Kratom is a tree that grows naturally in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Its leaves have traditionally been used as medicine, but now they’re also being used as a recreational drug.
Doctors believe some substances in kratom attach themselves to the same parts of a nerve cell as opioid painkillers and create a similar effect in your brain. But there haven’t been a lot of detailed studies into how it works or why.
Doctors warn that it may have serious side effects and could be addictive. Because of that, several states have banned kratom products, and it’s considered a controlled substance in Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, and some European countries. In 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed banning kratom at the federal level, but they dropped that proposal to give scientists more time to study it.
How Is Kratom Used?
Traditionally, kratom leaves were chewed, brewed into tea, or used in cooking. Today it’s ground up in pills, or crushed and smoked like tobacco or marijuana.
It has different effects at different doses. In low doses, it’s a stimulant that makes you feel more energetic. At high doses, it can make you sleepy or put you in a dreamlike state.