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Where Does Kratom Come From? The Origins of Kratom

Where does kratom come from Indonesian rice harvest.

Kratom has become a mainstay for many Americans over the past 10 years, but for others, it’s only just starting to come onto the radar. The first thing that probably crosses your mind if you’re new to kratom is the non-English-sounding name. Where does kratom come from? And why are many of us only just hearing about this substance now? Join us for a brief history of kratom and how it has become a worldwide phenomenon.


Southeast Asia’s Best-Kept Secret


The answer to “where does kratom come from” takes us deep into the heart of Southeast Asia where hundreds of endemic species flourish in the hot, humid, and often volcanic soils of the lush equatorial tropical jungles and forests. Hidden away in the midst of these extensive jungles grows a tall, evergreen tree with large leaves that has been believed to offer a host of pharmacological properties. This tree is known botanically as Mitragyna Speciosa Korth. and colloquially as kratom, ketum, thom, ithang, and biak, depending on the country and region where the leaves are utilized.


While Mitragyna Speciosa grows naturally throughout Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and the Philippines, the plant has the most extensive history of use in Thailand and Malaysia where the leaves were used by manual laborers to increase their endurance while working long days under the sun. In the next section, we’ll take a look at the modes of consumption that have characterized kratom use over the centuries.


Where Does Kratom Come From


The first documented accounts about where kratom comes from were written by the Dutch botanist Pieter Willem Korthals in the early 1800s. Korthals (abbreviated to Korth.) was sent to the Malay Archipelago as part of the Commission for Natural Sciences by the Dutch East India Service from 1830 to 1837 to identify plants with useful properties, hence the use of the word Korth. as part of the official name of the kratom plant.


In the history of kratom, Mitragyna Speciosa leaves were chewed by farmers, rubber tappers, machine operators, and fishermen while they worked and they would swallow the mix of juice and saliva. This practice was claimed to help boost the workers’ energy and reduce sensations of pain and fatigue. In Malaysia, the leaves were brewed into a tea and served at tea houses. To mask the bitter flavor of the herb, sweeteners or soft drinks are typically added to the tea. Kratom is also used socially and as part of religious ceremonies in Thailand in places where kratom traditionally comes from.


A third, less appealing use for kratom is said to be the making of “cow-dung cigars” — a mixture of kratom leaves, dried cow dung, and tobacco. We definitely don’t recommend trying this experiment at home! Typically, kratom is only smoked in Malaysia, and others will tell you that smoking is not the most effective or pleasant way of using kratom.


More recently, kratom has been used in Malaysia and Thailand, where kratom comes from, as a cheaper substitute for opium and has also been used medicinally for various ailments. In some areas, (primarily Muslim) youth and laborers mix kratom tea into a four-ingredient cocktail known as 4 x 100 along with a caffeinated soft drink, cough syrup, and an anxiolytic, antidepressant, or analgesic drug plus ice. Unfortunately, this cocktail may have contributed to at least one death, as well as drug addiction and family breakdown.


Where Does U.S. Kratom Come From?

Where does kratom come from cargo ship arriving in Seattle.

We’ve answered the question, “where does kratom come from?” Now let’s briefly cover the history of kratom in the United States. While kratom has been something of an underground phenomenon, the appearance of journal articles about the herb as described here gives us some vital clues. In 2012, researchers found that most of the journal articles about kratom had been published in or after 2004, and there have been a far greater number of journal articles published from 2012 until the present.


From these articles, we can ascertain that kratom started out as a specialty product in smoke shops and head shops, and gradually gained most of its steam on the Internet through online vendors who ship to customers around Europe and the United States.


As of 2019, the American Kratom Association estimated that there were over 16 million kratom users in the United States — many of whom self-report using kratom for pain relief and withdrawal from opioids. Where does this kratom come from? Most of this kratom is imported directly from the islands of Indonesia, although there are also now a small number of Americans who are cultivating kratom at home.


Purchase Pure, Original Kratom at Kratom Country


Now that you know the answer to, “where does kratom come from” and the history of kratom, the labels that we put on our products — Bali, Thai, Malay, Indo — will make a lot more sense! Sourced primarily from the islands of Indonesia, the Mitragyna Speciosa powder that we offer is drawn from several varieties from the Southeast Asia region. The best way to become acquainted with kratom is to order a packet (or three) that has been third-party tested for safety and purity. Shop Kratom Country today and receive free samples with every order!


Please note that the US FDA has not approved kratom to be sold for human consumption, sold for external use only. The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. None of the products sold on our website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.