Kratom is a tree widely grown in Asia and some parts of the Philippines, as well as New Guinea. Its botanical name is Mitragyna Speciosa. It originates from the Rubiaceae family. This tree grows to an average height of between 4-16 meters high.
Kratom is used for various medicinal benefits. Some dry its leaves and make tea with it. Others smoke it, while in some places, they consume it as capsules. When taken in low dosages, this herb produces stimulating effects. It’s therefore used for managing fatigue. However, when taken in high dosages, it causes sedating effects.
Kratom has, for quite some time, been used as a medicine and substitute for optimum. That’s because its alkaloids contain medicinal properties that are used to combat specific ailments such as arthritis, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, etc. The main compounds in this plant are mitragynine as well as 7-hydroximitragynine.
Although used to treat different diseases, not so many people know about the kratom tree and its components. If you’re interested in knowing the chemistry, as well as the mode of use of this tree, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover that and other topics as well.
What’s the Chemistry behind Kratom Tree?
Like earlier said this plant has two main compounds:
This alkaloid contributes up to 66% of the kratom extract. It was discovered in 1921. This compound doesn’t dissolve in water. However, it is soluble in some solvents, such as alcohol, acetic acids, etc. It’s said to distill at 230–240 °C temperatures at five mmHg.
Mitragynine produces analgesic activity because it has opioid agonist properties. Its analogs are indole alkaloids. Also, its concentration varies in leaves from different places. For instance, leaves from Malaysia have a 12% concentration of this compound, while those from Thailand have 66% concentration.
It might be a minor constituent of M. speciosa but plays an integral role in the overall effect of this plant. It was isolated not many years ago after it demonstrated antinociceptive potent in mice. Today, it is considered as a primary contributing factor for analgesic properties of the Kratom tree, since it selects μ- and κ-opioid receptors in our bodies.Since the hydroxyl group is present at C-7, this increases the potency of this compound to be 13- and 44- fold higher than in morphine and mitragynine, respectively. From this, we can see that 7-hydroxymitragine is what makes up the highest percentage of medicinal properties in kratom products. Apart from analgesic properties, it also contains anti-inflammatory properties.
How is Kratom Sold?
Kratom leaves are overall dark green. They grow to a height of 18mm long, 100mm wide. They have greenish (said to be more concentrated) or reddish veins. When still fresh, these leaves weigh approximately 1.7 g. However, when dried, their weight is 0.43g.
Products are often sold as dried leaves in powdered form. But, some sellers also prepare beige brown powder from extracts of other leaves. Individuals can also prepare dark brown resin by boiling water either wholly or partially from aqueous leaf suspensions. There are also capsules as well as edibles available.
It’s difficult to determine the impacts because different preparations contain varying ratios. Also, studies are minimal. But, experts say that kratom effects in human bodies depend on how much it was consumed. In small doses, this herb produces ‘cocaine-like’ stimulation, whereas, in high amounts, it causes ‘morphine-like’ sedation.
Testimonials from users indicate that this plant, when taken in small quantities, increases alertness, work capacity, sociability, and at times, sexual desires. However, in rare cases, this dosage produces side effects such as tremors, motor excitement along with giddiness.
Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine alkaloids cause these effects. It’s also important to note that using this substance regularly can cause dependence, which causes withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it.
However, these symptoms are mild and will likely fade away within a short time. They include restlessness, nausea, lethargy, sweating, etc. If they persist, one can use treatments such as antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, or anxiolytics as prescribed by a doctor.
Products sold in herbal or head shops come from Mitragyna Speciosa tree, which is mostly planted in South East Asia, especially Indonesia.
How Is Kratom Used?
In the past, people used to chew or brew kratom leaves into tea. These dried leaves were also smoked. Individuals chewed 1-3 leaves to enjoy its euphoric or vigor effects. Before eating, one removes the veins first. Some people add salt, which helps minimize constipation. Then people only swallowed the masticated material. After, individuals drink warm water.
But recently, people drink cocktails, which are made of kratom leaves, caffeine soft drinks, codeine cough syrup, and ice cubes.
Does Kratom Have Other Names?
Yes. Its botanical name is Mitragyna Speciosa Korth. It was given this name by a botanist from Dutch, Korthals, since its leaves and stigma looked like a bishop’s miter. Other people call this substance kratom, thing, Thom, or kakuam.
Kratom alkaloids can be analyzed using two methods: chromatographic or spectroscopic methods. In the first method, alkaloids are separated by a layer of chromatography on gel plates made with silica and have UV detection. They’re then sprayed with Ehrlich’s reagent. Some individuals also use ferric chloride. The number of compounds is different in ethanol and methanol solutions.
Often, manufacturers don’t specify its chemical composition because of several factors affecting that such as time of harvest, the plant’s age, environment, etc. But when dried, the leaves contain a concentration of between 0.5-1.5%. However, as earlier said, this composition differs in leaves from different places.
Is Kratom Legal?
In most counties, this herb is legal. Unfortunately, Mitragynine Speciosa alkaloids aren’t controlled in Schedules in the United Nations Drug bodies. But in EU countries, including Romania, Denmark, and Sweden, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are controlled. Other states like Malaysia and New Zealand also regulate it under their narcotic law.
Extent of Use
How much kratom is used differs in different countries? In Thailand, for instance, a report by the National Household Surveys in 2007 indicated that kratom prevalence was 2.32% among people aged 12-65 years. These figures were slightly higher than those of cannabis.
There has also been a recent road survey still in this country involving 1635 drivers, which concluded 0.9% of them use kratom.
How Much Does Kratom Cost?
Sellers price their products differently depending on the strains and amounts. A study conducted in 2005 by EMCDDA in European countries revealed that kratom 15X extracts prices were between EUR 2.1 to 10.3 per gram. Since there are no standard prices for kratom products, sellers usually charge differently.
Kratom has several therapeutic benefits. In Southeast Asia, it’s used as an antidiabetic, antidiarrheal, and a cough suppressant. Some people also use it to relieve pain while others use it when dealing with heroin addiction. However, there is no evidence proving whether or not this substance is safe for human consumption.
Well, the kratom tree is a useful substance in treating many chronic illnesses. But the best thing one can do is what you’re doing right now, taking some time to learn about it before you use it. Also, before you purchase any kratom product, you should speak to your physician first for advice and recommendations.