Awareness and Understanding of Kratom Continues to Rise in Asia


Kratom is a plant that while not as globally renowned as marijuana, is quickly harbouring the same extent of controversy and fierce debate the world over. At first glance, this plant is seemingly non-descript. Light green in colour with red veins, Kratom plants typically stand at around two metres tall when fully grown. This endemic tropical plant is found only in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Papua New Guinea. A member of the coffee family, one could be forgiven for simply thinking that this is a plant whose nature is used for mild stimulation and pain relief. These days, Kratom is now exported and sold in powdered form. This might all seem quite safe, until you realise that Kratom stimulates the same brain receptors as morphine (though, to be fair, with significantly milder effects). Citing this exact reason, regions throughout Asia – including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand – have banned the consumption of Kratom (though Indonesia doe still currently allow for the exportation of it in an unprocessed form).

In small quantities, Kratom acts like a stimulant (or, like a less intense version of cocaine). In large doses, however, Kratom does affect the body similarly to opioids. This is obviously where the danger lies, and why there has been such a significant crack down on Kratom in recent months. In the USA, the FDA has begun to weaponize the opioid label against Kratom users, but the debate surrounding the plant extends from abroad in countries like the US, right back to its origins in Asia. All throughout the developing world – including the natural homes of Kratom (i.e. throughout Asia) – there is a rising awareness and in-depth understanding relating to Kratom. Interestingly, Kratom has been used for brain stimulation, relaxation, insomnia, and pain relief (depending on which strain one ingests) in the form of tea, for centuries.  But as time has gone on, more and more evidence to suggest there are significant risks involved in ingesting Kratom in large doses, have resulted in rising concern.

The backwaters of Indonesia’s Borneo are home to the global production and export of Kratom. And while the export is allowed only in unprocessed form, Kratom is sold overseas and used illegally in Asia in the form of capsules, tablets, powder, and even liquid (not unlike CBD oil). With many strains and forms available for sale and consumption, there are many people who have claimed in the past, and continue to claim, that it has been a tremendous help to them overcoming various ailments. The problem lies in the fact that, given the intense nature of Kratom in large doses, it can become addictive, leading to some people to abuse and even overdose and pass away from using the drug. Couple that with the fact that this is a substance that is rarely (if ever) regulated, and it makes for a dangerous drug. Asian regions are all too aware of this, with many of them taking the legal action to ensure that it is not legally available, and that strict consequences await those who do take it, in any form.

It seems that Asia has fully realised the potential risks associated with the ingestion of the plant, and now they are making moves to ensure that the same awareness and in-depth understanding they have accumulated is being extended to the rest of the world, as best they can. In the developing world, this is an action that has not always been taken in the past, and that has resulted in devastating consequences. And while many people are fighting against the newly enforced regulations, they are entirely justified. When the death toll begins to rise, a problem can quickly spiral into an epidemic, and that is something that nobody wants. Thankfully, it looks like Kratom will be illegal unless given in medicinal doses, as Thailand has recently allowed for medicinal marijuana and Kratom to be allowed within the country. The controversy surrounding the ongoing issue of Kratom and its illegality seems, for now, to be ongoing.

Not unlike marijuana, Kratom has undergone its fair share of controversy and fierce debate, but in recent months the controversy has hit an all-time high, as more and more people are overdosing on the plant after ingesting it. An endemic tropical plant, Kratom is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, and has been used for centuries as a solution for multiple ailments, including (but not limited to) brain stimulation, relaxation, insomnia, and pain relief (depending, of course, on which strain one ingests). Over time, however, the developing world’s awareness and understanding of Kratom has resulted in much of Asia banning the ingestion of the plant. Now, Asia is hoping to set a new standard that will enforce stricter attitudes towards the plant-based drug. 

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