In later times kratom is gaining popularity among many people who seek natural alternatives to alleviate many ailments. This plant has a wide variety of properties and effects on the body. For instance, there are people who use kratom to get more energy, and, on the other hand, there are people who take kratom to achieve better sleep. Also, many people take kratom to combat pain, or to help them deal with the symptoms of opiates withdrawal. Moreover, kratom may help relieve anxiety, and it can also be used to increase stimulation.
As you can see, kratom’s properties and effects may seem contradictory. How is it possible that a substance is both relaxing and stimulating at the same time? The answer to this lays on the kratom dosage and the alkaloid content. In this article, we’ll try to give you an overview of kratom’s main alkaloids and how they work in your system.
What is Kratom?
Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a plant from the coffee family that grows naturally in the rainforests of various regions of South East Asia. The plant is indigenous to Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Thailand. Notably, kratom is banned in Thailand since August 1943, where it isn’t legal to grow and sell. Nevertheless, Thailand’s Government is discussing the possibility of making kratom legal again and lift the 70-year-old ban.
Kratom is an evergreen tree that can grow to a height of 82 ft (25 m). But not all the plant holds properties. Only the leaves and, additionally, the leaves’ stem and veins have been traditionally used to treat or alleviate many ailments and conditions. Also, kratom is favored thanks to its stimulating and energizing properties.
But is all kratom the same? The answer to this question is no. There are different types or strains of kratom. Kratom strains take their name from the region where they grow. So, for instance, you can find Bali, Borneo, Thai and Indo kratom in the market. Also, there are different kratom types: white, red and green. The type name comes from the distinctive leaf color. Each type and strain have a different alkaloid concentration, so each type and strain have different properties and effects.
On the other hand, kratom also has different effects depending on the dosage. Whilst lower doses tend to be more stimulating and energizing, moderate doses are more calming and relaxing and larger doses are sedative.
What are Alkaloids?
Alkaloids are natural molecules composed of nitrogen and carbon. Although all living things make alkaloids, they are typically isolated from plants. Many alkaloids have medicinal properties and medicine has used them since ancient times as ingredients in many remedies.
There are more than 3,000 types of alkaloids and they come from 4,000 different plant species. Obviously, not all alkaloids have the same properties and not all of them have medicinal uses. Some alkaloids have analgesic effects, other can act as cardiac or respiratory stimulants. Also, there are alkaloids with anesthetic effects and others can relieve pain.
Some examples of popular alkaloids are nicotine, caffeine, and morphine, to name a few.
Kratom contains a wide variety of alkaloids and other compounds. Its leaves contain 40 compounds, 25 of them being alkaloids. But the plant owes its properties mainly thanks to mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, kratom’s main alkaloids. In fact, kratom’s leaves have a concentration of roughly 66% of mitragynine and 2% of 7-hydroxymitragynine. But, kratom has many other alkaloids with different properties and effects.
In addition, kratom contains phytochemicals that also have effects on the system. For example, it contains epicatechin, a flavonoid with antioxidant properties that is also present in dark chocolate.
How Do Kratom Alkaloids Work?
Kratom’s alkaloids work by binding to the opioid receptors of the brain. Specifically, mitragynine in low doses acts by binding to the brain’s Delta receptors, providing a stimulating effect. Additionally, in larger doses mitragynine also binds to the Mu receptors, which can alleviate pain.
On the other hand, 7-hydroxymitragynine has opioid agonistic activity. Although this alkaloid interacts with Kappa and Delta receptors, its main activity is on Mu receptors. These receptors are responsible for analgesia.
However, although kratom works directly in the opioid receptors of the brain, it’s not an opiate and it doesn’t have psychedelic effects.
Finally consider that, like every other substance, kratom can interact with other medicines. That’s why you must always avoid mixing kratom with any types of prescription or over-the-counter medicines, as interactions might be potentially dangerous.