It’s been used traditionally as both a medicine and a textile. It’s reportedly helpful for treating drug addiction, and its consumption has never resulted in a documented death from toxic overdose. But the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers it a dangerous drug with no medical value.
No, this isn’t about Cannabis. This is about the leaves of a native Southeast Asian tree commonly known as “Kratom.” Its official botanical name is Mitragyna speciosa, and it’s the only natural source of opioid alkaloids other than the poppy plant.
Mitragyna is a small genus in the Rubiaceace family, which includes coffee. Like coffee, Kratom acts as a mild stimulant, an invigorating energy supplement, but only in low doses. At higher doses, it causes a narcotic-like effect and functions as an opiate substitute.