2016 was a rough year for Mitragyna speciosa, the plant better known as kratom: it narrowly escaped DEA scheduling in September when thousands of angry kratom enthusiasts, lobbyists and even politicians protested. While it's currently legal to purchase and sell, kratom's fate could change at any time. Still, the kratom market in 2017 is booming thanks in part to the attention drawn by the DEA last year.
As a daily user of this plant, I've tried many strains and vendors and would like to share some of what I've learned with you. One trend that's risen this year is the appearance of "yellow" and "gold" strains, which are apparently just white and red strains (respectively) that are dried using a special process. And the same goes for Bentuangie, which is usually just a red strain that's fermented to give it a dark brown appearance and smoother taste. Now that that's out of the way, let's talk vendors.
There's an endless sea of kratom vendors in this unregulated Wild West market paradise. Who to choose? The consensus is that brick-and-mortar smokeshops and smartshops overprice their kratom and often store it improperly, leading to staleness & lost potency. Of course there are exceptions, but I haven't come across any. Online vendors are the way to go. My Top 5 kratom vendors for 2017 are: Canopy Botanicals, Swirl Girl Inc, Indo Elephant, Get Kratom & All Natural Artisan. Prices range from $95 per kilo at Swirl Girl Inc to $200/kilo at Get Kratom, but the quality and selection are what I'll be reviewing.
Canopy Botanicals' Red Jongkong is an ugly brown strain that's both potent and uplifting. I highly recommend picking it up to offset the overwhelming sedation of their Red Hulu Kapuas, which is a 100% night time strain. The Red Ketapang is also a solid analgesic/sedating choice to end your day with. Shipping is from the East Coast and packaging is very elegant. He even threw in a sample of Bentuangie with my order, which was much appreciated. Canopy is much revered in the kratom world and I must say the praise is well-earned. Every strain I bought was consistently potent and fresh. So potent I had to lower my dose by nearly half.
Swirl Girl Inc is a unique setup in that they don't have the products on hand but buy them from a supplier as soon as your order is taken. They offer a variety of kratom strains in amounts including 500 grams, 1 kilo and 3 kilos. Prices are very reasonable at $95 per kilo plus shipping. And you can buy kilos split 4 or 5 ways! I got the Yellow Sunda, Green Banjar & Rainbow Extract, which is a 20:1 extract containing red/green/yellow strains. The Yellow Sunda was by far my favorite--warmth and smiles for days. They ship from the middle of the country, so delivery takes about 2 days to any state once they have your package. Mine only took 9 days total from Indonesia to my door. As always, Swirl Girl maintained communication the whole time and I was given a tracking number so I could monitor the progress of my order. It was well worth the wait for that gorgeous Yellow Sunda. Swirl Girl recently added agmatine sulfate to their lineup, so I'll have to pick that up next time as I've been curious about its effects as a kratom potentiator.
Next is Indo Elephant, which offers my favorite enhanced product of all time: Luminosity. This enhanced leaf contains a proprietary extract added to their high-quality Red Horn leaf (my favorite strain!) for a true standout product. I received my sample in a trade after reading rave reviews about it on Reddit and plan to buy another ounce as soon as I run out. This is truly top-shelf product...the "caviar of the kratom world" if you believe in such things :P
I became acquainted with Get Kratom during 2016 when the DEA ban was still ongoing. Prices were high and kratom was scarce, so lesser known vendors were rising to the top of the heap. I will say out of the gate: Get Kratom's prices for a kilo--$200--are the highest I've seen, and I would not be willing to pay that much unless I had no other choice. Luckily, they also sell smaller amounts like 1oz, 2oz, 4oz, 8oz & 16oz for the frugal kratomite. Their Green Malaysian is definitely worth the extra $$$. I got the 8 oz. bag and was quite pleased with the quality.
Finally, we have All Natural Artisan, the first vendor I ever used. While he doesn't offer as many strains as some vendors, he takes pride in milling every order daily for freshness. I started with his Plantation MD (Red) strain, which sadly had no effect on me whatsoever. So I tried a bigger dose. Nothing. Then I tried the Plantation MD (Green). Whoa! While the green definitely had an effect, it wasn't a pleasant one. This turned out to be my least favorite strain of all time, as it makes my heart race and feels like a caffeine overload. My third strain was the charm: Red-Horn Kali. The perfect combination of chill and uplifting euphoria that I'd been trying to achieve all along. It's still the only strain I use by itself in my teas because it doesn't need any enhancement. Oh, and I also tried the Artisan's Red MD 12:1 Extract, which has little more effect than the Red MD strain. I sometimes smoke it in a bong or off a piece of aluminum foil as a nightcap, but that's the extent of its usefulness for me.
2017 has seen the rise of many novel strains that were either not existent in previous years or not nearly as popular. Gold Bali is the Belle of the Ball at the moment. It is made from Red Bali leaves that are dried using a special proprietary process, apparently yielding something greater than the sum of its parts. Since kratom is not actually grown in Bali, Gold Bali is most likely made from red-vein kratom grown in Borneo. Another popular newbie on the block is "Jongkong" which apparently refers to a forest region in Borneo. Then we have "Banjar" strains, which are grown in the Sumatran forest. You writing this down? :)
GIMMICKS & HYPE
Despite all the tinctures, extracts and enhanced products on the market, plain powdered leaf still offers the best bang for your buck. Extracts raise your tolerance without providing additional beneficial effects like euphoria...not to mention they're expensive. If you ARE going to buy an extract, stick to 20x or below. Products labeled "100x" and higher are a marketing ploy and should be avoided. Terms like "Super" and "Premium" have no real meaning and should also be ignored. Many of the place names like "Vietnam" or "Thai" are not reflective of where the plant was grown since kratom is illegal in Thailand and not grown in Vietnam or Bali. (The only islands it is grown on are Malaysia, Sumatra & Borneo). If you come across animal names like "Dragon" "Tiger" or "Eagle," well...rest assured that the vendor himself conjured it up to boost sales.
I guess that wraps up my Kratom 2017 review. What are your favorite strains and vendors of 2017?
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