Yes, that’s right, I said แมงดา. That’s the Thai word “Maeng Da” which in addition to being the name of the giant water bug (AKA the water scorpion, as if “giant water bug” wasn’t horrific enough). The Maeng da water bug, in addition to being one of the few bugs more disgusting than a palmetto, is also the secret to “nam prik,” a flavoring in Thai food. But wait, I thought Maeng da was a a name for a strain of stimulating Thai kratom? Yes, it is, but it also happens to be the colloquial name for the (terrifyingly titled) water scorpion.
So hold up, hold up, hold up, you mean to tell me that all those people referring to Maeng da as being “roughly translated to pimp’s grade kratom” are full of it? Not exactly, see that’s the thing, evidently if you drop แมงดา in the translate box the Thai script there comes out in English as “pimp.” No joke. Pimp.
So Maeng da then can refer to a disgusting vermin that doubles as a Thai delicacy, a specifically bred variety of horned kratom grafted and grown by the world’s first legal kratom plantation as they term themselves, or simply “The Plantation,” and also a derogatory term for a pimp, it being synonymous with cockroach.
So, as far as kratom is concerned, “true Maeng da” is a variety of old growth kratom trees, red and green veins that have been grafted together.They typically have broad, spiky “horned leaves.” Maeng da is often referred to as “genetically altered” which adds more confusion to an already confusing picture. Genetically altered doesn’t necessarily mean genetically modified. The simple practice of grafting to create a hybrid plant is an ancient method of producing new genetic variants of botanical species.
To make matters even more confusing, though all “true Maeng da” are the mutated Rifat variety with the horned leaves, not all horned leaf is Maeng Da. True Maeng Da and Bali kratom come from “the Plantation” previously mentioned.
Maeng da has been prized for years for it’s high mitragynine levels and the fact that it’s both analgesic and energizing. In addition to the mystery behind it’s name and origin there are even stories that it was used in the 16th century by Thai warriors before going in to battle. In between popularity in and out of Asia and conflicting reports there are several factor that add a layer of mystique to this, one of the most popular varieties of the diverse Mitragyna speciosa.