Consummate dilettantism!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa)

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a plant used traditionally in Thailand as a stimulating drug, opium substitute, and anti-diarrheal agent. Workers there chew the fresh leaves to induce what is described as a "numbing, stimulating effect." This contradiction makes the plant very interesting; at lower doses it reportedly stimulates, while at higher doses it creates a narcotic euphoria. It is one of the few drugs that is known to act in this way. It is legal in the vast majority of countries, including the United States (it has not, however, escaped the attention of the DEA).

Needless to say, I bought a little from the internet (it is cheap -- one can buy 30 grams for $10, and the active dose is about 5 grams, although this certainly varies) in powdered form, mixed it with water and drank it down. At first I consumed about 2.5 grams -- from the reports I had read, this was an effective dose. But I felt very little (not even the stimulatory effect), so I downed another 2.5 grams. At this point it will suffice to say that Kratom sludge is utterly abhorrent -- it is dark green and tastes like very bitter green tea. I was able to tolerate it at first, but I have since developed an intense aversion to its taste. It's essentially a Pavlovian reaction, but it's a particularly potent one because we're biologically wired to avoid emetic plants. I can barely smell it now without gagging. I cannot mask it with anything else, either; the taste of Kratom inevitably wraps its gruesome tentacles around whatever it touches. (One can purchase capsules, though.)

But I think I'm confident in saying that apart from alcohol, Kratom is probably the most pleasurable and consistent legal drug there is, and easily the most pleasurable legal plant in existence. For a few hours I felt very, very pleasant, warm, comfortable, and sedately calm. It was really quite incredible; the trip didn't feel "artificial" in the least. In fact, I was amazed by how much it resembled the description given to opium in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater:
First, then, it is not so much affirmed as taken for granted, by all who ever mention opium, formally or incidentally, that it does or can produce intoxication. Now, reader, assure yourself, meo periculo, that no quantity of opium ever did, or could, intoxicate. As to the tincture of opium (commonly called laudanum) that might certainly intoxicate, if a man could bear to take enough of it; but why? because it contains so much proof spirit, and not because it contains so much opium. But crude opium, I affirm peremptorily, is incapable of producing any state of body at all resembling that which is produced by alcohol; and not in degree only incapable, but even in kind; it is not in the quantity of its effects merely, but in the quality, that it differs altogether. The pleasure given by wine is always mounting, and tending to a crisis, after which it declines; that from opium, when once generated, is stationary for eight or ten hours: the first, to borrow a technical distinction from medicine, is a case of acute, the second of chronic, pleasure; the one is a flame, the other a steady and equable glow. But the main distinction lies in this, that whereas wine disorders the mental faculties, opium, on the contrary (if taken in a proper manner), introduces amongst them the most exquisite order, legislation, and harmony. Wine robs a man of his self-possession; opium greatly invigorates it. Wine unsettles and clouds the judgment, and gives a preternatural brightness, and a vivid exaltation to the contempts and the admirations, to the loves and the hatreds, of the drinker; opium, on the contrary, communicates serenity and equipoise to all the faculties, active or passive; and with respect to the temper and moral feelings in general, it gives simply that sort of vital warmth which is approved by the judgment, and which would probably always accompany a bodily constitution of primeval or antediluvian health. Thus, for instance, opium, like wine, gives an expansion to the heart and the benevolent affections; but then, with this remarkable difference, that in the sudden development of kindheartedness which accompanies inebriation, there is always more or less of a maudlin character which exposes it to the contempt of the bystander. Men shake hands, swear eternal friendship, and shed tears, -- no mortal knows why; and the sensual creature is clearly uppermost. But the expansion of the benigner feelings, incident to opium, is no febrile access, but a healthy restoration to that state which the mind would naturally recover upon the removal of any deep-seated irritation of pain that had disturbed and quarrelled with the impulses of a heard originally just and good. True it is, that even wine, up to a certain point, and with certain men, rather tends to exalt and to steady the intellect; I myself, who have never been a great wine-drinker, used to find that half-a-dozen glasses of wine advantageously affected the faculties, brightened and intensified the consciousness, and gave to the mind a feeling of being "ponderibus librata suis;" and certainly it is most absurdly said, in popular language, of any man, that he is disguised in liquor; for, on the contrary, most men are disguised by sobriety; and it is when they are drinking (as some old gentleman says in Athen├Žus), that men display themselves in their true complexion of character; which surely is not disguising themselves. But still, wine constantly leads a man to the brink of absurdity and extravagance; and, beyond a certain point, it is sure to volatilize and to disperse the intellectual energies; whereas opium always seems to compose what had been agitated, and to concentrate what had been distracted. In short, to sum up all in one word, a man who is inebriated, or tending to inebriation, is, and feels that he is, in a condition which calls up into supremacy the merely human, too often the brutal, part of his nature; but the opium-eater (I speak of him who is not suffering from any disease, or other remote effects of opium) feels that the diviner part of his nature is paramount; that is, the moral affections are in a state of cloudless serenity; and over all is the great light of the majestic intellect.
...
For the sake, therefore, of witnessing, upon as large a scale as possible, a spectacle with which my sympathy was so entire, I used often, on Saturday nights, after I had taken opium, to wander forth, without much regarding the direction or the distance, to all the markets, and other parts of London, to which the poor resort on a Saturday night, for laying out their wages. Many a family party, consisting of a man, his wife, and sometimes one or two of his children, have I listened to, as they stood consulting on their ways and means, or the strength of their exchequer, or the price of household articles. Gradually I became familiar with their wishes, their difficulties, and their opinions. Sometimes there might be heard murmurs of discontent; but far oftener expressions on the countenance, or uttered in words, of patience, hope, and tranquility. And, taken generally, I must say, that, in this point, at least, the poor are far more philosophic than the rich; that they show a more ready and cheerful submission to what they consider as irremediable evils, or irreparable losses. Whenever I saw occasion, or could do it without appearing to be intrusive, I joined their parties, and gave my opinion upon the matter in discussion, which, if not always judicious, was always received indulgently. If wages were a little higher, or expected to be so, or the quartern loaf a little lower, or it was reported that onions and butter were expected to fall, I was glad; yet, if the contrary were true, I drew from opium some means of consoling myself. For opium (like the bee, that extracts its materials indiscriminately from roses and from the soot of chimneys) can overrule all feelings into a compliance with the master key. Some of these rambles led me to great distances; for an opium-eater is too happy to observe the motion of time.
The author later and herein describes walking around, talking to people, and listening to music, all of which are precisely what Kratom makes you want to do. But the similarity is not entirely surprising, given that Kratom activates the same opioid receptors that opium does. None of its molecules, however, are opiates, hence its legality.

