Mitragyna speciosa or kratom as it is commonly known is a tropical native tree that is grown in parts of New Guinea, Borneo, and southeastern peninsula of Malaysia and Thailand. The plant is classified under the rubiaceae family and has common names such as Biak, kratom, Thom, Mabog, Mitragyna among others. The tree often grows to a height of 13 feet and in other scenarios; it can reach 40 feet when the conditions are favorable. The branches are mainly forked and it has ovate leaves, which are tapered at the ends. Ethnobotanist reveal that the leaves grow opposite of each other on the branch and measure 7 inches long and 4 inches wide. The flowers are deep yellow in colors and they grow in clusters on the stalks and at the end of leaf axils. Since the tree is a tropical plant, it does not thrive in cold temperatures but grows well in environments with huge amounts of water and sunlight.
The epicenter of kratoms traditional use is in Thailand, the plant has been used for a very long time now although Thai government declared it illegal in 1943. Research shows that kratom can be chewed as substitute to opium, there are no comprehensive reports or studies to indicate the addictive potential of kratom, but one aspect is that of high affinity mu-opiod receptors which causes potential addiction.
Kratom can be distinguished by the veins color of the leaf, the colors range from green, white, and red. Recent studies indicate that there is a species, which has not been fully explored; the species is referred to as Mitragyna javanica or even Maeng Da, although it may possess some psychoactive activities. The white and green veined Mitragyna speciosa has shown to have more potency than the red veined varieties. One of the research studies indicated that the white -red veined blend, red only and white only are preferred in the consecutive order. Considering the fact that Mitragyna speciosa is a native tree in Thailand, the Thai government has declared it illegal for consumption, and the plant is classified in the same reinforcement as cocaine, heroin, and other opiate alkaloids. According to the law passed in august of 1943, the Thai government outlawed the planting of new kratom trees and indicated that the existing trees should be cut down; however, the extent of law reinforcement is bound to the community support and other factors.
According to previous research studies of the late 90s, it revealed that kratom can be soaked in palm wine and used as poison antidote or diuretic, however human consumption is outlawed. The kratom available is only for research purposes and under no circumstances can be utilized by humans. Scientists and researchers have isolated over 25 alkaloids from Mitragyna speciosa, the main components being 7-hydroxymitragyine and mitragynine, moreover some of the commonly present indoles include mitragynine, paynanthine, mitraphylline, speciofoline, and other indoles such as corynanthedine, mitraversine, ajmalicine, stipulatine, and rhychophylline.
Mitragynine was first isolated in the year 1907 and it was given the name 9-methoxy-coryantheidine, the compound had a melting point of 104 degree Celsius and boiling point of 235 degree Celsius. Pure sample of mitragynine is soluble in chloroform, alcohol, and acetic acid. Kratom leaves contains 0.5% of the alkaloids and half to the total alkaloids is mitragynine , an average leaf weighs 1.7 g when fresh and 0.4 g when dry, this means 0.2g of mitragynine is present in every leaf. The structure of the prevalent alkaloid is similar to that of Yohimbe alkaloids. However, it does not interact with serotonin receptors in the brains the psychedelic trypamines do. The components show a higher affinity to mu-opiod receptors and studies are still ongoing on determining its potency.
There are numerous types of kratom herbs based on the strain in which the leaves of the tree are obtained and the vein coloration as well. Kratom strains are usually named after their geographical region with the common locations Bali, Malay, Indonesia, and Borneo being the main kratom producing regions. Depending on the strain selected the alkaloid content is usually high because of the tropical nature in which the plant thrives, the effects expected is largely determined by the central vein colour whether it is white, green or red. Kratom is still under research and various comprehensive studies on its mechanism of action, potency and other chemical factors.