What is Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa)?
The tree known locally as Kratom in Thailand is known as Mitragyna speciosa to biologists. Mitragyna speciosa is native to Southeast Asia and the archipelagos of Melanesia where its leaves have been used medicinally by indigenous ethnic groups for centuries.
Traditionally it has been used to stave off fatigue and combat pain, to treat coughs and diarrhea, to treat sexual issues, and to alleviate opiate withdrawal, among others. In the twentieth century, the use of Mitragyna speciosa became controversial.
The Kratom tree is a midsize, evergreen tree, occasionally deciduous in some locations, It typically grows to a height of 25 to 30 feet and half as wide. The leaves are compound, evenly pinnate to be precise, with an even number of dark green leaves arising from a central stem. These leaves contain over 40 compounds. The forty-plus compounds in the leaves has caused Kratom to be used by local peoples to treat multiple ailments. It is a broad-spectrum medication, ethnically. The leaves are the focus of the current dispute.
As used by the indigenous people, the leaves of the Kratom are ingested green. They are placed in the mouth and chewed, often after the central “rib” of the leave has been removed. A typical leaf weighs about 2 grams and most habitual users chew between 5 and 30 leaves daily. Estimates for use of Kratom by the male population of southern Thailand on a daily basis range from 50% to 75% of all men. Those users cite mood elevation, sexual stamina, and management of aches and pains among the benefits from Kratom. As can be inferred from the many and varied medicinal applications for which Kratom is used, the large number of compounds (more than 40) treat multiple maladies.
The number of compounds found in Kratom leaves is notable. Its primary compounds account for its predominant use for analgesic relief and stamina. Additional compounds probably contribute to its indigenous uses for other complaints such as cough and diarrhea. Still more doubtlessly cause the known side-effects.
The primary alkaloids present in Kratom and believed to account for its psychoactive effects are mitragynine, mitraphylline, 7-Hydroxymitragynine, and mitragynine.
All these alkaloids seem to behave as mu-opioid receptor agonists like morphine. Mitragynine was once believed to be the principal psychoactive component. Although 7-Hydroxymitragynine is present in much lower levels, it is significantly more powerful and is now suspected of being the principal component. It should be noted that the pharmacological effects on humans is not well studied. Because very few mu-opioid receptor agonists exist that do not originate from the opium poppy, more research would be welcomed.
HOW IS KRATOM EXTRACT MADE?
Kratom extract is made by boiling a large amount of fresh kratom leaves. The leaves are boiled until a soft, brown resin is created. The smell is strong, but pleasant. When you buy extract, the resulting resin should be completely dry.
IS KRATOM EXTRACT AVAILABLE IN DIFFERENT STRENGTHS?
15x extract is not the only strength available. You can find 5x, 10x, 15x, 20x, 25x and 50x extract. You may come across websites that sell 60x kratom extract, but the majority of customer reviews for these stronger varieties are often bad.
Overall, the 15x kratom extract tends to be the most popular, mostly because it is easy to adjust the dosage that you are taking when using 15x.
HOW DO YOU TAKE KRATOM EXTRACT?
Kratom extract can be taken like another form of kratom. You can brew it into a tea, cook it in recipes, eat it raw, or mix it into a smoothie. However you choose to take kratom extract, you will find that the taste is not as severe as dried kratom leaves. Since you do not need to take as much of the substance, you will not have to put up with the taste.
Kratom extract is becoming one of the preferred methods of taking kratom. You do not have to deal with the taste, it is easy to adjust the dosages, and it is just as easy to find online as kratom powder. Another benefit of using extract is the shelf life. Kratom begins to lose its potency over time. With kratom extract, you should be able to keep your kratom for a year or longer without losing any potency.
Pieter Korthals, a Dutch colonial botanist was the first one to discover Mitragyna Speciosa. The genus name is based on the observation that the plant’s stigma first examined, resembled a bishop’s mitre. The tree normally grows to a height ranging between 12-30 ft. tall and 15 ft. wide though some species have been reported to grow up to 70 ft. tall. Its leaves are dark green in color, grow up to 7 inches and usually grow in clusters at the end of the branch.
Kratom, botanically known as Mitragyna speciosa is a tropical, deciduous and evergreen tree classified under the coffee family. It is native to Southeast Asia, and is indigenous to Thailand where it has been outlawed for over 70 years. Thai government has banned its use, citing its contribution to the low tax revenue from opium. It has a long history of use in Thailand as a traditional medicine as an antidiarrheal medicine, treatment of opioid dependence and premature ejaculation. Southern Thailand has encompassed kratom use in its traditional history as the plant is purely seen as a folk medicine and no discrimination has been imposed among its users.
Mitragynine was first isolated in 1921 and its chemical formula elucidated in 1964 (C23H30N2O4) with a molecular weight of 398.50g/mol. It is insoluble in water, though soluble in organic solvents such as alcohols, acetic acid, diethyl ether and chloroform. At a temperature ranging between 230 and 240, mitragynine distills. This leads to the formation of a white and amorphous precipitate with a melting point of 102-106 degree Celsius.
Another alkaloid found in Kratom is 7-hydroxymitragynine. It is too complex to be synthesized in the laboratory thus mostly naturally obtained. It can however serve as a precursor molecule for synthesis of other molecules. The discovery of 7-Hydroxymitragynine came in the year 2002 by a group of Japanese researchers. Upon its discovery, Japanese researchers patented the compound with the hope of its future use in pharmaceuticals. This move by Japanese researchers is meant to ensure that incase the plant has medicinal properties then they own all the right to manufacture and distribute the potential medicine.
The fact that the plant contains several phytochemicals makes its pharmacological evaluation complex. There have been a few human clinical studies on Kratom although with time more and more studies are coming into the spotlight. Studies claim that the active compounds in kratom, mitragynine, is a mu-opioid receptor agonist and has some analgesic properties, which acts to relieve both chronic and acute pain.
Kratom also contains an alkaloid which acts to block the calcium ion channels in the body thus making them key players in the alpha-2 adrenergic receptor pathways. The metabolism of kratom by the human body is occurs through hydrolysis of the side-chain ester, O-demethylation of methoxy groups, reduction and oxidative transformations, and finally through the formation of sulfate conjugates and glucuronides.
The pharmacology of kratom among the humans is not well studied thus its protein binding ability, metabolism and elimination properties are yet to be fully understood. A number of studies has ruled out any medicinal potential of kratom, however based on its traditional and modern use, more research has been carried out using model organisms and various potential uses of the plant characterized.
Based on these studies, there is a potential for Kratom be used as an anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent. As mentioned earlier, there is not enough research to rule out the safety of Kratom. Despite its vast cultural uses in folk medicine, it is important to know that U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strictly prohibits internal use of this herb until more research is done.
HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH KRATOM YOU ARE GETTING?
When you start looking at kratom extracts, the first thing that you will notice is that they are labeled with a number. For example, you may see “15x Kratom Extract”. The number 15 is referring to the number of grams used to make 1 gram of extract. A 15x required 15 grams of raw kratom to make a single gram of extract.
Recent rise in popularity of Kratom has met a lot of opposition from various state agencies, and a number of governments putting a ban on sale and use. This has attracted interest from biomedical researchers across the globe.
Dr. Boyer, a medical toxicologist at the toxicology department in particular become interested in the study after it emerged that more than 40 million Americans depended on Kratom to manage their chronic pains, a factor that led to increase in demand for the Kratom. Though legal in most countries, Kratom is illegal in Australia, Burma, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, Malaysia, Myanmar, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea and Thailand.