The history of Kratom spans thousands of years, multiple cultures, and tens of government agencies around the globe hoping to gain control. Unfortunately for Kratom users, there has seemingly always been an interest in controlling Kratom’s use in favor of more profitable drugs. However, fortunately for Kratom users, there have been groups of people fighting for the unrestricted and ethical use of Kratom since governments have been banning the natural substance. In this blog, we’re getting into all the nitty-gritty details of the History of Kratom.
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Kratom’s Native Lands
You can find The History of Kratom in the flooded wetlands where it grows wild. Kratom, or Mitragyna Speciosa, was born in Southeast Asia. Some natives consider its leaves sacred, while others are grateful for its medicinal properties.
In the tropical and subtropical regions of Southeast Asia and Africa, Kratom is a part of ceremonial and medicinal practices. Kratom in these traditional medicine practices was used much like it is today: for pain.
Tribal societies used it as a mild stimulant by chewing its leaves. Laborers in the field would often pluck Kratom leaves right from the tree to chew on. This would help them to ward off pain and fatigue throughout their day. Natives also eat it, smoke it, or brew it into a tea with other plants.
Scientists Create the History of Kratom
The first person to formally write about Kratom was Dutch botanist Pieter Willem Korthals in 1839. His finding described Kratom as an opiate alternative by the natives.
In 1859 George Darby Haviland officially classified the species name as Mitragyna Speciosa. Now we call it Kratom because, well, it’s much easier to say!
Scientist L. Wray sent samples of Kratom to Edinburgh University in 1907. Finally, in 1921 Wray isolated the Mitragynine Alkaloid and gave it the name “Mitragynine.”
Laws on Kratom
The history of Kratom continues… Just over 20 years later Kratom became illegal in Thailand on August 3 of 1943. Passing the Kratom Act 2486, the Thai Government bans the planting of this sacred plant. The reason?
Opium, of course! Becoming more expensive in Thailand, the government decided to seize the chance to control the opium market. Unfortunately, Kratom was simply a threat due to its natural opioid-like effects.
Thailand was already in turmoil during the 1930s, and late into that decade brought another World War. Luang Phibunsongkhram ruled Thailand, taking power using the same propaganda techniques spouted by Hitler and Mussolini.
The Government promised its citizens a fully democratic election sometime in 1940. However, by 1939, they started arresting political opponents, monarchists, and democrats. The government rigged their trials, leading to execution. These were the first political executions in over a century.
Mass Media Used and Abused its Power To Shape Support for the Regime
Phibusongkhram passed several strict laws, giving the government power of almost unlimited arrests and complete press coverage.
Opium trade on the black market was one of the largest in demand. In addition to the ban on Kratom, the Thai government passed laws that levied duties and taxes. Across the board, these taxes affected growers and manufacturers, all the way down to distributors, shop owners, and even the end consumer.
The outcome of the laws caused citizens to work in the fields, anywhere from 16-18 hours a day. Kratom became banned, but luckily not forgotten. Instead of these bans causing Kratom to disappear, they simply caused it to go into hiding.
The Kratom plant stayed illegal until a Christmas miracle arrived on December 25, 2018. Kratom was granted legal status in Thailand. Thankfully, the door for medical usage and research has been opened. This will lead to the end of the stigma and fear incorrectly given to the plant throughout the history of Kratom.
The American Kratom Association (AKA) estimated in 2016 three to five million active Kratom users in America. Kratom is legal under federal law in America but regulated on a state-by-state basis.
The American Kratom Association, founded in 2014, works hard to preserve and protect consumers’ freedom in the United States. Across America, the AKA is at work to spread accurate information and fight Kratom bans as they pop up in states. The AKA is doing the dirty work of fundraising, backing science, and lobbying with representatives across the nation to keep Kratom accessible.
Additionally, they provide support to consumers through education. Another goal is to demonstrate responsible use and practical knowledge of Kratom. Finally, to protect natural resources by advocating for sustainable harvesting techniques and reforestation efforts. Get involved on their website for more great information about the history of Kratom and its mission.
Following the popularity of Kratom in the US, it is unsurprising that the FDA took a negative stance on the plant. Remember the Thai government banning Kratom so it could keep its hand in the opium trade? Well, in America, the FDA spouts lies to the people it claims to represent — aiming to ban Kratom in favor of deadly prescription opioids. Especially in the wake of America’s opioid epidemic, it is deplorable to see how the FDA has demonized a safe, natural solution to so many of the problems of opioid use. To read more about the FDA’s history with Kratom, check out this detailed blog.
The History of Kratom — Conclusion
The history of Kratom is a winding path, and it is yet to conclude. Kratom’s history in the United States is short, and there are surely many more developments to come. Thankfully, there are organizations like the AKA that are constantly working to keep Kratom in the hands of the people who need it.