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The Kratom Tree: History of Kratom

The documented history of Kratom, its legal status, reports of its effects, and an overview of its strains.
Green Malay Kratom Leaves


Asia & Ancient Use

Long has man sought relief from daily ailments. Blessed were those from Southeast Asia who were gifted an indigenous kratom tree, providing a new remedy to help treat a variety of symptoms.

Once the kratom tree was discovered it didn’t take long for news of the Kratom leaf to spread, not only geographically, but also in its applications. First documented in Thailand, Kratom was used symbolically as a gift given to guests as a warm welcome. Manuscripts also point to various uses in ancient rituals and ceremonies across Southeast Asia and beyond. Reaching as far as Mongolia, kratom began to spread. Dozens of religions found a spiritual connection to the plant, much as their patrons did.

But kratom was not just used for visiting dignitaries or starry-eyed shamans. Many of its earliest users were the common man, who found kratom a useful additive to their daily schedule in assisting with their work, improving their mood, and generally providing relief from the aching realities of life before modern medicine. Southeast Asian peasant farmers revered the leaf for the aid it provided in an otherwise limited lifestyle, and we’ve seen a multitude of sources through time laud the kratom tree and its benefits.

Western Use (19th Century – Present)

Pieter Korthals, a Dutch botanist who is often credited with bringing kratom into the consciousness of the Western World in the 19th century, is also credited with dubbing the kratom tree with its scientific name, Mitraynga Speicosa, but its complete etymological origin is unclear. Some attribute it to the Dutchman’s clever comparison of the appearance of a kratom leaf to a bishop’s garb; others, the link to its ceremonial roots in ‘Mithraic’ Cults, an order determined to transcendent to the spiritual. Whatever its origin, there is little doubt of its popularity for those who use it.

Despite being illegal in many of its native countries, kratom – often known as ‘ketum’ – is still wildly popular and only growing, used as a ‘traditional’ medicine, as a work aid, and in social settings. The United States alone, a still-nascent market, has an estimated 15 million users. And while the science is young, the American Kratom Association (AKA) – one of many emerging groups who promote the education and responsible use of kratom – recently pushed legislation through the House to increase the pharmacological studies on kratom. Whatever anecdotal evidence has failed to show us will be illuminated by well-funded, academic research, and that stands to benefit not only kratom’s users but those who could one day benefit from it.

Kratom is ancient. It has found its way into all levels of society, regardless of class, race, gender, or affiliation. But its history has only just begun.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Alejandra

    So fun to learn about thank you!

  2. guy

    would like to hear more about how pieter korthals stumbled on kratom – another blog post?

  3. Tom

    Can’t wait for the results of modern research to finally show the world how beneficial kratom really is!

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Nothing in this article is intended to be taken as medical advice. Always consult with your physician before making any choices about your health. Kratom does not cure any diseases. This blog does not suggest that any physician directed medical treatments or programs be replaced by kratom. Kratom should not be used as a replacement for any doctor prescribed medications. Consult with your doctor before you make any decisions regarding kratom. Do not mix kratom with any medications unless you have consulted your doctor first. This space encourages education, moderation, and caution when imbibing information, or any substance. This space does not encourage the consumption of any products as medical treatments, and does not suggest that kratom should be used in place of any doctor prescribed or suggested medicines. Always follow state, local, and federal laws regarding kratom, and all else. This space is intended as a place for educational discourse, contemplation, and conjecture regarding kratom.