Where Does Kratom Come From?
Although it’s not native to the United States, the country is home to the world’s largest national kratom market. One recent publication suggests that the domestic kratom industry records upwards of $1.13 billion in annual sales.
Unfortunately, there seems to be little reliable information about kratom in circulation. That’s why we’re writing — to bring more legitimacy to the international kratom industry. In this piece, we’ll explain the most common origins of kratom in today’s market.
A Brief Introduction
As we’ve mentioned several times across our blog, there isn’t much research behind kratom. Although several reputable studies have been published, there’s not much research about kratom due to the fact it hasn’t been popular for long and because it’s been treated by some like an illegal drug. One major source of criticism has been the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which tried to get kratom scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act for several years [LINK TO #1].
Due to its unrightfully lacking reputation, organizations, government agencies, and universities haven’t poured much money into kratom research. This is highly likely to change over the next few years thanks to the efforts of the American Kratom Consumers and pro-kratom advocates across the country.
In the mean time, however, we’ve collected personal testimonies and anecdotes from kratom harvesters and consumers alike to compile this resource about the most common sources of kratom.
The overwhelming majority of kratom imported by the United States comes from Indonesia.
In case you didn’t know, Indonesia is the world’s fourth-most populated country with 270 million residents. For context, it’s roughly 20% the size of the United States. Most of its residents live on the islands of Sumatra and Java, which are densely packed with Indonesians.
With little land to go around, there isn’t much room for farming. Much of these islands’ flora has been cut down to hold Indonesia’s ever-growing population.
Indonesia lays claim to about three-fourths of the island of Borneo. Indonesia’s part of Borneo is called Kalimantan. Kalimantan is split into five regions: West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, and North Kalimantan. Talk about a whole lot of Kalimantans!
Kalimantan doesn’t have as nearly as many inhabitants as the rest of Indonesia. Borneo, which is known for its dense jungles, is home to tons of wild Mitragyna speciosa trees. Most kratom gets harvested by hard-working locals who rake it off of the forest floor. They then sort through the leaves to get rid of everything that isn’t kratom.
After harvesting kratom leaves, processors usually dry them by spreading them across the ground. Some place them on drying racks, whereas others string them along and hang them in the air.
Once the leaves have dried, processors may cure leaves using one of several methods. Exposure to UV light and Sun-drying are two popular methods that change the kratom leaves’ alkaloid profile.
As of Jan. 2021, Thailand still considers kratom illegal for general use. After decades of criminalizing the plant, however, the country made kratom legal for medicinal consumption in 2018.
Recently, Thai Minister of Justice Somask Thepsutin asked the country’s House of Representatives to formally decriminalize Mitragyna speciosa. Although it isn’t known whether the country will follow through with the Minister of Justice’s recommendation, his efforts certainly lead us to believe that Thailand may soon open its arms to the botanical supplement.
Although most kratom comes from Indonesia, this isn’t because Indonesia is the only place where kratom grows. Since Indonesia happens to own the area where most kratom actively grows, the country is naturally the world’s leading exporter of the plant.
Kratom is also native to Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea. In case you need a refresher, Myanmar is part of the Indochinese peninsula. Papua New Guinea is just above Queensland, Australia, on the western half of the island of New Guinea.
Malaysia, the last country where kratom grows naturally, takes up roughly one-fifth of Borneo. Although part of Malaysia is in the Indochinese Peninsula, most Malaysian kratom comes from Borneo.