What is Kratom?

Kratom is the popular name for a tree native to Southeast Asia. The leaves of the Kratom Tree contain some of the same chemicals found in opioids. Some people—especially in areas of the world where kratom trees are common—use it as a stimulant, for pain relief, or to improve mood.

What does it look like?

Kratom leaves are greenish brown and may be sold for tea or smoking, or as a green powder in capsules or in packets labeled “not for human consumption."

How is it used?

Usually, the kratom leaves are chewed or consumed by being mixed in food or tea. Sometimes the leaves are smoked or combined with other drugs. It has been used for years in Southeast Asia as an anti-diarrheal medicine, a painkiller and a recreational drug.

What can be the symptoms of use?

At low dosages, it is a stimulant, making a person more talkative, sociable and energetic. At higher dosages, it creates lethargy and euphoria with psychotic symptoms being reported.

Short-term use can cause sensitivity to sunburn, nausea, itching, sweating, and dry mouth. Long-term use can cause anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, skin darkening, dry mouth, frequent urination and constipation.

In long-term high doses it can cause hallucination and paranoia. Like other opioid drugs, kratom may cause dependence and some users have reported becoming addicted to kratom. A study in Thailand has found that people who use kratom over a period of several years have a much higher risk of using other substances—especially heroin, MDMA, and meth.

What are some street/commercial names for it?

Herbal Speedball, Biak-biak, Ketum, Kahuam, Ithang, Thom

Where does it come from?

Kratom has been available online, at smoke shops, convenience stores and gas stations. Commercial forms of kratom are sometimes laced with other compounds that have caused deaths. It’s impossible to know what other ingredients may be mixed in with kratom that’s sold commercially. For this reason, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned people not to use any products labeled as containing kratom.

For More Information:

NIDA: Kratom February 2016