What is Kratom?
Kratom is an herbal leaf from a tree in the Rubiaceae family. This tropical evergreen tree, also known as Mitragyna speciosa, is related to the coffee family. Kratom is native to Southeast Asia and can be found in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea. Kratom has been utilized in traditional herbal medicine since at least the nineteenth century and has historically been consumed by chewing, smoking, or brewing into tea.
What are the main Kratom Alkaloids?
Here is the breakdown of the alkaloids in Kratom:
- Speciogynine composing up to 7%
- Paynantheine composing up to 9%
- Speciociliantine composing less than 1%
Pharmacology of Kratom
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What is the history of Kratom?
The history of kratom goes back further than official records, and much of our knowledge comes from research conducted over the last 200 years. The relationship between kratom and its chemical composition is not entirely understood. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has mentioned that kratom may have effects on the brain similar to opioids. This has led to debates about whether it is a safe alternative to opioids or simply a substitute. Indigenous people who have used kratom for centuries have not experienced the same level of devastation as seen with opioid use. It is important to note that serious adverse effects reported about kratom in the news and online often involve adulterated or contaminated products, not natural kratom. Further research is needed to better understand kratom and its potential effects.
- What is Kratom?
- What are the main Kratom Alkaloids?
- Pharmacology of Kratom
- What is the history of Kratom?
- What is the chemistry of Kratom?
- What are the benefits of Kratom?
- Supports Comfort and Well-being
- Soothing the Mind
- Addressing Mood Fluctuations
- Managing Cravings
- Supporting Mental Energy and Resilience
- Methods of Taking Kratom
- Phytochemicals Found In Kratom
- Mitragynine Characteristics
- Characteristics of 7-Hydroxymitragynine
What is the chemistry of Kratom?
As mitragynine is a tetracyclic relative of the pentacyclic indole alkaloids yohimbine and voacangine, many of the main psychotropic substances in M. speciosa are indole alkaloids. Particularly, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG) make up significant portions of the natural products that can be isolated from M. speciosa; for instance, in one study, mitragynine was 12% by weight from Malaysian leaf sources as opposed to 66% from Thai sources, and 7-hydroxymitragynine made up less than 2% by weight. More than 25 additional alkaloids, including raubasine/ajmalicine (originally isolated from Rauvolfia serpentina), corynantheidine (also found in Pausinystalia johimbe), mitraphylline, mitragynine pseudoindoxyl, and rhynchophylline, have also been found in the leaves of M. speciosa.
What are the benefits of Kratom?
Here are the benefits of Kratom:
- Supports Comfort and Well-being
- Soothing the Mind
- Addresses Mood Fluctuations
- Managing Cravings
Supports Comfort and Well-being
Kratom, when processed appropriately, may offer support for comfort and overall well-being. This mild stimulant has been utilized in Asia for centuries. There are two primary types of kratom: one that is usually white and considered more potent, and the other, Bali, which is typically green and associated with a more calming effect. Kratom is legal in most states and can be found online. While research is limited, it appears that it may not be addictive and might not have the same adverse effects as other substances. A notable study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health found that kratom users who consumed it at least once a week reported an enhanced quality of life. The long-term effects of kratom are still uncertain, but the study’s results suggest it may have a positive impact on those who use it.
- Potential for enhanced comfort, better sleep, and reduced joint and muscle discomfort.
- Users also reported improvements in their ability to concentrate, work, and socialize.
- May not be addictive and might not have negative effects like other opioids.
Soothing the Mind
Stress is a common issue that affects many people around the world. Kratom is often used for its potential to support optimal health and encourage relaxation. Different strains are available, depending on the country of origin. In today’s fast-paced society, maintaining emotional balance can be challenging, particularly when dealing with health concerns. Kratom is thought to promote relaxation and mental alertness. The active alkaloids in kratom, Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine, interact with the brain’s opioid receptors, which are associated with positive sensations.
- May offer a way to support mental well-being.
- An alternative option for those seeking non-pharmaceutical approaches.
- No prescriptions required.
- Supports physical and mental well-being.
Addressing Mood Fluctuations
In today’s fast-paced world, maintaining a positive outlook can be difficult, especially when dealing with chronic health conditions. Mental health challenges are a leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 300 million people, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Many people turn to medication for treatment, but these options may not always provide sufficient relief and can sometimes cause unwanted side effects. Kratom is used by some to help manage mood fluctuations and improve sleep quality. Users of kratom have reported positive changes in their mental states after several weeks of use.
- Aims to support mental health without resorting to medication.
- May help with mood fluctuations and sleep issues for some individuals.
- Could potentially provide a boost in motivation at the start of the day.
Breaking free from self-destructive cycles and habits can be challenging. Kratom, a traditional herb used in Thailand, has been sought out by some individuals as a natural alternative to help them resist cravings for other substances or addictive drugs. The chemical compounds found in kratom interact with receptors in the brain, potentially providing a sense of well-being. Kratom has a long history of use and may also be associated with stress reduction and promoting calmness.
- Utilized by some to address substance cravings, including alcohol and drugs.
- May help with managing withdrawal symptoms and mood fluctuations.
- A natural option not related to pharmaceutical medication.
