The Discovery of Kratom

As Kratom use is beginning to increase and people worldwide become more interested in the coveted ethnobotanical, people are starting to wonder more about its origins and who discovered it. While it has become popular now, it was not always so prominent. It took years of research to find out more about the plant and what makes it so unique.

Discovery tends to be the term used to describe the introduction of Kratom to the Americas and Europe. For hundreds if not thousands of years, the plant has been used by ancient civilizations and indigenous communities in regions throughout Southeast Asia. These communities were the first to use Kratom, as it grows wildly in these areas in large numbers.

The Beginnings

Deep in the dense and moist jungles of Southeast Asia grows the mitragyna speciosa tree. The same tree has been in use by indigenous populations around the world for centuries. As this area is host to acidic and nutrient-dense soil, it is ideal for Kratom tree growth. Within these soils are specific minerals responsible for infusing the plants with concentrations of active alkaloids like mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.

When looking at Kratom from a consumer standpoint, these are the two alkaloids sought out for therapeutic effects. When looking at different Kratom strains, they usually have different concentrations of these two compounds but almost always contain both. As the plant grows, the leaves become the main element used to make all subsequent Kratom products. They begin as a light white color and change to red. Farmers of Kratom will use these colors to determine when they need to pick the leaves for individual strains. If they want Red Vein Kratom, they will pick the more mature leaves. Depending on which region in Southeast Asia the Kratom is grown in, the naming convention will further change. For example, red-veined leaves grown in Thailand will result in Red Vein Thai Kratom.

These farmers and communities have respected Kratom for years. When many pharmaceutical drugs were made available in Europe and North America, these communities did not have access, and thus, they had to use the plants found in their native land. As they continued to use the product, they saw its health benefits as facts as they did not know anything else. However, now these facts are being skewed by regulatory bodies around the world.

How The West Learned Of Kratom

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Europe began to build empires worldwide. A man named Pieter Willem Korhals, a botanist of the Dust East India Companies from 1831-1836, is known as the first Westerner to document and study the plant. He named it mitragyna speciosa. The naming could have happened because of one of two reasons. It was either because the leaves resembled a bishop’s miter or because the plant had many uses and reminded Pieter of Mithraic cults. While he may not have recorded a concrete reason why he named it this, he did conduct various studies on the plant. These observations and studies were confirmed and added to by George Darby Haviland, a British surgeon.

The American Discovery

Even though Europe knew the Kratom plant, the Americans had no idea. It was during and following the Vietnam War that America learned of the plant. When the American soldiers were operating in Southeast Asia, they learned about Kratom from the indigenous populations. They were told that the leaves could be chewed upon to increase alertness. During a hostile time when many were put in situations where they had to stay awake for many hours, the plant helped keep them sane.

When the war ended and troops returned to America, they either brought back a supply of Kratom for themselves or organized trade routes to import the substance. For a long time, it went unnoticed by regulators with a small but hearty fan base. As healthcare was beginning to increase in the U.S., with various pharmaceuticals being too expensive for many, people were looking for natural remedies. As more people learned of Kratom, the scrutiny grew, which meant more regulations and greater restrictions.

Current Legal State

There are currently some bans in place that are limiting the widespread use of the plant; however, it is available in nearly all places in the U.S. for research purposes. There are also groups like the American Kratom Association who are putting efforts in place to help to improve Kratom’s reputation and lower the restrictions limiting its use.

When you purchase Kratom, make sure you do so from a reputable source. Many retailers operate shady businesses and don’t have their customer’s best interests at heart. These are the companies that are ruining Kratom’s reputation. When you buy high quality from a reputable source, you help bolster the positive Kratom name while simultaneously helping to compensate the farmers in Southeast Asia and, in turn, the same communities who first discovered Kratom.

Author : Andy Cyrus