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Used for centuries in its native Southeast Asia, maeng da is a variety of kratom undergoing a surge in use in the U.S. Marketing and anecdotal information position the kratom strain as an herbal alternative for increasing energy and mental focus while offering pain and opioid withdrawal relief.

But, maeng da poses numerous physical and mental health risks, even when used occasionally and in small doses. It’s strongly recommended to seek professional medical advice before using maeng da.

Maeng Da Kratom: Facts and History

Related to coffee, the kratom tree is predominantly found in Southeast Asia. For centuries, people have used kratom leaves in various forms to alleviate a range of ailments, from low energy to chronic pain. More recently, the plant has been used for opioid withdrawal symptoms though the efficacy is subject to debate.

Maeng da is one strain, or variety, of kratom and is frequently called the purest form of the drug. In the Thai language, maeng da means pimp; it’s often called “pimp grade” in slang. As for it being the purest form, technically maeng da is a hybrid of different types of kratom.

Its use in the United States began in the 1980s, though it’s become more popular in recent years. Internet retailers, herbal stores, and smoke/tobacco shops advertise maeng ka kratom and other kratom strains as herbal medicine or supplements and an alternative to prescription medications.[1] Users in the U.S. mostly use liquid forms of maeng da, but are quickly turning to kratom capsules and powders that are easily added to beverages and/or foods.

Maeng Da Kratom Vs. Other Strains

The maeng da leaves are dried longer than leaves used in other, less potent strains; the extra drying time increases the psychoactive alkaloid content and thus, potency. From there, the leaves are milled and ground before being packaged into different forms, such as maeng da capsules or tea sachets.

What Is Maeng Da Kratom?

Why People Take Maeng Da Kratom

Like other types of kratom, people take maeng da for many reasons, including increased energy levels, pain relief, and to overcome opioids. But, it’s important to keep in mind that these effects are anecdotal and incidental. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) hasn’t approved any strains of kratom as a recommended dietary supplement.

  • Energy: Lower doses are noted to offer a highly stimulating effect, giving the user an energized feeling for hours.
  • Mental clarity: Again, a low dose is noted to offer improved concentration.
  • Sense of wellbeing: Dose dependent, maeng da may cause a user to feel calm to extreme euphoria with high doses.
  • Anxiety and stress: Higher doses may alleviate stress and other positive effects on mental health.
  • Pain relief: Noted as a natural alternative to opioid and other prescription-based pain relievers.
  • Opiate withdrawal: The high alkaloid levels in maeng da have the same effect on your brain’s neurotransmitters and receptors as opioids.

Though medical and scientific information, studies, and research about maeng da is sparse, it is ongoing with recent studies done with mice to confirm the effects. Human studies are possible, but the prevalent consensus right now is to not take maeng da or any kratom strain. Speak with your doctor or a healthcare provider for further information.

Why Kratom Is So Dangerous

Kratom, and maeng da, is dangerous for several reasons. First, let’s talk about how it affects your brain and central nervous system (CNS). The two main psychoactive alkaloid compounds, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, engage with the opioid receptors in your brain. In turn, you or your loved one feel more calm or sedative effects and decreased pain. Mitragynine produces stimulant-like effects when it engages with other receptors, mostly when maeng da is used in smaller doses.[2]

You or a loved one can become dependent on kratom varieties because of its opioid-like properties. Stronger doses are needed over time to replicate the effects you or a loved one seek. This may lead to a range of symptoms we’ll discuss in a moment.

But, along with the known and unknown, short- and long-term effects of using kratom varieties, another danger is often present in the various forms. Toxic metals and microbes like salmonella were found in kratom products, according to a 2020 public health study.[3] Like many other drugs available in the U.S., kratom is easily adulterated, or cut, with filler materials to increase the product volume without using the supplier’s full amount of kratom.

Because you or your loved one have no idea of the purity beyond what someone tells them, or what the packaging states, the chances of a medicinal interaction or medical side effect are high.

A Breakdown Of The Various Strains of Kratom

Similar to marijuana, kratom comes in multiple strains with maeng da known as the most potent due to its propagation. Maeng da kratom strains are categorized by the vein color in the kratom leaves. Given its potency, most users feel intense effects from even small doses and with the first use.

