Kratom is a drug derived from plants, which classifies it as a botanical substance. It is manufactured and sold in the States as a pharmaceutical drug even though the US Food and Drug Administration approval is still pending. Kratom consumers are often unaware of how exactly it works on their bodies, both positively and negatively. Therefore, an in-depth analysis of the chemical composition can help you make a fair judgment for yourself.
Let us now individually analyze the kratom alkaloids that make up its chemical composition. These Kratom alkaloids are naturally occurring phytochemicals (plant chemicals) responsible for the unique characteristics of kratom, and some exist in more amounts than others. FDA conducts extensive scientific and medical testing on mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. However, saying that they are the two most common kratom alkaloids just yet is unjustified. Hence, to safely claim which ones are most significant, we will have to understand each one of the alkaloids separately.
What Are Alkaloids?
As described above, alkaloids are a distinct category of plant chemicals that exist more commonly in flowering plants, for example, those belonging to the poppy family.
An astonishing fact about alkaloids is that one-quarter of higher plants do contain them. Such varieties include ergot fungus (Claviceps) and Mitragyna Speciosa, the evergreen tree that carries copious amounts of kratom.
What makes alkaloids different is that they have diverse physiological effects, which do not necessarily depend on the dosage consumed. The concentration level of alkaloids inside the plant gives it its characteristic features.
These features range from having anti-inflammatory properties to pain-relieving characteristics to mood-changing effects (like sedation or stimulation), and many more. The strength and variability of these effects entertain the need for research and expansion of alkaloid-based drugs.
Some alkaloids have milder stimulant effects, like caffeine, contained in coffee beans and tea leaves. However, another alkaloid, morphine, found in opium poppies, affects users relatively strongly and gets used as a more effective sedative and pain reliever.
So which are the Popular Kratom Alkaloids?
Kratom has about 40 different kratom alkaloids, but the two crucial ones are mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. These largely determine the effects of kratom and work on the µ-subtype opioid receptors (MORs) in our bodies. Let us now inspect these more closely.
Mitragynine forms about 66% of total kratom alkaloid concentration and secures itself as the most abundant kratom alkaloid. Mitragynine levels strongly rely on the type of plant, crop harvesting time, the strain of kratom, and availability of plant nutrients.
Test results conclude that concentration levels of mitragynine are respectively higher in green and white vein kratom strains. Other varieties, such as the Malaysian kratom strains, have lower levels of the same alkaloid.
The 7-hydroxy mitragynine alkaloid in kratom exists in scare amounts as compared to mitragynine described above. It only makes up about 2% of the total alkaloid concentration and is fourth in ranking in terms of its abundance among other kratom alkaloids.
Research shows that red vein kratom strains hold more 7-hydroxy mitragynine amounts at an average than others. It has a half-life as opposed to mitragynine and hence, impacts the body for shorter periods.
Alkaloid Level Changes As the Kratom Plant Matures
Hormonal changes occur in the human body as it matures, similar to how alkaloid levels fluctuate in the different growth stages of the kratom plant. During early growth periods, the kratom leaves have white veins because of higher mitragynine levels.
However, in later stages, veins change color to green and eventually to a reddish tinge. It is because of increased 7-hydroxy mitragynine levels that exceed mitragynine concentration levels.
In short, kratom alkaloid levels directly affect the appearance and the effect of all kratom strains.
What Are the Effects of Kratom Alkaloids?
Whether you consume kratom as kratom powder, kratom capsules, our kratom tea, it all just comes down to one thing, alkaloids. The assortment of alkaloids in the kratom leaves determines the effect it will have on the consumer.
The alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine both affect opioid receptors. Mitragynine comes into play when the user consumes smaller amounts of the drug, and it has a stimulant effect since it makes a person more alert and aware of his surroundings.
With an intake of larger doses, 7-hydroxy mitragynine takes over and creates a sedation effect that lulls overall sensation by lowering anxiety levels. In the long run, kratom has the potential to cause opioid-like effects that can cause addiction.
However, kratom is not just a recreational drug. It holds multiple pharmaceutical prospects, especially kratom tea that gives relief against pain. Still there exists a need for further introspection to understand other health benefits of kratom.
A lot of the time, manufacturers use several trade names to sell kratom leaves. It makes inspection of the chemical composition inside the plant almost impossible to achieve. Hence, knowing if alkaloid levels render kratom a safer drug to consume remains a controversial debate.
We need to dive deeper into recognizing these alkaloids used in kratom materials medicinally instead of focusing more on isolated alkaloids.
Other Kratom Alkaloids besides Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy Mitragynine
Besides the two discussed above, kratom also has other alkaloids, like paynantheine, which makes up about 8.6-9% of the total kratom alkaloid percentage. Speciogynine is the fourth most commonly occurring alkaloid with a 6-6.7%.
However, studies conducted on these alkaloids are not sufficient to fully understand their respective health benefits.
Out of all alkaloids mentioned above, it is easy to classify which are the popular kratom alkaloids. Alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxy have received thorough research as opposed to the other ‘minor’ alkaloids. Hence, people are more aware and cautious of their benefits and side effects, respectively.
An increase in the awareness of kratom as a substance is likely to help us understand how the currently ‘less pronounced’ alkaloids work within our bodies. This awareness helps individuals raise their standards of living and ensure a safer lifestyle for themselves.