Mitragyna speciosa (Kratom)

Mitragyna speciosa
(Kratom )
Other Names: (pronounced “Khrah-Tome”) Ketom, Biak, Mabog, Mitragyne

Green leaves of Mitrigyna Speciosa.

Related To: [Rubiaceae] Coffee, Noni, Guarana

Main Uses: Psychoactive Stimulant

Growth Rate: Moderate to fast.

Mature Height/Spread: Small to large tree; more than 50 feet tall in the tropics.

Flowering/Pollination: Yellow, clustering.

Tolerance: Intolerant of both salt and drought.

Soil/Nutrition: Moist, acidic soils rich in organic matter are very beneficial to the health of this species, which is native to tropical marshlands. Plant this species with a bale of peat moss, or another acidic soil medium. Pay special attention to maintaining sufficient iron and nitrogen, as kratom is a heavy feeder of these nutrients.

Light: Shade to full sun (when older). This is an understory tree.

Wind: Moderately sturdy tree. Light winds fix the desirable active components in the leaves.

Temperature: Can take temperatures down to freezing, with some leaf and green stem damage. Should be protected from frost if possible. Tree bounces back easily from damage.


There is a possibility of addiction with regular use. Mitragyna speciosa alkaloids bind to opiate and adrenaline receptors in the brain. It is stimulating to the central nervous system, and its effects are more profound than those of caffeine.

Its sublime, energizing effects may compel one to use it frequently, incrementally, and if used daily for periods of longer than a week, this herb will begin to cause mild withdrawal symptoms upon stopping, although the threshold for withdrawal seems to vary widely between people.

The extent of the withdrawal varies depending on duration/concentration of the material being used. Physical symptoms include insomnia, physical discomfort, restless legs, twitching, runny nose, and lethargy.

Mental symptoms include anxiety, depression, irritability, panic, and sadness. These symptoms last 3-5 days, while the mental symptoms can extend for a week after stopping.

As such, the author does not recommend using this herb, and if one chooses to do so, please do so with caution and respect for it’s potential.

To be safe using this herb, do not take in conjunction with other stimulants, prescription drugs, or caffeine. Mitragynine is a monoamine compound and cannot be mixed with MAO inhibitors.

Seed pods of Mirtragyna species are interesting. They occur in yellow, orange, or red.

Diseases Prone:

Bearing Age: Indefinitely, as leaves are produced. Mature leaves on a healthy tree are as large as 9-10 cm diameter on cultivated varieties. Wild specimens often produce significantly smaller leaves. Older trees produce stronger, more consistent strength leaves for psychoactive use.

Fruit: The seed pods form as yellow to red spheres.

History/Origin: Kratom is native to Thailand and Malaysia, but is also found in Borneo, Papua New Guinea and on some Pacific islands.

Species Observations:

Propagation: By marcot (air-layer), cuttings, and seeds. Seeds are recommended, as the other methods produce weak and sparse trees.

Container Culture: Easily grown in a container for some time, but will eventually need to be planted in the ground.

Medicinal Uses: 

Kratom is a stimulant for hard-working people who wish to be in good spirits where there is demanding, repetitive physical work to be done.

As with caffeine, it is mentally stimulating, providing wakefulness and alertness. With kratom there is also a psychological sense of being warm, at ease, and unfettered. Large doses are bracing and sedating, but usage on this level is not recommend by the author. Despite mitragynine being very low in toxicity, high dosages would likely have a detrimental effect on the nervous system.

The psychoactive leaves are constipating in large doses, and are used to treat diarrhea. If constipation is a problem with usage, take some salt with the leaves; this is a common practice in Malaysia.

Kratom is used to treat harmful addictions to more serious drugs, being especially useful in curbing the cravings and withdrawal symptoms of opium, heroin, and sedating medicines / pain relievers of the opioid family.

Nutritional Information: Ursolic acid, flavonoids, chlorophyll. It contains numerous indole alkaloids, which give the leaf its bitter flavor; 66% of the alkaloid content is mitragynine.

The most psychoactive alkaloid is 7-hydroxymitraginine.

Preparation / Food: Kratom leaves are chewed fresh in it’s native tropical regions. A single dose consists of about ten mature leaves which are chewed and held under the tongue. The alkaloids enter the bloodstream through the mucous membranes of the mouth, it’s effects being felt within 10 minutes.

Ingestion of the raw leaves will often cause stomach upset, and is not recommended.

To prepare for ingestion, the leaves should be dried, ground and encapsulated before being taken on an empty stomach, which enhances their potency. The effects can be felt within 1/2 hour, but will intensify after 60-90 minutes.

The psychoactive alkaloids can be easily extracted into alcohol tinctures.

The dried cut leaves can also be boiled into teas, as the alkaloids are not easily destroyed by heat. Kratom is sometimes smoked or chewed in quids with betel nuts.

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