Every botanical plant comprises chemical compounds within its body system, and kratom is not an exception. Kratom contains alkaloids, which may vary from strain to strain. We all are aware that kratom exists in a variety of strains.
Many kratom users report kratom’s efficacy in boosting their mood and energy, alleviating body aches, and more. However, they do not know what attributes to its working. Of interest is kratom performing the magic in their system, and that only is satisfactory. But we cannot deny the fact that getting deeply informed keeps you updated on your well-being.
Below we are going to discuss the basics of kratom alkaloids, which include what they are, the main alkaloids of kratom, and factors that affect these alkaloids.
What are alkaloids?
First, let’s get unearth what alkaloids are. Kratom like other plants and living things contain chemical compounds summed up in one word as phytochemicals. So, alkaloids are one of the phytochemicals present in plants such as kratom trees (Mitragyna speciosa), poppy, and ergot fungus.
By definition, alkaloids are the complex organic compounds that contain nitrogen bases which, when consumed, result in physiological effects, whether in large or small doses. Alkaloids exist in varying concentrations in plants, and so the strength of the effects vary.
For kratom, it is the same phenomenon. The strains contain varying concentrations of alkaloids. Some may have more alkaloids. That is why the expected medicinal and recreational benefits may differ from one strain to another: from the reduction in skin inflammations to sedative effects to mood enhancement, which are just a few.
Coffee has caffeine as its alkaloid and morphine in poppy plants. What we are yet to be enlightened on is the alkaloids existent in kratom. The next section focuses on that.
Alkaloids present in kratom
As said earlier, plants have different concentrations of alkaloids. And with kratom, there is no difference.
Scientific researches on kratom have been conducted over the years, which led to the discovery of at least 40 alkaloids. Out of these, the most common are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine responsible for the kratom effects, but mitragynine is more significant.
Mitragynine owns about 66% of the total concentration and therefore deemed the most abundant alkaloid in kratom. However, its concentration varies from strain to strain. For instance, mitragynine has higher levels in white vein and green vain strains of kratom while they are lower in the Malaysian strain. It is not water-soluble but dissolves in conventional organic solvents such as acetic acid, chloroform, alcohols, and acetone. Moreover, mitragynine can be transformed nit a metabolite.
On the other hand, 7-hydroxymitragynine is another constituent with concentration levels of up to 2% of the total alkaloids in kratom. The red vein strain has higher levels of 7- hydroxymitragynine than the rest, of which the red vein Maeng Da boasts of the highest levels. But the concentration varies due to certain factors such as harvesting or drying.
From scientific analysis, 7- hydroxymitragynine is the fourth most abundant kratom alkaloid. Then paynantheine is the second most abundant, and speciogynine falls in the third position in terms of abundance with 8.6 – 9 % content and 6.6-7% of total content, respectively.
The following ae the remaining minor alkaloids present in kratom:
These are a few of the minor kratom alkaloids. Most of them have less than 1% of the total alkaloid content in kratom.
Factors affecting the content level of kratom alkaloids
The content level is affected by several factors that shift it quantitatively. The kratom alkaloids keep on changing from month to month, depending on the geographical location and the different times of harvesting.
The variation goes to the extent of taking place on the same tree. The cause being change in the length of the seasons, be it rainy or dry, and the duration of time between subsequent harvests.
Mitragynine, for example, gains the highest content level in leaves that are frequently harvested, especially those harvested in the first phase of the rainy season after the dry season. When it is dry, mitragynine accumulates in the leaf buds, and sometime after the rains begin, the leaves sprout, and it gets deposited in the leaves.
The age factor also affects the concentration of kratom alkaloids. The highest levels of mitragynine occur while the kratom plant is still young. Contrarily, 7-hydroxymitragynine levels gradually rise as it grows and matures. When you keenly observe the strains throughout the growing period, you will notice that the color of kratom veins changes. In the early stages of growth for mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, the veins are white, which then changes to green and eventually red when the kratom plant fully matures.