The sweltering backwaters of Indonesian Borneo have become the unlikely ground zero for the global production and export of Kratom, a tree leaf hailed by some as a miracle cure for everything from opioid addiction to anxiety.
Part of the coffee family, the leaf has been used for centuries in Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea for its pain-relieving and mildly stimulating effects but it is now sold in powder form and exported worldwide – alarming some health regulators who have raised concerns about safety.
Kratom stimulates the same brain receptors as morphine, although it produces much milder effects.
“I take Kratom and have had no problems. Every strain has its benefits – some help you relax, others can treat insomnia or treat drug addiction. Some help increase stamina,” said grower Faisal Perdana.