In the US herbal and botanical market, Kratom has been the subject of much discussion in the past decade or so. It has gained a lot of appreciation from the passionate kratom enthusiasts. The kratom started as a largely unknown botanical herb when it was first commercially introduced in the US at the turn of the 21st century. However, gradually, it cemented its place in the hearts and minds of the Kratom connoisseurs as it became increasingly famous. After about two decades, Kratom has gained widespread recognition world over as well as in the US. However, even today, some people are unaware as to what kratom is. Or perhaps they have heard about the kratom but don’t really know about its properties, types, or its manufacturing process. In this article, we will answer exactly this question, what is kratom?
Where Does Kratom Come From?
The source of all varieties of Kratom (popularly referred to as kratom strains) is a tree called Mitragyna Speciosa. This tree belongs to the same family as the coffee tree and is found abundantly throughout the Southeast Asian regions. Evolution helped this tree to acclimatize to the hot and humid climatic conditions of the tropical regions. As the tree is well-adapted to the local weather conditions, it thrives in the large and small tropical islands. The soil composition as well as the relatively similar temperatures throughout the year, helps the tree grow to heights of up to twenty-five meters. The mature kratom trees have a bark that is almost 1 meter wide at its thickest point. Up above, the fully-grown Mitragyna Speciosa trees have branches almost fully covered with leaves. These kratom leaves are the source of kratom. More about these leaves later in the article.
This evergreen tree is found naturally all across the forests of Southeast Asia. The tree is native to the following countries where it is rather a common sight:
- Papua New Guinea
How is Kratom Extracted from Mitragyna Speciosa?
In theory, extracting Kratom from the Kratom tree is fairly simple. However, this apparently simple process of manufacturing Kratom involves numerous minute details that are required to be taken care of to produce good quality kratom. These intricate details are well-known by the skilled native traditional farmers and are a jealously guarded tribal secret.
To understand what is kratom, kratom leaves must be discussed in a bit more detail. The Kratom tree grows and sheds leaves throughout the year. The leaves undergo a cycle of life that spans a few months. When these kratom leaves reach their optimal age, the farmers harvest them skillfully without damaging adjacent leaves or branches of the tree. When the leaves are plucked, they are separated based on their vein color (more of this later), size and quality, etc.
In the next stage of the process, the kratom leaves are spread out on the field and exposed to the scorching tropical sun. This process is carried out for several hours a day at a stretch. This process is carried out to remove the water content within the leaves significantly. The dried kratom leaves serve two purposes; firstly they become suitable for the next stage of the process and secondly, the dried leaves can be stored for extended periods without the final product losing its freshness and characteristic properties.
After a few days of periodic sunlight exposure, when the leaves are completely dried up and become brittle, they are crushed manually by the tribal farmers using a mix of vintage and modern techniques. Crushing converts the dried kratom leaves into a fine kratom powder that can be termed as the final product.
Kratom as Part of Native Culture
As far back as the history of those local tribesmen could be traced, records of Kratom being an integral part of native Southeast Asian tribal cultures have been found. Kratom has been an integral part of their communal, social, and religious events for centuries at least. Kratom was already famous with the local population. However, their Western counterparts came to know about it much later.
Discovery by the Westerners
The first scientific record of Mitragyna Speciosa or Kratom tree is attributed to Pieter Korthals, a Dutch botanical expert back in 1839. Two decades later, George Haviland, a British scientist gave the Kratom tree its scientific name that is still used. For the next about 150 years, the kratom remained largely unknown in the West until the US soldiers returning from the Vietnam war brought some of it with them. The herb slowly gained popularity but was not commercially available on a large scale until the end of the 20th century. Around that time, few kratom brands began procuring kratom from Southeast Asian countries and offered their branded kratom powders and kratom capsules in the US.
Over time, numerous businesses began their operations and introduced many more kratom strains in various forms. In the last five years or so, the Kratom has gained unprecedented popularity and support from the masses that has sky-rocketed its popularity further. Today, the passionate kratom enthusiasts can easily find Kratom powders, kratom capsules, kratom extracts, kratom tea, and kratom tablets among many different kratom products.
