Athletes are always looking to push the envelope, whether it be in the context of performance or recovery. Anyone whose profession revolves around peak physical performance is typically willing to try any type of herb that could possibly help them. There is emerging anecdotal evidence that kratom could be one of these herbs, but there has been no official government-backed scientific studies to back these claims. To answer whether kratom can be useful for athletes, you first need to understand the science of the plant as well as the complex legal situation.
The History and Legality of Kratom
Kratom, also known as mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical evergreen tree native to the jungle climates of Southeast Asia. It is related to the coffee tree, which is a big reason why the leaves of the plant work so well as a base for a tea. It reaches about 75 feet in height and has a trunk about three feet in diameter. Kratom can technically be grown at home if you live in the right climate, but it is notoriously hard to cultivate and takes a long time to grow to maturity.
Close to 95 percent of the world’s commercial kratom is grown on the Indonesian islands. Their climate is perfect for it and many citizens of Indonesia make their living from the kratom industry. It has been used in traditional cultures of the area as both a stimulant and a relaxant. While this sounds contradictory, it is actually possible for the same plant to produce different “veins” of kratom, which produce different effects according to anecdotal testimonials.
There are three main “veins” of kratom – white, green, and red. The colors refer to the vein colors of the leaves at the time of harvesting. The vein is white/light yellow earliest in the maturity cycle, green in the middle, and red towards the end of the maturity cycle. This means that every strain of kratom also comes in three different vein varieties. Anecdotal testimonials from kratom enthusiasts suggests that white tends to provide more of a stimulant effect, while red trends to more relaxing effects.
It is suspected that alkaloid content during the different stages of the maturity process has something to do with these allegedly different effects. No official scientific evidence authorized by a government organization proves this, though. The FDA does not approve of the use of kratom for human consumption. Some people incorporate kratom extract into recovery cream, which is a common use for athletes
With that being said, kratom is still federally legal, but it is completely unregulated. It is also illegal in some states, cities, and local municipalities. It is important to know your local kratom laws.
Safely Incorporating Kratom into Your Recovery Routine
There is anecdotal evidence from people who make athletics and fitness a core part of their lives that kratom is useful for the recovery process. There is a bare-knuckle fighting company that sponsors a kratom brand. Several MMA enthusiasts, most notably Joe Rogan, have explored kratom as a part of their own recovery. If you are interested in this, it is important to do it safely.
First, make sure you only get kratom from a vendor who is a certified member of the American Kratom Association’s good manufacturing standards program. The AKA is the top advocacy organization within the kratom industry, and one of their main initiatives is their vendor program. Members have to pass a strict audit to earn their badge of approval. The purpose is to voluntarily comply with standards that the FDA would set if the government decided to officially regulate kratom for human consumption.
Second, make sure you familiarize yourself with all of the possible health risks. As with any herb you consume, you should always run it by your physician. You want to make sure it doesn’t do anything bad to your health.
Finally, set realistic expectations. Just like any other recovery product on the market, there is a limit to its effectiveness. Go into your experimentation without getting your hopes too high. Don’t let hype influence the feedback your body is giving you.
Let us know how incorporating kratom into your recovery routine works out for you.