The Ancient Origins Of Kratom
The history of Kratom has humble beginnings. Since the beginning of time Kratom flourished across the equatorial regions of Southeast Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The reason that Kratom natively grows in these regions, and nowhere else, is that this region has the perfect combination of year-round tropical weather while simultaneously lacking destructive hurricanes.
It is unknown who the first person was that discovered Kratom, and how exactly it happened. This is because Kratom was likely used before there was any written record. In any case, at some point the ancient cultures in Southeast Asia discovered that Kratom had numerous benefits, and they chewed it, smoked it, and brewed it into tea.
Eventually Kratom became an integral part of traditional medicine in Southeast Asia, and that remains true to this day.
The Western World Discovers Kratom In The 1800s
Although Kratom had been used for thousands of years in Southeast Asia, the Western World was completely oblivious to the existence of Kratom until a Dutch explorer came across Kratom in the 1830s, which is one of the most important events in the history of Kratom.
Specifically, Dutch explorer Pieter Willem Korthals was tasked with exploring the islands of Java, Borneo, and Sumatra in Indonesia, since the Dutch controlled Indonesia at the time and wanted to have a better understanding of the territory.
Since Java, Borneo, and Sumatra are Kratom growing hotspots, with dense and ancient Kratom forests, it is no surprise that Korthals ‘discovered’ Kratom, especially since the people who lived there used Kratom as a traditional medicine.
Korthals decided that the leaves of the Kratom tree looked like the Mitre hat that bishops wear, and gave Kratom the scientific name Mitragyna Speciosa.
Kratom Research Begins In Earnest In The Late 1800s
Although Korthals found Kratom back in the 1830s, there was essentially zero mention of Kratom after that until the late 1800s. At that point Kratom began to pop up in scientific literature in the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. Specifically, a scientist named E.M. Holmes Began to spearhead Kratom research around 1895.
Kratom Makes It’s Way To The United States In The Late 1900s
Kratom research continued to trickle in throughout the 1900s, but all evidence indicates that no one in the Western World was using Kratom until perhaps the 1980s.
One of the earliest Kratom pioneers from America was Terrance Mckenna, a famous ethnobotanist. Mckenna apparently went to Southeast Asia in the 1980s, collected Kratom samples, and planted some Kratom trees at his ethnobotanical nursery in Hawaii.
It is unclear when exactly people in the United States began using Kratom. The earliest possible time was likely the 1980s. In the 1990s there are more indications that Kratom began to enter the United States, but even in the 1990s it appears Kratom use was quite scarce, with perhaps only a few smoke shops offering it.
Kratom Popularity Skyrockets In The New Millennium, In Response To An Exploding Opioid Crisis
Kratom finally began to become more widespread in the United States and the rest of the Modern World right after the turn of the millennium. Essentially, between 2000-2010 online vendors began offering Kratom, and eventually Kratom began to make it onto the shelves of smoke shops across America.
Then between 2010-2020 the number of online Kratom vendors and smoke shops which offered Kratom proliferated, to the point that Kratom can be found in stores on practically every block and hundreds of different internet sites.
The reason that Kratom went from being an unknown ancient medicine to one of the most popular ethnobotanicals in the Modern World is intimately tied with the opioid crisis. Basically, in the late 1990s and early 2000s Oxycontin was launched, which quickly led to a prescription opioid epidemic and the rise of pill mills. This in turn led to a surge of Heroin and Fentanyl abuse, as the government instituted regulations to control the supply of prescription opioids.
The end result was that people were desperately looking for alternatives, and people collectively discovered that Kratom is an alternative. Now 15 million Americans use Kratom, and that number is rapidly rising.
The Future Of Kratom
Thus, that is a brief history of Kratom from its ancient origins to its modern popularity. Where Kratom goes from here largely depends on how the government will treat Kratom. If Kratom is left undisturbed it is likely that the number of Americans using Kratom will rise by tens of millions. That being said, there are many threats against Kratom’s legality due to misinformation spread by Big Pharma, and it will require vigorous efforts to keep Kratom legal.