Mitragyna Speciosa (Kratom) is a Southern Thai plant from the Rubiaceae family, the same family as Coffee, that has been gaining popularity worldwide since the 2000s, being sold in Bars, Online shops, and Headshops. Although the plant has gained all its popularity fairly recently we can find scriptures, books, or historical videos of the plant, natives would regularly chew it for a few seconds and spit it out or store it in their gums until 1943 as the country was heavily involved in Opium sales, between 8 to 21% of national revenue was financed thru illegal opium sales by the government, users switched to Kratom to wing themselves off the Opium crisis, leading to a huge loss of Revenue. 

The solution the Thai government came up with was to turn the plant illegal, to prevent the loss of revenue keeping people addicted to Opium. This measurement lead to the arrest of several people, the loss of culture, and the deforestation of various Kratom forests leaving only one Kratom forest available today, the last forest is part of a national park, with extremely difficult access, booby traps placed by poachers, governmental tension, and criminal activities. Poaching is an activity that still goes on today, unfortunately, just like Peyote poachers, the poachers are able to sell their plants at high prices and contraband them to different countries, such as Malaysia and the Philippines often cutting down the entire trees to access the leaves, being that the reason of why there’s only one last Kratom Forrest available worldwide. 

As the percentages of ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, and inbuilt stress raises the percentage of prescribed antidepressant raises as well. Today, as the Epidemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 progresses the percentage of anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia prescribed medication in the United States has raised 21% from February to March alone. 

On the other hand, some people choose a botanical resource instead of the prescribed medication and use Kratom for chronic pain, depression, and anxiety, however, we cannot let the addictive side of Kratom in the shadows, as the plant is from the same family as coffee it has some addictive properties, just like coffee. 

Unlike Coffee, in large doses Kratom(8grams+) has a sedative effect with the ability to induce less respiratory depression makes it a whole different category of Opioid, some connoisseurs believe Kratom could even be a substitute to Morphine. After several attempts of legalizing Kratom in Thailand in 2004, 2009, and 2013. This year the step was finally attended, the predictions aim for the end of 2020 or early 2021 for the legalization of the plant in some regions of Thailand, despite these developments there are limitations determined by the government, these criteria are yet to be published, the amendments will only affect once they are published by the Royal Thai Gazette, meanwhile, distributing, possessing or producing Kratom and Kratom related products remain illegal. 

The possibility that Kratom will be cultivated, sold and possibly used medicinally is something to note and a huge step towards the legalization of Plant Medicine in Thailand. Studies published on December 4th 2020 draw our attention to the three main alkaloids of Kratom for their demonstrated antinociceptive activity in vivo. Those main alkaloids are Mitragynine, the oxidized active metabolite 7-hydroxymitragynine,  and the indole-to-spiropseudoindoxy product of mitragynine, mitragynine pseudoindoxyl. Even tho these alkaloids have been shown to activate the G protein signaling pathway by  binding and allosterically modulating the μ-opioid receptor, the molecular understanding of  this process is still lacking and this process is very important when it comes to design  improved therapeutics. 

  • Giving this information could Kratom be an alternative and a more natural option for Opioids and Antidepressants?

Users believe so! Some users risk themselves for legal trouble worldwide to seek better options other than their prescriptions, the reason why we have been observing such a massive growth of alternative  medicine just like Ayahuasca as a cure for Depression, Psilocybin containing mushrooms for  Anxiety and PTSD and on a further extent Ibogaine for Addiction. 

  • Could Kratom end a crisis of opioids and antidepressants?

I personally think that just like Cannabis and recently Psilocybin containing mushrooms Kratom is definitely a right step towards that direction, keeping in mind, it’s a solution that can certainly be improved, the legalization of Kratom worldwide would be the full step towards the end of the crisis, just like the legalization of every other substance and plant medicine, with certain precautions and limitations, making these substances and plants legal the range of compounds of chemical research would be broadly extended for Scientific progress for drug design derived from these substances to cure depression, fight against anxiety and cure addiction. 

Kratom seedlings


Yuchen Zhou, Steven Ramsey, Davide Provasi, Amal El Daibani, Kevin Appourchaux, Soumen

Chakraborty, Abhijeet Kapoor, Tao Che, Susruta Majumdar, and Marta Filizola* (2020) “Predicted

Mode of Binding to and Allosteric Modulation of the μ-Opioid Receptor by Kratom’s Alkaloids with Reported Antinociception In Vivo’’ 

ACS Publications:​                            

Debra J. Brody, M.P.H., and Qiuping Gu, M.D., Ph.D. (2020) “Antidepressant Use Among Adults: United States, 2015-2018’’  CDC 

Bethany Ao (2020) “More people are using antidepressants and antianxiety medications during coronavirus pandemic: survey’’  The Philadelphia Inquirer 20200424.html 

John Mendiola, (2020) “The Legal Status of Kratom in Thailand’’  Silk Legal

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