This leaf from Southeast Asia is mostly sold at smoke shops, but it’s now being touted as a natural painkiller.
The hype: Kratom, an ancient medicinal leaf from Southeast Asia, is the most recent cure-all to rise from the wellness fringes, particularly among those who frequent head shops for the latest medical breakthroughs. It’s kind of like herbal Valium. Or maybe herbal Tylenol.
Elevator pitch: Kratom leaf, which is related to the coffee family, is touted as a plant-based alternative to Big Pharma. Popped in capsule form or prepared as tea, kratom can produce a mild psychotropic effect, though it’s more of a gentle sense of well-being than a so-called trip.
Some use kratom as a mood booster, while others say it alleviates chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. It has also been used to treat opioid addiction, though some government authorities say that kratom can be as dangerous as the opioids themselves.