Last October I was co-located for two months with an unlikely pair of digital nomads perched at a private villa in northern Bali. One of them was visionary, born again vegan in his late 30’s. The other a talented twenty-something savant programmer from Volgograd. During our time co-locating I helped the two containerize an application stack they’d been working on for over a year. And they introduced me to a healing herb used in traditional medicine I would later find out was the treatment I needed to control my chronic bronchitis.
Update 2020-09-18: Half a year after I published this article news began to spread regarding the potential of vaping to cause lung inflammation.
My cough started years ago in 2014. I was in my mid-thirties and doing quite well financially at the time, working at a pre-acquisition start-up in Chicago. There were only two people on the engineering team that smoked cigarettes and I was one of them. I always enjoyed smoking as it gave me a chance to step away from the computer screen during the long, eight to nine hour workdays. As the months grew colder I looked for an alternative to cigarettes and a former colleague introduced me to vaping.
After reading up on the health risks of vaping on the United States FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) website I learned the CTP recommended vaping over smoking cigarettes. So that winter I chucked the Marlboros and decided to get myself a vaporizer instead. Finally, a product I could potentially sneak indoors once in a while following the 2009 Illinois smoking ban.
I drove up to the Bucktown area and found a shop which sold vape products as well as vape juice, which I now know to be a synthetic concoction of vegtable glycerin and propylene glycol with some additives for flavor. The juice itself was not regulated as far as I know. And the shop I visited in Bucktown had a lab of sorts in the back where the juice, which was available in clear, unlabeled plastic containers, was made available for taste testing and sale. That was my first and only winter vaping.
After about two-three months of vaping with juice from that store in Bucktown I started to develop a cough and, after a few more weeks, found myself unable to inhale any VG/PG mixture without experiencing an uncontrollable coughing spate.
Unsure if my cough could’ve been caused by vaping I took a break and switched back to smoking cigarettes in the early spring. But even after I stopped vaping the cough never went away. I started to cough out of nowhere on a regular basis in and out of the office. The following summer I was asked to resign from my job in that Chicago office. Even upon asking I was never given a reason why.
After a year of chronic coughing and failed herbal remedies my mother insisted I visit a doctor. So I found a general practitioner with Rush Hospital and went in for a physical. During the exam I explained to the doctor I’d been coughing uncontrollably for over a year. After listening to my lungs with his stethoscope the doctor told me my airways sounded healthy but recommended I have an x-ray performed on my chest.
A few days later the results of the x-ray came back. My lungs were clean. And I received two separate bills in the mail for my medical checkup visit totalling more than $700 just to be told I should stop smoking by a Western doctor.
Another two years passed and the coughing continued. I found it difficult to find another office job after that. I interviewed at many different places. It was almost as if I was on some sort of HR blacklist in Chicago for people who cough too much. My next job was remote and I worked over the winter. It was the loneliest six-months of my life. So I left and move to Bali.
One night during my first few months in Bali I was having dinner when a woman approached me admitting she was worried about my cough. She said she was a nurse back in Australia and suspected I had a bronchial infection. She told me I should take amoxicillin to kick whatever was causing the cough. And although I’d been avoiding antibiotics until then I decided to take her advice and picked up a few $5 packets of amoxicillin tablets over-the-counter at a nearby pharmacy.
I took the tablets as per the instructions on the package, and still the coughing continued. After about a week taking the pills with no results finally something happened. The amoxicillin knocked out my sense of smell and taste for a good two days straight. So I stopped taking them and just continued coughing.
About a year and a half later the guys I started co-locating with in Bali introduced me to an herb called Mitragyna Speciosa, otherwise known as Kratom. I was suspicious of it at first but after watching one of them taking it every day in their tea I decided why not try it.
I tried a few different kinds of Kratom extracts from several different countries in Southeast Asia. And as a caffeine junkie I found anything other than the white Maeng Da Kratom to have little to no effect on my body. The effect it did have was hard to notice in its mildness as a it was overshadowed or nullified by the caffeine in the coffee I was adding it to. So I stopped taking the Kratom they had and eventually stopped co-locating as well. Weeks passed after I stopped taking Kratom and, though I’d read about the possibility of some withdrawal symptoms, experienced nothing of the sort.
My cough persisted until about a month ago when I saw some white Maeng Da Kratom for sale at a nearby hostel. It was labeled “organic” and packaged with a no-nonsense label in a brown paper bag. I liked the simplicity of the package so I bought it to try it once more on my own. Only this time, instead of mixing it in coffee as I had been I took my friend’s advice and mixed a sizeable amount into a glass of very hot water and continued adding water until I drank all of the Maeng Da.
It kicked in within a few minutes. It didn’t feel mind-altering like marijuana or alcohol. It also didn’t feel analgesic like morphine or codeine. Honestly, I’d compare it more to the relaxed feeling of drinking a Chamomile tea. Only a bit more effective.
After I learned how to take the Maeng Da Kratom correctly I suddenly felt happier, more relaxed and could focus much more clearly and hold that focus on my tasks. More importantly, however, was that the Kratom did what no Western doctor or nurse, or herbal remedies available in the US, had done for me…
After 5 years of chronic coughing I found that Mitragyna Speciosa, otherwise known as Kratom, is the only thing, natural or otherwise, I’ve ever tried which allowed me to control the chronic bronchitis I developed from vaping back in Chicago all those years ago. And I find it a great shame the FDA would attempt to ban a natural plant which can do so much good. Based on my experience I could see Kratom replacing a number of different designer drugs Big Pharma is dealing to its users in the US. Here are some potential uses based on my own trials of this fantastic and mild entheogen:
- Helps control cough for individuals with chronic bronchitis.
- May be used in asthmatics and COPD patients to aid deep breathing.
- Could be used to replace Ritalin for children with ADD/ADHD.
- Makes a great substitute for coffee, without the loss of focus.
- Aids deep relaxation at a fraction of the price of Cannabis.
- Used as substitute for synthetic painkillers.
So please don’t believe everything the corporate media or coming from anywhere tied to Big Pharma lobbyists as the bias will appear opaque and misleading. Once more people understand the benefits of Kratom believe me drug companies will fight hard to keep it out of the mainstream consciousness - and lack of clinical trials in the US seems a strong indication to support this claim.
Here’s to my next five years cough-free thanks to traditional medicine not available in the United States. I wrote to the FDA letting them know. You can do your part by demanding clinical trials in the United States.