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What Is Kratom? An Inside Look At This Popular Botanical


Kratom is an evergreen tree, indigenous to Southeast Asia and tropical regions of Africa. It is primarily grown in Thailand and Indonesia, where locals have chewed Kratom leaves for centuries. The leaves are also ground into a powder, dried to make tea, extracted into oil, or even cooked into food. Found in the same family of flowering plants as Coffee, the Kratom plant shares many characteristics with our favorite morning beverage.

In Thailand, Malaysia, and other areas where Kratom trees are native, leaves are often chewed or brewed with hot water. Used for a variety of traditional purposes, Kratom is believed to actually predate coffee in terms of human consumption. Kratom’s unique qualities have long been utilized by humans, but it wasn’t until recently that this plant became recognized in the western world. 

Kraken Kratom aims to offer the best quality, most thoroughly tested Kratom products on the market, from powders and extracts to capsules and tablets. We’ll look at Kratom’s history, typical applications and explain what it is in this article.

What Does Kratom Do?

Although the exact mechanism through which Kratom exerts its physiological effects is unknown, scientists believe that mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, two alkaloids found in the leaves, are the responsible parties. Alkaloids are compounds, or phytochemicals, that occur naturally in many plants and may have effects on the human body. More well known examples include caffeine, quinine, and tomatine.

The leaves of Mitragyna speciosa generally contain 1-1.5% mitragynine, thought to be the primary active constituent, along with lower concentrations of related alkaloids which include:

  • 7-hydroxymitragynine
  • Paynantheine
  • Speciogynine
  • Speciofoline

These alkaloids may work together to create an entourage effect, but more research is needed to determine the role of each. Mitragynine is definitely the most dominant alkaloid found in Kratom, making up around 66% of its content. These phytochemicals – and many more – all contribute to Kratom’s unique botanical profile. 

The History of Kratom

Kratom grows natively in many of the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and several other countries. The climate and environmental conditions in these regions are just right for the Kratom tree to thrive naturally. 

For hundreds and possibly thousands of years, Southeast Asian farmers have used Kratom as an herbal ally to enhance their daily labor and other activities. The leaves of the Kratom tree were frequently chewed for a mild effect that could be described as similar to Coffee.

Despite its popularity among native cultures, Kratom remained a mystery to the western world until its discovery in 1839 by Peter Willem Korthals, a botanist with the Dutch East India Service. Originally given the name Stephegyne speciosa, its scientific classification went through several iterations until it was finally officially named Mitragyna speciosa by British surgeon George Darby Haviland. 

Even still, the Kratom plant would disappear from the historical record until a re-emergence of interest in its alkaloids appeared in the 21st century. Today, Kratom has exploded in popularity all across the United States.

Today, Kratom is typically consumed by brewing dried Kratom leaves or powder into a tea, ingesting capsules or tablets, or in the form of extract products, which contain concentrated alkaloids with little to no plant material.

Kratom has been sold around the world for several years and is becoming increasingly popular in North America. The United States stands to be this natural product’s largest consumer market, but its legality varies from one state, county, and city to the next. 

Several efforts have been made over the last decade to classify Kratom as an illegal opioid, but they’ve been blocked, primarily because of the lack of scientific evidence to support the position. There are also increasing concerns that local or statewide bans will negatively affect people who look to Kratom to help improve their daily lives.

While Kratom is currently not scheduled federally, it has been banned in 6 states:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont 
  • Wisconsin 

Kratom has also been outlawed in several individual cities and counties within the 44 states where it’s legal. We created this map to help people visualize Kratom’s legal status by state:

On the flip side, states such as Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Utah, and Oklahoma have created legislation that regulates production and quality control measures. States refer to this as the Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA), which regulates factors such as:

  • Preparation
  • Distribution
  • Sale of adulterated or contaminated products
  • Fines, penalties, and allowed remedies
  • And more

At Kraken Kratom, we have always been leading the way with advocacy, spearheading efforts to protect this amazing natural botanical.

We are the World’s #1 Kratom Brand, and our products can be purchased online and in retail locations all over the U.S.

In addition to our diverse range of products, including liquid Kratom extracts, softgels, gummies, and Kratom capsules—our defining differences include:

  • The highest in GMP and Quality Standards
  • Third-party lab testing
  • Long-standing relationships with our vetted suppliers
  • Longtime member of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA)
  • The first American Kratom Association GMP Qualified Vendor


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