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Traditional Use of kratom – History, Traditional Medicine, Ritual and Ceremonial Use, Indigenous Use, Social and Cultural Significance

Traditional use of kratom - History, Traditional Medicine, Ritual and Ceremonial Use, Indigenous Use, Social and Cultural Significance

The traditional use of kratom has a rich and vibrant history. Kratom, also known by its scientific name Mitragyna speciosa, has a long history rooted in Southeast Asia. Kratom is native to Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. Indigenous communities in these regions have been using kratom for centuries, if not longer.

In the article below we will discuss

  • History of Kratom
  • Traditional Medicine of Kratom
  • Ritual and Ceremonial Use of Kratom
  • Indigenous Use of Kratom
  • Social and Cultural Significance of Kratom
The kratom leaves have traditionally been consumed by chewing or brewing into tea. Other than medical purposes, kratom was also used for non-medical purposes in these cultures. They were used for spiritual traditions and to guests as a form of a snack. The plant was also used for its euphoric effectumts and stimulant effects. The different varieties of kratom contain different effects. In such times, farmers or laborers in these areas used the plant for purposes like fatigue reduction and productivity. This was so that they could work for longer periods.

What is the history of Kratom in Thailand?

The history of kratom in Thailand is complicated. It is characterized by a complex relationship, marked by periods of both acceptance and prohibition. The raw leaves have been used in the region for many centuries, thanks to their many potential benefits. The indigenous communities have recognized the potential of the plant and have put it to use for many purposes for countless years. However, in the early 20th century, things changed. The Thai government started to implement restrictions due to its potential for abuse. This ultimately culminated in the Kratom Act in 1943, making the plant illegal. Despite the ban, kratom continued to be used in some rural communities. In such regions, it held cultural and traditional significance.

On August 24, 2021 the Thai government removed kratom from the list of controlled narcotics under the Narcotics Act B.E. 2522 (1972).  Presently it can only used for non-commercial purposes or medicinal purposes. It is technically not illegal. But, there are still regulations and restrictions for its production, sale, and consumption. The Thai government has been considering potential revisions to the regulations surrounding kratom.

What are the Ritual and Ceremonial Use of Kratom?

Kratom’s ritual and ceremonial use refers to the practice of incorporating Kratom into traditional rituals, ceremonies, and cultural activities in the regions where it is indigenous, such as Southeast Asia. Here are some key aspects of Kratom’s ritual and ceremonial use:

  1. Spiritual and Cultural Significance: In certain indigenous communities, Kratom holds spiritual and cultural significance. It may be used in ceremonies and rituals to connect with ancestral spirits or as a symbol of cultural identity.

  2. Community Bonding: Kratom has been used as a social facilitator, bringing communities together during gatherings and celebrations. It is often consumed in a group setting, promoting social interactions and unity.

  3. Ceremonial Consumption: Kratom leaves are prepared and consumed in various ways during rituals and ceremonies. This may involve chewing the fresh leaves, brewing them into a tea, or creating special preparations based on cultural practices.

  4. Symbolism: Kratom’s use in rituals and ceremonies can symbolize themes like renewal, purification, and the balance between humans and nature. Its consumption is often accompanied by prayers, chants, or rituals specific to the community.

  5. Traditional Healing: Some ceremonies involving Kratom may have healing aspects, aiming to address physical or spiritual ailments within the community. Kratom may be seen as a tool for healing and well-being.


Was Kratom used Traditional Medicine?

Yes, Kratom has a history of traditional use as a form of traditional medicine in the regions where it is native, such as Southeast Asia. Indigenous communities in these areas have used Kratom leaves for various medicinal purposes for many years. It has been used as a remedy for ailments like pain, diarrhea, and fatigue. The leaves were often chewed or brewed into a tea for their therapeutic effects.

However, it’s essential to note that the traditional use of Kratom has been a topic of debate and research due to its complex pharmacology and potential risks. While it has been traditionally used as medicine, its safety and efficacy are still subjects of scientific investigation, and regulatory approaches vary by region. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using Kratom or any herbal remedy for medicinal purposes, especially in areas where it may not be regulated or legal.

What is Kratom’s Indigenous Use?

The origin of Kratom dates back centuries, with its roots deeply intertwined in the cultural practices Indigenous use and ethnobotanical use in Southeast Asia. Indigenous to countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, Kratom, scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, was not only a botanical curiosity but an integral part of the lives of the people in these regions. Its use can be traced to the 19th century, if not earlier, where it was revered for its medicinal properties.

What is Social and Cultural Significance of Kratom?

Beyond its medicinal applications, Kratom held cultural significance. In some regions, it was used in religious ceremonies and social gatherings. The communal use of Kratom fostered a sense of unity among communities, where the shared experience of chewing Kratom leaves forged bonds and traditions that persisted through generations.

For more information on the history of kratom and current state contact MitWellness.

Todd A. Underwood



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