AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

In many ways modern medicine has been the salvation of the human race. Advances in science and medical research have saved countless lives and offered people around the world the chance for a happier and healthier life. Without the advent of life-saving drugs and procedures, humanity’s path could have been very different.

However, for all that western medicine has to offer, many people are investigating traditional plants and practices that have been used for centuries in other parts of the world. Those who prefer to feel that they are playing an active role in their healthcare choices are particularly interested in more traditional practices that are prevalent in eastern countries.

There are countless herbal- and plant-based medications on the market today, but the kratom plant has garnered quite a bit of buzz recently. However, many people are unfamiliar with kratom, its history in South Asian traditional medicine and its uses today.

Native to Thailand and found in countries throughout the region, kratom is a tree in the coffee family. It can be either deciduous or evergreen, and the difference is dependent on the growing region. The tree is quite large and can reach a height of 30 feet, with some trees reaching 100 feet or more. Its leaves are large and resemble mint leaves in shape.

There are several variations of kratom throughout the Southeast Asian region. In Thailand the most prevalent strains are the red vein and green vein varieties of the leaf. Malay and Borneo strains of the plant can vary slightly from their Thai counterparts, and the strains of the plant grown in Indonesia can vary even further. As demand increases, botanists and farmers are experimenting with different strains and creating new ones.

Kratom’s use in Thailand dates back thousands of years, and includes ceremonial, therapeutic and recreational practices. At many times in history, kratom was used to treat diarrhea and was used as a stimulant, as it has effects very similar to coffee. It also has a lengthy history of use as a pain reliever and as a treatment for opioid dependence.

Scientists all over the world have been studying kratom in recent years, and results are very encouraging. Its use as an effective pain reliever has been confirmed, and its potential use in the treatment of opioid addiction is encouraging. Most research points to little or no risk of side effects and other studies indicate that kratom is effective in treating some forms of anxiety and depression.

While kratom’s benefits have become more widely known outside the Southeast Asian region, there are some questions of legality in reference to this potential wonder plant. In Thailand, where the plant occurs naturally, kratom was illegal for many years. However, the Thai government reversed that stance in October 2013, adding that there should be no stigma attached to kratom’s use. While kratom is still a scheduled drug in Malaysia, the governments of countries such as the United States have yet to weigh in on the topic, which means that kratom is unregulated in the United States at this time, with the exception of the state of Indiana.

As more and more people around the world seek to gain control of their own health and move away from manufactured western pharmaceuticals, plants and herbs like kratom seem poised for incredible growth in the industry. Positive media attention is increasing, and while many scientists state that more research is necessary, they are firm in their stance that kratom’s potential usage should in no way be dismissed outright.

As with any addition to one’s diet or health care regime, research is key. Multiple resources around the web are available for use to learn more about kratom and its benefits. Herbalists or specialists in eastern or holistic medicine can also be wonderful sources of information to both laypeople and the health community. For now, the overwhelming majority of studies praise the substantial benefits and the low risk of using this Thai super plant called kratom.


About the Author: Jennifer Allen is a botany professor with a specific interest in ethnopharmacology.

Categories: General

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