The MMA Drug Nobody Is Talking About: KRATOM

Fightland Blog

By Nick "The Tooth" Gullo

Photo via Flickr user Ahmad Fuad Morad

A professional athlete spends 97.92% of his waking hours trying to best the competition: training, eating, resting, watching videos, downing supplements, listening to motivational talks, blasting death metal, even masturbating and sex—all manipulated to eek out the slightest advantage.

Two weeks ago, while sparring on the mats I dropped for an over/under pass and my partner defended by grabbing the back of my arm and wrenching, inadvertently ripping my shoulder out of socket.

I haven’t slept since.

Well, that’s an exaggeration—I actually doze off, and after a few hours roll onto the shoulder and wake with a scream behind my teeth. Then I stretch it for fifteen, and drift again.

Rinse and repeat every two hours. Miserable.

But that’s nothing compared to the injuries professional MMA fighters walk with, train through, day in and day out: broken fingers, dislocated shoulders, torn meniscus, tendonitis. Still sparring, conditioning, hitting bags and mitts.

Welcome to the pain game. Veterans know from either first-hand experience, or watching friends spiral, that prescription pain relief only leads to tolerance and addiction… so what’s a fighter to do?

Cannabis is an option—it’s hailed for both muscle aches and inflammation—but for now, state athletic commissions are stuck in the dark ages, and don’t recognize medical prescriptions, so, once again, what’s a fighter to do?

Meet Kratom, the underground medicinal plant touted as a treatment for heroin withdrawal, attention deficit disorder, and chronic pain. I’d heard the herb mentioned in gyms, and know several elite fighters that rely upon its curative properties.

So we’re clear, Kratom is totally legal. As of now, the U.S. government won’t lock you in a cage for buying or ingesting the wild plant. Radical concept, I know.

The Tech
Kratom is a tropical tree indigenous to Southeast Asia. Natives through the region chew the leaves to treat a variety of ailments. Only the Thai government outlawed the plant seventy years ago, because its widespread use decreased tax revenues from opium sales.

For the chemists out there, Kratom’s active ingredient is mitragynine. From what I gather, it’s an indole alkaloid, but don’t ask what that means as I just copied it from Wikipedia.

Anyhow, natives pick and dry the leaves. Fed Ex delivers ‘em to the states, for you to purchase at a local smoke shop. A month’s supply will run you roughly $30-$50.

I opted for a bottle of 50 pills, 600mg each. Many shops also offer raw leaves, for boiling in a tea. Websites recommend dosages from 3 to 7 grams, but as with caffeine I’d start low, get a feel for the effects, then increase accordingly.

The Experience
On an empty stomach I downed 5 pills, or 3 grams. After thirty minutes I felt a slight stimulant-like buzz. As with a shot of espresso. The ache in my shoulder dulled, but other than a slight tingling in my fingers, I’d rate the effects as mild.  

Just before bed I swallowed another 10 pills. Again, I felt nothing for nearly an hour, but the next morning I realized I’d slept through the night, pain free. Mission accomplished.

Kratom is so slight it’s crazy that anyone would consider it a drug. More like a mild stimulant/sedative, if that in any way makes sense: a low dose and you’re alert, a higher dose and you mellow.

Due to it’s legality and minimal side effects, I can see this as the perfect post-workout tonic, when every muscle aches and you just need to chill.

Check it out.

Disclaimer: the information presented herein is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, consult a doctor before ingesting any vitamins, herbs, etc. 


Check out these other installments of Gaining the Edge:

Gaining The Edge: Powdered Black Ants and Black-Tar Shilajit

Gaining The Edge: Sweet Sweat Thermogenic Goop

Gaining The Edge: Yoshizo Machida’s Urine Therapy

Gaining The Edge: Training Mask

Gaining The Edge - Cryotherapy