A few days later I consumed 5 grams of another (more potent) strain and felt only fairly mild effects. I had the two different strains at the same time of day, at the same initial mood, on an empty stomach, and with water. This is not attributable to tolerance, as I later consumed more of the initial, pleasing strain and replicated the high. The former does indeed have a higher concentration of mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine (the active components), but through conversations with Kratom suppliers I have learned that Kratom is very unlike alcohol in that there is no "standard dose." This is not to say that Kratom does not work; unlike some other very disappointing legal drugs, Kratom actually does work and does so consistently. Most people are able to realize its effects, but perhaps not from the same material. Different strains have different blends of alkaloids. But the cheapest strain (from Bali) worked for me and generally works for most people -- the extracts seem to have different rates of success.

Another interesting property of Kratom is the "warmth" it bestows on its user. As I said, I feel warm and surprisingly comfortable on the drug; ironically, however, I seem to consistently shiver and chatter when outside on a cold day while using it. Kratom is indeed a painkiller, and it does numb: One is notably less receptive to physical pain and to temperature changes. I was able to venture outside on a particularly cold and windy day without wearing a hood. This is fairly unremarkable by itself, but I didn't feel any need to wear one -- I felt fine.

Kratom would presumably work well as a meditative aid. It is very safe, and is addictive only if used daily (which is very easy to do when you're surrounded by Kratom trees). Although mitragynine is a ╬╝-opioid agonist, it is not an opiate, and its molecule structure does not remotely resemble that of opiates. It thus does not produce the powerful addiction that often accompanies opiate use. (I can, of course, testify to this personally.)

I have occasionally felt mild nausea on Kratom, as is reported by many others. The nausea is not insurmountable, and it generally fades if no rapid movement is done. (Beware: Riding a bus or driving a car while one is on Kratom can indeed induce nausea.)

My recommendation? This drug is definitely worth a try. It is a drug of peace. It does not push its user towards violence or intoxicate the mind, as alcohol does. Tolerance may develop; one should consume Kratom only once every two weeks. I would not purchase more than a test amount. Remarkably, the drug may also interrupt opiate addiction in some. With the risks firmly in mind, get it here.

Pleasure: 4/5
Distortion: 2/5
Safety: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Usefulness: 3/5

1 comment:

  1. Extract Kratom will be more expensive but you just need to use a little amount of extract compare to the normal powder. And if you get the best extract, the effect will be amazing! Trust me!

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