What Does Kratom Look Like?

Kratom has long been used in Southeast Asia as a stimulant and pain reliever. In recent years it’s picked up interest in the U.S. That’s raised alarm bells because of fears it could be habit-forming. Read on to learn how to identify kratom.

Last Edited:

01/04/2022

Medical Reviewer:

Dr. Tasnova Malek

Clinically Reviewed:

09/02/2021

Kratom is derived from the glossy green leaves of a tropical tree (Mitragyna speciosa) native to Southeast Asia. As a drug, it has fans and foes alike.

Kratom proponents insist it’s a good substitute for opioids, and that it can even help people work through narcotics addiction. (That’s still anecdotal, however.)

Others use kratom as a stimulant. That’s fitting, perhaps, since kratom is part of the coffee family. Small amounts reportedly produce a boost in energy and make users feel more sociable and alert.

There are two compounds found in kratom leaves:

  • Mitragynine
  • 7-a-hydroxymitragynine

Kratom interacts with opioid receptors in the brain. It acts as a stimulant in low doses and users feel more energetic. It also reduces pain in higher doses and may cause euphoria. It acts as a sedative in very high doses.

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According to the pro-kratom American Kratom Association, the substance first came to the United States after the Vietnam War. In Southeast Asia it’s been used for centuries. Immigrants and returning U.S. soldiers brought it stateside. Sometimes it’s drunk like coffee or tea in the morning for a burst of energy and mood enhancement. Many use kratom to manage chronic pain or treat opioid withdrawal.

There’s a push and pull between banning kratom outright, but fans insist it has its good points.

There are negative accounts, too, including dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, chills, dizziness, Constipation, increased urination and itchiness. Worse yet are reports of seizures or cardiac arrest. It’s not always clear if the problems occur from kratom alone if the troubles begin when other substances are taken concurrently. The presence of other drugs is a factor in many fatalities. The National Poison Data System analyzed data in 2019 and they found that between 2011-2017, there were 11 deaths associated with kratom exposure. 9 of the 11 deaths reported uses of kratom plus other drugs and medicines.

Because of concerns, Kratom has been banned in some states. Where it’s still legal, it’s not hard to track down. Shoppers find it online, in tobacco and head shops, or even at gas stations.

What Does Kratom Look Like

Kratom comes in many forms, including powders and pills. Different strains that promise different effects are also available. Packets of green powder are often labeled not for human consumption. Powders tend to be most common. People take it in several ways:

  • Pill or capsule
  • Extract
  • Chewing the leaves
  • Brew the dried or powdered leaves into a tea
  • Smoking or vaping
  • Added to food and eaten

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What Color is Kratom

Kratom is available in several strains (red, yellow, green, and white vein varieties, for example) with several purported effects. The color isn’t so much about the leaves but indicates something about the harvesting or drying process, or sometimes the blend. (White might be harvested early, for example, but red could be picked mature.)

As a powder kratom colors range mostly in the green spectrum: from a vivid Matcha to chartreuse, mossy, and olive hues. Sometimes it’s the color of dried and pulverized ginger root, or bears a resemblance to ground nutmeg or cocoa.

Because there are various strains and it being powdered there’s no quick answer to kratom’s exact physical appearance (apart from identifying the plant by sight, with its elongated and ribbed dark green leaves that grow approximately seven inches in length and taper to a point).

As capsules, kratom will look like just about any kind of herbal supplement.

Figuring out how to identify kratom isn’t always easy, even if the label says it’s so. (There is a chance it could be laced with something even more dangerous.)

Kratom also is not approved or regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of concerns that it may be addictive and have high abuse potential. It could be risky to take with other substances, too. Side effects like nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, seizures, hallucinations, and sometimes psychosis have raised alarm among critics.

Sources

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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