Mitragyna speciosa or Kratom is the great southeastern plant that is a natural opioid. It grows in the dense forests of Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Brunei. The benefits of Kratom are majorly due to active ingredients in kratom. These unique biochemicals decide the effects on the user.
The commercial trade of Kratom is online. There are some forms in which Kratom is available such as powder, tincture, extract, and capsules. A user may select anyone from these on his ease.
In any form, the benefits of Kratom need no license to show efficiency. From energy, stimulation, libido to weight loss, a cognitive boost, and musculoskeletal pain ease, everything is an indirect benefit of Kratom.
Talking about the treatments, Kratom has a status of the medicinal plant. Although many users approve it for amusing purposes therapeutic advantages are massive to overshadow it. For a person who wants therapeutic assistance, there is no way Kratom can go wrong.
Popularity and Distribution
It is not very long ago when no one was aware of Kratom. This herb made its way to the international market only a decade ago. It is now underused among various parts of the world. The suppliers of Kratom operate online and deliver the product at the doorstep.
It is a non-prescription help that works like synthetic opiates. The effects are risk-free and involve no complications for the future.
Chemical Nature of Kratom
For centuries, Kratom is helping users for remedial reasons. There is less documented data on the natural history of Kratom. The active ingredients are alkaloids which are now known to the public after extensive research.
The pharmacology and toxicology are not a very common aspect of Kratom studies. The information on the chemical nature of Kratom needs time to complete. Only a few numbers of research papers are available about studies on Kratom. Some of them are available easily.
Active Ingredients of Kratom Plant
The only information available till date is the number and a broad constituency of Kratom alkaloids. There are over 25 alkaloids which are a primary reason for the distinctive properties. Initially, there was no research on the separation of these alkaloids for their particular potential.
The most abundant alkaloid is Mitragynine. It is a major alkaloid that is responsible for multiple effect producing. In 2002, 7 Hydroxy Mitragynine was discovered by scientists from Japan. It is the second most abundant and useful alkaloid of Kratom.
All other alkaloids are present in less amount than these two. Only Mitragynine and 7 Hydroxy Mitragynine are most efficiently involved in all processes.
Chemistry of Kratom Alkaloids
The chemical structures of Kratom alkaloids are similar to psychedelic drugs. It resembles psilocybin or LSD in many ways. But there is no activity as an experimental agent of Kratom reported up till now.
The effects of Kratom are varied. They range from enhancing cognitive functions to sleep regulation. The physical benefits are in libido, weight loss, suppressing appetite, and chronic pain management.
For each of these effects, some chemicals are involved. Other than 7-Hydroxymitragynine and Mitragynine, there are some alkaloids that are now open for further study. Some of these alkaloids are as follows.
Out of all these alkaloids, only three alkaloids Mitragynine, 7-Hydroxymitragynine, Mitragynine, and (-)-Epicatechin are under extensive research. Others are relatively new to lay any basis for further studies.
There are over 40 chemical compounds functional in Kratom. However, there is only a limited amount of alkaloids known. Up to date profiling of Kratom, compounds are available online. But yet it will take some time for completing that profile.
Structuring of Active Alkaloids
The chemical profiling of the major Kratom alkaloids is as following.
By nature, Mitragynine is an indole. It is the longest known alkaloid of Kratom. D. Hooper discovered it in 1907. The follow-up studies on Mitragynine were more than 100 years long which finally concluded the recreational benefits of the alkaloid. It is the first synthesis that gives so many effects to the Kratom.
It is available in about 0.1-0.3% in Kratom leaf, depending upon the strain under study. The stimulatory effect is all due to mitragynine which binds to the MU and Delta receptors to work. It also eases in pain and induces many useful cognitive functions. There is no chance of any psychedelic reaction.
7-Hydroxymitragynine is the second most reactive alkaloid from the Kratom profile. It was discovered after 95 years of the discovery of mitragynine. The potency of 7-Hydroxymitragynine is 30 fold higher than mitragynine which means it is even more efficient than it.
Many people assume it to be a secondary alkaloid. However, it is not. It is the first nature of the compound which has three opioid site interactions i.e. Mu, Delta, and Kappa. It binds to Mu receptor and induces peaceful benefits, stress relief, analgesia, and therapeutic effects.
The latest edition of the chemical profiling of Kratom is Epicatechin. It is an all rounder which benefits for all reasons.
The properties and effects of Epicatechin are both like mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. It also controls blood sugar and works as an antibacterial agent for some specific strains such as E-coli.
Mechanism of Action by Kratom
Morphine and other opiates are famous for the damaging health effects that they produce. Kratom is a natural alternative which is an opioid receptor agonist. The pharmacology of Kratom is different from the synthetic opiates which make it a perfect choice for casual usage.
Comparison between Kratom and traditional opiates.
I. Binding Sites
Opiates bind to specific sites called opioid receptors. After the attachment, they act like endorphins which are a natural part of human bodies.
