What Is the Active Ingredient in Kratom?

January 12, 2023

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is an evergreen plant native to Southeast Asia that is gaining popularity in the western world. When one consumes the leaves of this coffee-like plant, it may cause stimulant or sedative effects, depending on the dosage. But what does this substance contain that causes these effects? What is the strongest kratom strain for effective results?

What Is the Chemical Makeup of Kratom?

Although research on kratom and its uses is still ongoing, scientific studies have established the typical chemical composition of most strains. Different parts of the kratom tree have been found to have the following types of phytochemicals:

  • Alkaloids
  • Flavonoids
  • Terpenoid saponins
  • Polyphenols
  • Glycosides

The main active components found in kratom leaves include:

  • Mitragynine
  • 7-hydroxymitragynine

These two kratom constituents communicate with the brain's opioid receptors and  may have the following effects:

  • analgesic (pain-relieving)
  • anti-inflammatory
  • muscle-relaxing

Mitragynine 

The leaf's principal alkaloid is mitragynine. Scientists first isolated this alkaloid in 1921 and revealed the entire chemical structure in 1964. Mitragynine has milder withdrawal symptoms than an opioid, but it is thought to behave similarly. Given that it has fewer side effects than morphine, a traditional opioid, it could be a pain treatment.

Available data shows mitragynine can bind to opioid receptors, like MOR, to produce analgesia. This indicates that this alkaloid could serve as a potential source of analgesia.

7-hydroxymitragynine

A 1993 study found trace amounts of 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-OH) in kratom leaves. 7-OH is a natural substance made from mitragynine. It is regarded as an oxidized mitragynine derivative and an active metabolite. Like mitragynine, 7-OH binds to opioid receptors, but research indicates that 7-OH binds more. It also boosts mitragynine's analgesic activity.

What Is the Standard Potency of Kratom?

The precise chemical makeup of commercial kratom products is unknown because the following variables influence it:

  • the environment where the plant grows
  • the type and age of the plant
  • the time of harvesting the leaves

In dried leaves, the overall alkaloid content is between 0.5 and 1.5%. The strongest kratom will depend on the above factors and the place it was grown. Thai varieties have low amounts of 7-hydroxymitragynine, about 2% of the alkaloid content present. Mitragynine amounts are the highest in these varieties, making up 66%.

Mitragynine concentrations are lower in kratom varieties from Malaysia, with about 12% of the alkaloids. In Japanese kratom products, the typical 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine concentrations were 0.11 to 0.39 mg/g and 12 to 21 mg/g, respectively. Kratom resins had between 0.12 and 0.37 mg/g of 7–hydroxymitragynine and between 35.6 and 62.6 mg/g of mitragynine.

What Regulations Exist for Kratom?

The plant Mitragyna speciosa, mitragynine, and other alkaloids are not part of the United Nations Drug Convention schedules. Several states and nations currently regulate kratom, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine.

The following are some of the nations that regulate kratom in their respective drug laws:

  • Australia
  • Thailand
  • Malaysia
  • Germany
  • Myanmar
  • France
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea

Under its Medicine Amendment Regulations, New Zealand controls kratom and mitragynine. The U.S. federal government does not regulate kratom, but it is a "drug of concern." Some states consider it illegal, including:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

How and Why Are People Using Kratom?

In Southeast Asia, kratom, also known as thang, thom, and biak, has a long history of use. Over the past few years, kratom use has increased in the U.S. It is said to act as a stimulant at low doses and a sedative at higher doses. People who have used low doses of kratom report feeling more energized, alert, and sociable.

The plant's dark green leaves are dried, crushed, powdered, or made into a paste, tablet, or capsule. Kratom powders fortified with plant extracts are also available as green or light brown powders. People in the United States often use kratom as a tea to treat pain and opioid withdrawal.

In Southeast Asia, locals use kratom to wean heroin addicts off their drug of choice and for the following:

  • treating diarrhea
  • suppressing cough
  • treating diabetes
  • deworming the intestines
  • healing wounds as a poultice

Outside of Asia, there have been anecdotal reports of the use of kratom preparations for the following:

  • treating opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • treating chronic pain
  • substituting for opioid analgesics

Neither kratom nor the alkaloids in it are used in contemporary medicine. Some scientists suggest that more research be done on the medicinal value of kratom or its purified components. Adequate research can help determine the strongest kratom for treating drug withdrawal symptoms, depression, and pain.

Where Can You Buy the Strongest Kratom?

Kratom is available online for anyone within the states where kratom is legal. Find a shop that sells quality kratom in its purest form to get the strongest kratom.

 

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