Supporting Mental Energy and Resilience
The feeling of mental exhaustion can affect one’s ability to complete tasks and impact productivity during crucial moments. Kratom is a natural herb that some people turn to for supporting mental energy and resilience. Available in various forms online or in physical stores, an increasing number of individuals are exploring this herbal supplement to help them navigate challenging periods and improve overall well-being. Users have reported positive experiences with kratom.
- May enhance mental clarity with minimal side effects.
- Could potentially help with focusing on daily tasks.
- May improve motivation and boost confidence.
Methods of Taking Kratom
If you’re interested in exploring kratom, there are various options available. These include:
- Kratom powder
- Kratom capsules
- Kratom pellets
- Kratom paste
- Kratom leaves (dry or fresh)
Determining the right amount to take depends on factors such as kratom extract concentration, individual body type, and personal medical history. A common suggestion is for individuals to start with a small amount (around a gram, depending on strain and potency) and wait for half an hour to observe its effects. Exercising caution and being mindful of the effects are important when trying kratom. It is crucial to practice safe and responsible use, beginning with a low dose and gradually increasing if needed.
Smoking kratom is generally not recommended due to potential lung damage and reduced effectiveness compared to other methods. Alternatively, some individuals choose to make kratom tea by boiling the leaves and drinking the infused water. This method can produce powerful sensations, so it should be approached with caution. Kratom tea can also be dried into pellets for later consumption, which can be swallowed or dissolved in hot water.
Finding the most suitable kratom for specific effects, such as energy, may require trying different strains. Individual reactions to kratom and kratom extracts can vary, so it is essential to explore and find the type that works best for you.
Phytochemicals Found In Kratom
Phytochemicals are biological compounds found in plants, which may help the species defend against predators and pathogens. These compounds are produced through the plant’s metabolic processes, allowing it to thrive in its environment. The phytochemicals in kratom remain largely unstudied, and their potential effects on humans are still being explored.
Kratom contains over 40 types of alkaloids, as well as glycosides, terpenoid saponins, and polyphenols. The two key alkaloids in kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which are thought to contribute to the reported effects of the plant. Researchers are still working to isolate and study these compounds to better understand their properties and potential uses.
One example of a phytochemical found in kratom is ajmalicine, which has been suggested to potentially improve brain circulation. It’s important to note that phytochemical supplements have not been recommended by health authorities or approved by regulatory agencies, likely because research is still ongoing.
As scientists continue to investigate the various phytochemicals in kratom, they may uncover more information about how these compounds interact with and potentially affect the human body.
Mitragynine is one of the two major phytochemicals in kratom, accounting for up to 66% purity in certain types of leaves. Its effects appear to change if the product has been aged or stored for quite some time. In this case, mitragynine seems to lose its affinity for the receptors, meaning it may not be as effective if the kratom isn’t fresh. The exact functioning of mitragynine in kratom is not well documented or studied.
It is structurally different from opioids and may have a broader binding mechanism, meaning it affects more receptors than just the opioid ones. Chemists have been unable to fully isolate which mechanisms are affected by which phytochemicals. However, mitragynine is likely the reason behind many of the reported effects of kratom, especially considering it’s by far the most active ingredient.
Some people have reported using kratom for bursts of energy, similar to that of taking a shot of espresso. Others claim they use it as a way to help deal with cravings and long-term use of substances like heroin or morphine. For regular users, potential kratom risks are said to include loss of motor coordination, weight loss, and constipation. It is important to note that the exact effects of mitragynine on the human body when taken in kratom form are still unclear.
Characteristics of 7-Hydroxymitragynine
The alkaloid 7-hydroxymitragynine is not the predominant phytochemical in kratom. In fact, it’s not even really close. But despite its relative infrequency, some research suggests it may be more potent than mitragynine in certain respects. In animal studies, it was found that this phytochemical could potentially be effective. When compared to morphine, it produced milder side effects in test subjects. Animals were less likely to experience withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing use or to develop tolerance to 7-mitragynine over time. In mice, this compound also caused fewer respiratory issues when compared to other opioid agonists. Some recent studies suggest that this compound is derived from mitragynine as a metabolic process in the brain. This research affirms that we still don’t understand these compounds very well, nor are we asking the right questions about them. As such, the risks of this compound are unclear as well. However, considering the promise behind this strong phytochemical, hopefully we’ll see additional research into its potential effects.
Other Phytochemicals in Kratom
These phytochemicals are known as the lesser ingredients in kratom, but they’re still worth noting and discussing.
- Speciogynine: Composing up to 7% of all alkaloids in the plant, speciogynine may have certain properties that could be of interest for further research.
- Paynantheine: Composing up to 9% of the alkaloids found in kratom, this is the second most common alkaloid in the plant. It is also thought to have certain properties, though again, it’s not clear what the effect is in kratom form.
- Speciociliantine: Composing less than 1% of the alkaloids, speciophylline is also found in Chinese Cat’s Claw. Cat’s Claw is used for various purposes, but it is unclear if kratom would work in the same ways.
The benefits and risks for these alkaloids are largely undocumented. It is highly recommended to seek routine medical advice if you have a serious medical condition, including before considering if botanicals like kratom are safe for use.