Kratom Overview - A More In-Depth Look

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What is Kratom

Kratom, better known as Mitragyna Speciosa in the scientific community, is a raw botanical product that comes from the Rubiaceae (coffee) family of trees. Kratom is native to the tropical rainforests of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Mitragyna Speciosa powder and leaves have been used for centuries in customary rituals, ceremonies, and folk medicine all over Southeast Asia, and it has only gained popularity in the western world during recent years. Although Kratom is widely sold as a raw botanical product for various uses, in both leaf-powder form, as well as in a more concentrated, extracted form, better known as Kratom extract, it has not been approved for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When dealing with Mitragyna Speciosa, it is important to note that even though it is legal to buy and sell Kratom, the ingestion of Kratom has not been proven safe for humans by the governing bodies of food and drug regulations.


Borneo Jungle - Kratom

History of Kratom

The usage of Mitragyna Speciosa dates back hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and the research and data regarding the plant has now spread to the American scientific and legal communities. Several long-term studies on Kratom are still pending, and the research and support continue to escalate as more and more people and groups, such as the American Kratom Association, believe Kratom to be a beneficial herb with possible medicinal properties. Kratom's traditional use by the peasants and laborers has come a long way since it was first officially researched and documented by Pieter Willem Korthals, a botanists who once worked for the East India Company.

Kratom as a Medicine (medicinal)

One of Kratom's first western researchers, L. Wray, worked with the University of Edinburgh in 1907 to isolate the alkaloids of Mitragyna Speciosa. This research was officialized in 1921 when Fray named the alkaloids Mitragynine, as well Mitraversine and Mitragyna parvifolia. In 1930, I. H. Burkill studied the psychoactive effects, and he described its traditional use as a medicine, mentioning it as an effective treatment for diarrhea and fever, among other ailments. This study was compared to a Thai study conducted in 1975 by Dr. Sangun Suwanlert, in which he also observed the additional alkaloids. Mitragyna Speciosa leaves have been studied and found to have more than 40 chemical compounds that include a number of alkaloids such as mitragynine, 7-hydroxymitragynine, 7-hydroxy mitragynine, and mitragynine pseudoindoxyl.
Kratom leaves have also been known to contain at least one other alkaloid, rhynchophylline—"a calcium channel block that also reduces NMDA-induced current." The potency and concentration of Mitragynine contained in the leaves is dependent on several factors, especially the region where the tree was grown. For example, when harvested from a tree grown in Southeast Asia, the levels are usually higher than in trees grown elsewhere. Controlled climates, such as greenhouses, tend to produce kratom leaves with the lowest amount of Mitragynine. According to one recent analysis of Kratom leaves, which revolved around "chromatography-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS), found the levels of Mitragynine to range between 1% to 6%, and 7-hydroxymitragynine at 0.01 to 0.04%. Mitragynine has a chemical structure with a tryptamine nucleus; this chemical structure is the reason for molecules observed in adrenergic systems.

Mitragynine is known to be soluble in common organic solvents such as acetic acid, acetone, alcohol, diethyl ether, and chloroform. Another well-known chemical compound found in Kratom leaves is 7-hydroxymitragynine. According to a series of recent research, its potency level is extremely higher when compared to that of Mitragynine, which makes it the most powerful substance in the Kratom plant. Furthermore, the studies showed that 7-hydroxymitragynine has also been found to communicate with three major opioid sites—Delta, Kappa, and Mu. However, the chemical is said to bind itself most commonly to Mu receptors.


Kratom Leaf


In Thailand, one of the herb's native regions, its use remains illegal. However, in many other countries, Kratom remains largely debated. Thailand passed laws against the usage of Kratom (Kratom Act 2486) on August 3, 1943, but under the current Thai legal system, possession of one ounce of Kratom extract can be punishable by death. The law prohibits planting of Kratom, as well as cutting down any existing Kratom trees. Kratom's legal status has been  steadily contested since 2010 when the Thailand’s Narcotic Control Board called for the decriminalization of  Kratom due to its connection to Thai culture and history.

Several other countries, including Australia, Burma, Denmark, Finland, Romania, Poland, Malaysia, Vietnam and Lithuania have banned the possession and sale of Kratom. Kratom is not a controlled substance in the United States, and The Federal Controlled Substances Act does not list the plant or its extracts among the banned substances list. Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Vermont, Tennessee, Sarasota County – FL, San Diego – CA, and Jerseyville – IL have banned the possession, trade and distribution of substances containing Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine, and kratom sale and possession is not permitted by law in those states and counties. In United States, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve the alkaloids for human consumption.

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