Taking a Closer Look at These New Bedfellows
When I was first asked about kratom, I couldn’t quite find the words. Vague anecdotes and clumsy verbiage did little to explain the nuance and impact kratom has had not only on my life, but many others who have shared their story. While Theodore Roosevelt — who is replete with witticisms — was known to say that “Comparison is the Death of All Joy”, the inadequacies of language often leave us dependent on the dependable analog. And so when asked about kratom, I often resort to a now near-ubiquitous refrain.
It’s — It’s Kind of Like Coffee
It is ironic, then, that someone who has rarely enjoyed the brewed bean would be able to aptly deploy such a comparison. While I don’t drink coffee, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone ignorant to its appeal and effects, and I’ve had those who both consume coffee and use kratom confirm that this is an apt enough description. The more I looked into it, I began to learn that the relationship between coffee and kratom isn’t merely a shorthand workaround for bumbling linguists looking to explain the effects of kratom to someone who has yet to try it — rather, that kratom and coffee share quite a relationship.
As the popularity of kratom increases and a wider demographic adopts the salve into their daily repertoire, the overlap between coffee drinkers and kratom users has increased. Whether by inevitable crossover or intentioned experimentation, the combination of kratom and the popular coffee used together has gained substantial merit across the community. For many, the question really is: does kratom contain caffeine? For an early morning kickstart, coffee and kratom would ease the lethargy of the droll Monday morning into something far more tolerable. The ‘stacked’ effects gained from kratom and coffee — with increased focus and burgeoned energy — seem to amplify each other, instead of adding independently. Conversely, those who use a strain of kratom that is more focused on the soothing effects may also find that strain of kratom to induce drowsiness. Coffee may be used to combat this effect and thus strike a balance. Or, as another user pointed out to me, coffee can provide the initial boost to shake the morning cobwebs loose, and then near lunch, kratom usage mitigates the coffee collapse and maintains energy levels for the afternoon push.
But coffee and kratom are bound by more than just synergistic effects; they belong to the same plant genus. The plant family of Rubiaceae is vast, but as the lineage specifies, kratom and coffee remain closely grouped. Both plants produce alkaloids, which are the main ingredient responsible for their respective effects, being mitragynine and caffeine. While these alkaloids differ greatly in their structure, their similarity in effect is hardly a surprise when considering the close genetic relations of kratom and coffee.
It’s soothing to be reminded that a plant like kratom, which has withstood unfounded criticism, is simply a tree sharing much in common with coffee, something which isn’t scrutinized, even though it has substantial addictive potential. Despite their close relation, kratom does face this criticism, revealing a double standard. An inference from these facts may suggest an issue with kratom being based more on political posturing than scientific research.
For the kratom community, the plant remains a beneficial aspect of many lives, regardless of the vitriol directed at it. As kratom emerges further into the public consciousness, pairing it with other everyday products becomes apparent, providing further evidence of its innocuous and agreeable nature.
Monday morning? With kratom and coffee, it may just be something to look forward to.