Kratom is a tree in the coffee family. It grows naturally in South East Asia (The Philippines, New Guinea, Thailand, Indonesia, etc). Kratom has been used for a millennium in Thailand and Indonesia. Kratom and kratom tea have long been used in socio-religious ceremonies.
Currently 90%+ of the worlds kratom supply comes from Indonesian farms.
Traditionally farmers and fisherman would chew raw kratom leaves to experience:
- Energy boost
- Similar to coffee in this respect
- Pain relief
- Local anesthetic
- Numbing agent
- Treatment for coughs, fever and intestinal problems (diarrhea)
- Wound poultice – help heal cuts quickly
In Thailand kratom has also been used to treat morphine and opium dependence especially after a 1940s ban of opium forcing 1000’s to deal with severe withdrawal.
Traditionally labourers would chew 1-3 fresh leaves at a time to increase their energy and work productivity. Kratom users are called “kratom chewers” in SEA. Regular and addicted kratom users chew 3-10 times a day.
A fresh green leaf weighs on average 1.7g. Dried leaves weigh 0.43g on average. Average USA users consume 2-6grams a day of dried leaf powder.
Over 2% of Thai’s have tried kratom in their lifetime. 0.57% of Thai’s have used kratom within the last 30 days. These usage rates are higher than for marijuana among Thai’s making kratom the most common illicit drug in the country.
(“Kratom profile (chemistry, effects, other names, origin, mode of use, other names, medical use, control status)”. Page last updated 8 January 2015: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Retrieved 12 September 2016)
Possession of kratom leaves has been illegal in Thailand since 1943.
Kratom use for medical purposes was legalized in 2018.
(“Thailand legislature legalises medical cannabis and kratom”. Aljazeera English. 26 December 2018. Retrieved 26 December 2018.)
Despite the illegal nature of kratom in Thailand, there is very little stigma towards male users especially in rural areas.