What is Inside the Kratom Leaves?
If you ask Kratom connoisseurs as to what makes the kratom so popular, their unanimous answer will be the “alkaloids”. The alkaloids make up the molecular structure of Kratom leaves. These alkaloids are solely responsible for the characteristic properties credited to the Kratom powder. As established by many scientific studies on Kratom, there are close to 30 different alkaloids present in some kratom strains. Two main alkaloids are present in all Kratom strains. They are Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. Their combination in different proportions along with the presence of several other alkaloids determines the properties each kratom strain has. Therefore, preferring a certain kratom strain over others is exclusively a matter of personal choice.
What is Kratom Strain?
To answer what is kratom, the kratom strains need to be understood. When the Kratom enthusiasts talk about Kratom strains, they are referring to the many Kratom variations that occur naturally. As the natural variations occur in any species belonging to flora and fauna, the Mitragyna Speciosa trees also vary slightly from one region to another where the temperatures, rainfall, and humidity levels differ slightly. These variations occur as part of the process of natural selection and are the key to survivability and adaptability of species, making them suitable to live in certain climatic conditions.
As a result, their leaves also vary in size, shape, and molecular composition. Primarily, it is the difference in alkaloids in the kratom leaves that make them different from each other. This means that the kratom extracted from one type of Kratom trees is different from others. These variations are called Kratom strains. As discussed earlier, the kratom buyers have their personal favorites for different reasons.
The kratom strains are generally named after the places of their origins. Here are the most famous Kratom strains available in the US:
- Asia Kratom
- Bali Kratom
- Borneo Kratom
- Elephant Kratom
- Horn Kratom
- Indo Kratom
- Maeng Da Kratom
- Malay Kratom
- Sumatra Kratom
- Vietnam Kratom
What is Kratom Leaf Vein Color?
In addition to the different kratom strains, there is another classification that is used to differentiate between Kratom products. That is the color of veins of the kratom leaves from which the kratom is obtained. To put it in simple words and to better comprehend what is kratom color exactly, it is to be understood that the color of the veins is indicative of the alkaloid concentrations within the molecular structure of the kratom leaves. From lower concentrations to higher, the central vein in the kratom leaf transforms from green to white, and then finally red. All three color variations have their dedicated fan following and different kratom enthusiasts have different choices when it comes to choosing the kratom strains or kratom colors.
What is Kratom Called in Local Cultures
The Kratom is known by many different names locally in its native lands as well as abroad. Though not as common as “kratom”, we thought that it would be interesting for you to read some of these titles. They are Biak-Biak, Cratom, Gratom, Ithang, Kakuam, Katawn, Kedemba, Ketum, Krathom, Kraton, Kratum, Madat, Maeng Da Leaf, Mambog, Mitragyna Speciosa, Mitragynine Extract, Nauclea, Nauclea speciose, Thang, and Thom.
Looking to Buy Good Quality Kratom?
If you are new to Kratom, or perhaps even an old-timer who is looking to buy authentic and genuine kratom products then here are a few checks that you can carry out before you decide to buy Kratom from kratom vendors. Any Kratom will be considered as a good quality kratom if it is:
- Completely pure, natural, and authentic.
- Obtained from the most mature trees through sustainable harvesting techniques.
- Procured from the traditional farmers of Southeast Asia.
- Freshly packaged and stored in state-of-the-art warehouses.
- Qualified the strict Quality Control checks and procedures to ensure its quality and required standards.
If you want to buy all your kratom strains and varieties from one trusted and well-established Kratom brand at the most competitive prices, you can visit our website to browse through our inventory of Kratom powders and Kratom capsules.
We hope that this article would have answered your query as to what is kratom. There are many more aspects related to this amazing natural herbal product that a true Kratom enthusiast must be aware of. To gain more knowledge and read about the latest developments in the scientific and social understanding of the kratom, you can visit our kratom blog section where regular contributions are made to help the millions of kratom fans better understand the kratom.