The leaves of the Mitragyna javanica plant are used to produce many effects, including pain relief and euphoria. They’re traditionally chewed on by kratom eaters or mixed into tea. The herb is also sold as a dietary supplement and is available in capsules, powders, and extracts. While it’s often touted as a natural remedy for depression, anxiety, and opioid withdrawal, there is insufficient evidence to support these claims. The FDA has sent warning letters to kratom sellers for making false health claims.
While the exact mechanisms of kratom’s effects aren’t well understood, scientists believe the alkaloids it contains bind to receptors in the brain to produce its stimulant and sedative properties. The leaf’s chemical composition depends on the specific variety and age of the plant, as well as the growing conditions and environment in which it was grown. Most kratom products contain several alkaloids, with mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine being the most common.
Kratom has become popular among those seeking a natural way to relieve pain and boost energy. It’s also been marketed as a treatment for opioid addiction, though some doctors are concerned about its risks and say that more research is needed.
To make kratom tea, whisk powdered leaves with hot water until the mixture is smooth. Add a sweetener, if desired. The powder can degrade if exposed to high temperatures, so it’s important to stir the liquid thoroughly. The brew should be hot but not boiling, so the leaf can dissolve completely. Some people add ginger and cinnamon to the mix to enhance flavor.