Green Maeng Da

Green Maeng Da kratom is often used to boost confidence, general wellbeing, and motivation. Users report more energy, improved mood, and significant pain relief when using this strain. Because it’s a blend of psychoactive alkaloids, the effects of Green Maeng Da begin quickly during use. It’s made from 80% green vein kratom powder and 20% white, but this depends on the formula developer.

Red Maeng Da

The most popular maeng da strain, Red Maeng Da, has the highest concentration of 7-hydroxymitragynine and pantetheine alkaloids. This concentration causes the user to feel a wide spectrum of effects. Red Maeng Da provides increased energy and an enhanced mood in low doses. Higher doses offer long-lasting pain relief and an intense sedative feeling. The name stems from the blend of kratom plants, usually 60% red vein and 40% white.

White Maeng Da

White maeng da kratom users state feeling increased confidence and more uplifted overall. It’s reported to be more energizing than other maeng da leaves. This effect reportedly boosts concentration and cognitive ability while giving off the most fragrance of all strains. It’s made from a blend of 70% white vein kratom with the remaining 30% coming from green vein.

Side Effects Of Maeng Da Kratom

While the different kratom strains can cause different side effects for you or your loved one, maeng da users may experience:

  • Aggression
  • Breathing issues
  • Constipation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucination
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Nausea and/or
  • Sweating

Dangerous Long-Term Effects and Health Risks of Maeng Da Kratom

Even though it’s marketed as a natural alternative medicine, maeng da presents several significant health risks to kratom users. Long-term health effects include [4]:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms, heart attack, and other cardiac issues
  • Encephalopathy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Increased cheek pigmentation
  • Insomnia
  • Liver damage or failure
  • Psychosis
  • Respiratory issues, including difficulty breathing
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Seizures and/or
  • Tremors

Signs and Symptoms of Maeng Da Kratom Dependence

The signs and symptoms of a maeng da kratom use disorder usually appear over time as you or your loved one take higher doses to achieve the desired effects. Common signs include:

  • Abdominal pain or gastrointestinal issues, like diarrhea
  • Changes to eating or sleeping patterns
  • Decrease in school or work productivity
  • Erratic behavior changes
  • Increased risk taking behaviors
  • Lack of interest in social activities and/or
  • Weight loss

Maeng Da kratom dependence

Identifying Maeng Da Kratom Withdrawal

The symptoms of maeng da kratom withdrawal can vary between users. Other factors that affect you or your loved one’s symptoms include gender, weight, how long you’d been using kratom, the dosage used, and the form of kratom used. Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Hallucinations
  • Hostility
  • Muscle pain
  • Runny nose and
  • Overall feeling of unease

Treatment For Addiction To Maeng Da Kratom

Being able to identify maeng da dependence for yourself or a loved one is a step toward treatment. Many treatment options offer inpatient and outpatient programs, along with detoxification in a supervised and supportive environment. The mental and physical health for yourself or your loved one is prioritized in every option. These options may include relapse prevention to support you or your loved one after treatment completes.

Restore Your Mind and Body At New Waters Recovery

Maeng da and other kratom strains might seem appealing due to effective marketing, but they come with many dangers to you or your loved one with use. At New Waters Recovery, we prioritize individual wellness during your journey toward an improved sense of wellbeing without kratom. Our North Carolina drug rehab center offers comprehensive treatment options tailored to your needs. Contact us today to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Maeng Da Kratom

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding these two medications.

Opium is an opioid, made from the poppy plant, and is highly addictive. Kratom is made from processing Mitragyna speciosa tree leaves that, when ingested, produce opioid-like effects.

Originally, it was used as a traditional medicinal herb for people seeking relief from pain and muscle aches associated with day labor, farming, and other physically-intensive jobs. While it’s still used in Thailand for these situations, kratom is also drunk similar to coffee and tea for its stimulant effects.[5]

Kratom interacts with the opioid receptors in the brain through the 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine compounds. When kratom is used in large doses, you or a loved one feel increased feelings of pleasure and sedation but less pain. Other receptors in the brain react to mitragynine by creating stimulating effects at the same time, especially when kratom is used in small doses.


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