Six Asian and four African Mitragyna species are known to be used in traditional medicine but the stimulant/sedative-narcotic/psychoactive effects are characteristic only for Mitragyna speciosa . In South East Asia, kratom is used as an antidiarrheal, a cough suppressant, an antidiabetic, an intestinal deworming agent and wound poultice as well as to wean addicts off heroin. Outside Asia, anecdotal use of kratom preparations for the self-treatment of chronic pain and opioid withdrawal symptoms and as a replacement for opioid analgesics have been reported. There is, however, no approved use of kratom or its alkaloids in modern medicine. It has been suggested that the therapeutic potential of kratom or its purified ingredients for the treatment of pain, depression and drug withdrawal symptoms should be explored.
It is a big climber that grows by climbing on large trees and found throughout tropical India, ascending to an altitude of 1000 ft. The one, which climbs the neem tree, is considered of the best quality. The stems are fleshy. Roots are long thread like, aerial, arising from branches. Bark is thin, grayish or creamy white in colour, when peeled fleshy stem is exposed. Leaves are cordate that is heart shaped, membranous and juicy. Flowers are blooming during summer. Male flowers are small, yellow or green coloured occur in clusters. Female flowers occur singly. Fruits are pea shaped; fleshy, shiny turn red when boiled. Occur in winter. Seeds are curved. It is also known as Heart-leaved Moonseed.