KRATOM (Mitragyna speciosa korth)
(Street Names: Thang, Kakuam, Thom, Ketum, Biak)
Kratom, (Mitragyna speciosa korth), is a tropical tree
indigenous to Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and other
areas of Southeast Asia. Kratom is in the same family as
the coffee tree (Rubiaceae). The tree reaches heights of
50 feet with a spread of over 15 feet.
Kratom has been used by natives of Thailand and
other regions of Southeast Asia as an herbal drug for
decades. Traditionally, kratom was mostly used as a
stimulant by Thai and Malaysian laborers and farmers to
overcome the burdens of hard work. They chewed the
leaves to make them work harder and provide energy and
relief from muscle strains. Kratom was also used in
Southeast Asia and by Thai natives to substitute for opium
when opium is not available. It has also been used to
manage opioid withdrawal symptoms by chronic opioid
In 1943, the Thai government passed the Kratom Act
2486 that made planting of the tree illegal. In 1979, the
Thai government enacted the Narcotics Act B.E. 2522,
placing kratom along with marijuana in Category V of a five
category classification of narcotics. Kratom remains a
popular drug in Thailand. It has been reported that young
Thai militants drink a “4×100” kratom formula to make them
“more bold and fearless and easy to control.” The two
“4×100” kratom formulas are described as a mixture of a
boiled kratom leaves and mosquito coils and cola or a
mixture of boiled cough syrup, kratom leaves and cola
served with ice. In this report it was also mentioned use of
that the “4×100” formula was gaining popularity among
Muslim youngsters in several districts of Yala (Southern
Thailand) and was available in local coffee and tea shops.
Kratom is promoted as a legal psychoactive product on
numerous websites in the U.S. On those websites, topics
range from vendors listings, preparation of tea and
recommended doses, to alleged medicinal uses, and user
reports of drug experiences.
There is no legitimate medical use for kratom in the
Chemistry and Pharmacology:
Over 25 alkaloids have been isolated from kratom;
mitragynine is the primary active alkaloid in the plant.
Pharmacology studies show that mitragynine has
opioid-like activity in animals. It inhibits electrically
stimulated ileum and vas deferens smooth muscle
contraction. Through actions on centrally located opioid
receptor, it inhibits gastric secretion and reduces pain
Kratom has been described as producing both
stimulant and sedative effects. At low doses, it produces
stimulant effects, with users reporting increased alertness,
physical energy, talkativeness and sociable behavior. At
high doses, opiate effects are produced, in addition to
sedative and euphoric effects. Effects occur within 5 to 10
minutes after ingestion and last for 2 to 5 hours. Acute side
effects include nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth,
constipation, increased urination, and loss of appetite.
Kratom consumption can lead to addiction. In a study of
Thai kratom addicts, it was observed that some addicts
chewed kratom daily for 3 to 30 years (mean of 18.6 years).
Long-term use of kratom produced anorexia, weight loss,
insomnia, skin darkening, dry mouth, frequent urination, and
constipation. A withdrawal syndrome was observed, consisting
of symptoms of hostility, aggression, emotional lability, wet
nose, achy muscles and bones, and jerky movement of the
limbs. Furthermore, several cases of kratom psychosis were
observed, where kratom addicts exhibited psychotic symptoms
that included hallucinations, delusion and confusion.
Information on the illicit use of kratom in the U.S. is
anecdotal. Based on information posted on the Internet,
kratom is mainly being abused orally as a tea. Chewing
kratom leaves is another method of consumption. Doses of 2
to 10 grams are recommended to achieve the desired effects.
Users report that the dominant effects are similar to those of
Other countries are reporting emerging new trends in the
use of kratom. In the United Kingdom, kratom is promoted as
an “herbal speedball.” In Malaysia, kratom (known as ketum)
juice preparations are illegally available.
Information on user population in the U.S. is limited.
Kratom abuse is not monitored by any national drug abuse
The System to Retrieve Information from Drug Evidence
(STRIDE), a federal database for the seized drugs analyzed by
DEA forensic laboratories, and the National Forensic
Laboratory Information System (NFLIS), which collects drug
analysis information from state and local forensic laboratories,
indicate that there was one drug report of mitragynine, the
primary active alkaloid in kratom, in 2010, 44 reports in 2011,
and 81 reports in the first six months of 2012. Kratom is widely
available on the Internet. There are numerous vendors within
and outside of the U.S. selling kratom. Forms of kratom
available through the Internet include leaves (whole or
crushed), powder, extract, encapsulated powder, and extract
resin “pies” (40g pellets made from reduced extract). Seeds
and whole trees are also available from some vendors through
the Internet, suggesting the possibility of domestic cultivation.
Kratom is not scheduled under the Controlled Substances
Comments and additional information are welcomed by the Drug and
Chemical Evaluation Section; Fax 202-353-1263, telephone
202-307-7183, or Email ODE@usdoj.gov.