Even the structure of Kratom alkaloids and endorphins is the same. Once this attachment is complete, the result is similar as that of natural endorphin functions.
II. Release and Effects
Endorphins are associated with relieving pain, sedation, relaxation, pleasure, and euphoria. In a case of Kratom the extra benefits of sleep regulation, body metabolism, physical comfort and pain control, and additional.
Endorphins are released when the body is below rigorous physical work. The result of Kratom usage and endorphin release is the same which is satisfaction and pleasure.
III. Dosage and Quantity
Another fundamental difference between the function of natural endorphin and Kratom is of dosage. In small volume, the opiates bind to Mu opioid receptor and Kratom binds to the delta receptor. On a higher dose, Kratom starts binding to the Mu receptors similar to the binding of opiates.
The reason for Kratom acting as a stimulatory agent in low dose and sedating agent on high dose is due to the difference in binding ports.
Opioids don’t have an affinity for Kappa receptors whereas Kratom has it. Kratom also shares the relationship with norepinephrine and serotonin receptor system which is not a case with opiates.
Analysis of Kratom Effects
User experiences mainly evaluate Kratom effects. There are no researchers to elaborate on the consequences at a user level. These effects may range from person to person. Also, they may show up differently on multiple users. The following are some effects which work for most of the people as the same.
- Physical effects
- Pain relief
- Inflammation control
- Appetite suppressant
- Weight loss
- physical euphoria
- Cognitive effects
- Stress relief
- Cognitive euphoria
- Focus enhancement
- Dream potentiating
- Clarity of mind
- Organization of thoughts
- Social confidence boost
The Harmful Potential of Kratom Alkaloids
Opioids are objected for the serious potential. In the case of Kratom, the risks of toxicity and damages are zero. For some people, Kratom may end up causing respiratory problems, but it is not lethal. Also, it is significantly less than the effect of synthetic opiates. Some users may feel nausea or vomit after initial dosing.
The bitter taste and fragrance are a major reason for it. Not harmful but this effect is undesirable. This feeling goes away with experience and time.
Mixing Kratom with other opiates is a hazardous thing which can be fatal. Potentiators like alcohol, benzodiazepines make the Kratom experience damaging and destructive for the body.
The risk of toxicity is not considered with Kratom. The long-term effects of almost everything leave some effects. For Kratom, these effects are not damaging but controllable. It is advisable to use Kratom with care.
Kratom is highly dosage sensitive. There is no as such determination of a lethal Kratom dose. Going above the moderate dose is not a favorable thing to do.
Some effects are precise for their dosage such as analgesia which shows up on a higher dosage. A slightly higher dosage i.e. 8-10g is less likely to induce nausea. Even for these minor side effects, the dosage needs to be very high.
Tolerance and Addiction Potential
Kratom addiction is a debatable topic. The chronic use of Kratom may induce moderately addictive effects. The reason why it may create dependence in users is the mismanagement in the dose and frequent usage in extreme quantity.
The symptoms of addiction and craving withdraw themselves by stopping the use of Kratom for some time.
Kratom Interactions With Other Substances
The alkaloids give great attributes to the Kratom. Most of the time, Kratom doesn’t require a potentiator to increase its efficacy. Many users prefer an extremely high experience for which Mixing Kratom with other substances is a common way to potentiate its effects.
Some of these potentiating agents are antidepressants like 2M2B, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, GHB/GBL, and opioids. It is not an advisable combination as it can cause respiratory depression.
Another mix of Kratom is with Stimulants which results in common overdosing effects. It includes a faster heart rate, agitation, stress, heavy perspiration, and anxiety. All these effects are undesirable, so this combination is also not advisable.
The only way Kratom combinations may work for a user is to potentiate them with each other. In the case of the unavailability of a higher strain, a moderate and mild strain of Kratom can be helpful in a combination. Such herbal interactions are safer and controlled by effects.
To avoid the undesired effects, Kratom should be used in a moderate quantity, and any combination with chemical substances is damaging.
Legal Challenges for Kratom
The legal status of Kratom is varied. It is legal in the main parts of the world, but there are many places and regions which have a ban on Kratom use and trade. This prohibition is due to the recommended usage practices of Kratom with chemical agents as a mode of getting high.
Not only it is illegal to take such a huge risk for recreational reasons but also the health effects are lethal. However, it is available for medicinal and research purposes. Thailand, Malaysia, and a few states of the USA have banned the usage of Kratom.
Latvia and United Kingdom share a similar type of ban. It is available in the rest of the parts of the world.
Alkaloids being the major contributors for the Kratom effects, need more research on them. There is not much data and information on the exact structure and working on these alkaloids. Only three out of 40 compounds are familiar to the public. The rest are still mysterious for all.
The ban on Kratom is because of unsafe Kratom usage. To remove this ban and share the active ingredients of Kratom with the world, it is a dire need to practice fair and safe use policy.