heavy dose for me, would be making two jars of kratom, each containing ten or fifteen grams, over the course of a day. I would still drink each jar slowly to avoid nausea, but no matter how slowly I drink it, I still often get nauseous at this dose level. I only take the dosage this high if I have used kratom the day before, and thus have a level of tolerance to its effect. If someone who is unfamiliar with the effects of kratom and having no tolerance to opiate-type drugs took this dose, they are almost guaranteed to become nauseous and likely to vomit. I would say that a heavy dose of kratom does not take me much deeper than a fifteen gram dose. The euphoria does not become more pronounced, although the “nodding out” sensation may be a little stronger. Mainly drinking the second jar of kratom serves to extend the duration of effects. I can drink one jar in the morning, and another in the evening and be kratomified all day. The effects are quite sedative towards the later stages of the experience, making the transition to sleep easily.
My one friend who loves kratom even more than me has taken the dosage range a little higher, often taking 30 to 40 grams in the course of a day. Sometimes taking 20 to 30 grams all at once, by adding just a little water to the powder and swilling the thick stuff down. He told me it was possible to “ride out” the nausea, and that this high of a dose for him was extremely euphoric after the nausea passed. Personally, I feel no need to push the dosage any higher than 30 grams, simply because I don’t like getting the nauseous feeling. His highest reported dose over the course of a day was 90 grams, via the chewing dry crushed leaf method. In a work environment, he outcompeted all the other employees doing heavy, physical labour over an eight hour period. I guess I can understand why this plant is traditionally chewed to faciliate hard manual labour for long hours.
Tolerance: There is a fast buildup of tolerance to the effects of kratom. If I take a normal dose on the first day, I usually have to increase my dose by 50% the next day to get a similar level of effect. On the third day, increasing the dose does not seem to offset the tolerance very much. I would usually just use the same dose as on the second day, but knowing that the quality and duration of the effects received will be diminished significantly. I have occasionally used kratom four days in a row, but by the fourth day I might as well not have bothered. There is very little of the normal enjoyable effects by the fourth day, and sometimes I actually found the opposite effect. On the fourth day I would sometimes feel disphoria and irritability after drinking kratom.
Kratom is a pretty innocuous substance, but is not totally without aftereffects. Unlike traditional opiate drugs, there is no significant withdrawal effect from kratom even after using for four days in a row. I definitely noticed a physical addiction and withdrawal effect to opium poppies when I used them more than once a week, but I have never found this with kratom and can simply stop using the plant whenever I want. Usually tolerance becomes so high after four days that I would simply stop using kratom, because the quality of effects diminishes rapidly. After a strong or heavy dose of kratom (15 grams or more) I usually feel a little lethargic the next day, preferring to sleep in and finding rising from bed a little harder than normal. Some days after a strong or heavy dose I would feel very energized and in a really positive mood, but other times I feel a little tired and irritable. Kratom is an excellent decongestant, but I often notice a rebound effect, where my nasal congestion will be worse for a day or two after using kratom.
To this point I have discussed mainly the psychoactive properties of kratom, but now I would like to turn my attention to some of the many medicinal properties that this plant has. It is a wonderful ally to use in many situations.
For coughs and colds, kratom is better than any cough and cold medicine I could buy at a pharmacy. Kratom is an excellent decongestant, providing a more effective and longer lasting relief of stuffy noses and sinus congestion than pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine and their ilk. Kratom also takes all the little aches and pains away from my body, and provides a beautiful soothing sensation. It is easy to fall asleep and get the rest I need to get better. Kratom makes a cough and cold so much easier for me to deal with.
For allergies, again the decongestant effects of kratom come into play. I believe kratom may actually have an anti-histamine effect. I am somewhat allergic to cats as well as heavy pollen loads, and on days that are particularly bad kratom clears my sinuses and relieves my red, itchy eyes also. It seems to actually block that itching response. Unlike normal opiates, even heavy doses of kratom do not make me itchy. Since the itching response to opiates is histamine-mediated, I theorize that kratom is an anti-histamine.
Kratom is a good analgesic, and I have used or administered it to others for such diverse complaints as general soreness in the body, sprained ankles, dislocated shoulders, blown knees, wasp stings and menstrual cramps. In every case it has provided fast and effective relief.
My partner and I have begun exploring kratom as an antidepressant. We have been encapsulating kratom powder mixed with maca flour and holy basil leaf, which both have mood stabilizing properties. The goal with this mixture is to have capsules that can be taken on days when someone is feeling down or depressed. The amounts of kratom used are around the threshold level. The combination of these three herbs gives an immediate elevation of mood and helps stabilize mood at this new positive vibration. Due to the tolerance factor and potential rebound effect, we would not take these capsules more than two days in a row.
There are a few substances which I really enjoy combining with kratom, and a few others that are in my opinion to be avoided, which I would like to discuss.
Towards the eighth hour of an LSD trip, it is nice to take a moderate dose of kratom. This soothes some of the reintegration jitters, allowing me to gentle down from the LSD high nicely, while at the same time spicing up those last four hours which can drag a little sometimes. As the kratom wears off the LSD is almost done too, and it is easier for me to go to sleep.
There is a special synergy between kratom and MDMA. Taking some kratom before taking the MDMA will increase the effect of the MDMA, allowing me to take a lower dose than normal. I have abused MDMA in the past and thus anything that helps me get a better effect from a lower (and therefore less harmful) dose is of value to me. Taking kratom towards the tail end of the MDMA experience soothes all the rough edges beautifully, and brings back a bit of the warm, fuzzy rolling feeling. Even drinking kratom the day after taking MDMA will make me feel that warm, empathogenic feeling a bit.
Alcohol is a substance I am cautious about using with kratom. Drinking before or after taking kratom makes nausea much more likely, even if using low doses of either substance. I have learned to never have more than one or two drinks, before or after using kratom. In general I avoid hard alcohol or beer with kratom, but there is a special quality to having a glass of red wine after a low to moderate dose of kratom. The red wine seems to act as fuel for the kratom, increasing the euphoric properties and paradoxically also increasing the stimulating qualities of the kratom. Normally red wine makes me pretty sleepy, but after kratom is makes me feel much more bubbly and social. Kratom is also a good hangover cure, not that I usually drink so much as to get a hangover. For me, drinking kratom usually kills any desire for alcohol that I may have, and vice versa having a beer after two days of kratom kills any desire I may have to try for that less-than-exciting third day on kratom.
Tobacco is a substance I avoid like the plague, and this is doubly true after drinking kratom. Tobacco on its own makes me dizzy, head-spins and a bit nauseous. Kratom amplifies this effect significantly. Once at a party I got passed a joint which had tobacco in it, unfortunately not disclosed to me prior to smoking. I got so dizzy and nauseous off just one toke that I had to lie down, and eventually went home. The dizzyness and nausea lasted three or four hours, and for me the party was ruined. I have heard from others who more regularly smoke tobacco that they get a similar effect.
In general, combining kratom with any kind of stimulant will bring out the stimulating qualities of the kratom, and combining it with any kind of sedative will bring out the sedating qualities of the kratom.
Ahh, kratom. Bitter green drink of the gods. Thanks for reading.
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