Kratom or mitragyna speciosa is growing in popularity in the west, but it was in the east where it was first discovered and used for its properties as a psychoactive substance. There are many different reasons people use kratom—and some of them may not be perceived to be as healthy as others—but all of them rely on its psychoactive mechanisms to achieve the goal, as may be seen in the list below.
- For pain relief – Kratom is actually a very effective analgesic, comparable to morphine without the unsavory side effects. There are multiple anecdotal reports of it being used to replace traditional analgesics, specifically opiates, with remarkable levels of success, even some where it succeeds at pain management where prescription pain killers do not. The ideal range of pain it can be used to treat is in the mild to moderate category.
- For anxiety relief – Similar to the opiates it is often used to replace, kratom is capable of producing a euphoric “high” for users, which is often used by those suffering from anxiety problems to deal with their issues. Its other effects as a mu-opioid receptor agonist also contribute to its effectiveness as an anxiety-relief medicament, specifically its light sedative properties.
- For treatment of depression – This is not dissimilar to the preceding item (kratom for anxiety relief). As in that case, the euphoria produced by the herb is the typical mechanism used as a solution.
- For energy boosts – While kratom does indeed have a sedative (properly a relaxant) effect, it is also a stimulant, especially at lower doses for those with lower tolerances to the drug, and is used as an energy booster by many people in its native Thailand. Users after this effect tend to be from the lower classes, as the energy boosts associated with the herb are more useful to those doing physical labour.
- For mitigation of opiate withdrawal – Due to its mild withdrawal effects and lower addictive potential, kratom has been used for decades as a withdrawal treatment for people being weaned off opium and similar drugs.
- For recreation – This need not be explained further.
- For treatment of various complaints – The herb has been used as a medicinal herb against various complaints for years in places where it is endemic. Usage here is largely restricted to folk medicine, but some studies have corroborated a few of these traditional usages, e.g. its properties as an antitussive.