A frequent news buzz, kratom isn’t short of attention. You may come across lots of conflicting information about it and wonder what it is and what’s the big deal about it.
Passionate about the herb, we’re here to break down kratom details for you.
So, What Is Kratom Exactly?
Kratom, scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical herbal product from the coffee, Rubiaceae, family. It is indigenous to Southeast Asia and thrives in countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea.
Mitragyna speciosa is an evergreen tree that grows up to 82 feet in height. Its leaves are dark green and have a glossy surface. Mature leaves are approximately 5-8 in long and 3-5 in wide. These trees also flower. Flowers are bright yellow and have the shape of a mace.
In the west, it’s available for sale in powdered form. Kratom capsules can also be found on the market.
In Southeast Asia, people have known about the beneficial properties of Mitragyna speciosa for centuries. The working class used it as a natural remedy to boost energy during a hard workday. They also used it to relieve colds, and soreness and help with other issues and conditions.
Some sources indicate the possible use of this beneficial plant in socio-religious ceremonies, as well.
Despite its long history in Southeast Asia, the word about Mitragyna speciosa reached the west only in the mid-19th century. That was when a Dutch colonial botanist first described it. After that, scientists changed its scientific name a few times until they settled on its current name a couple of decades later.
The kratom name in Latin is Mitragyna speciosa. There is no certain data on where the name “Mitragyna” originated from. Yet, there are a few speculations. Some believe that the Dutch scientists named it after the bishop’s miter because the shape of kratom leaves and flower stigmas resemble it.
Others suggest that it’s a reference to Mithraism. It was a mystery religion and cult in the Roman Empire that worshiped the god Mithras and rivaled Christianity.
“Speciosa”, on the other hand, is a much simpler term. Translated from Latin, it means “brilliant,” “splendid”, “spectacular”, or “impressive.”
There are seven different tree species in the Mitragyna family. Mitragyna speciosa is just one of them. Yet, none of them has quite the same properties as the speciosa species does.
Why is it so?
Most of the herb’s properties are due to its two primary alkaloids. They are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Mitragynine is the most abundant in Mitragyna speciosa whereas 7-hydroxymitragynine has the highest potency.
Nonetheless, there’s a lot more to Mitragyna speciosa than these two alkaloids. At the moment, scientists have identified that there are more than 40 active components, and 25 of them are alkaloids.
Mitragyna speciosa alkaloid content and composition can vary depending on various factors such as:
- Vein and strain type,
- Geographic location,
- Time of year,
- Amount of sunshine,
- Harvest times,
- Maturity of leaves
- Whether chemicals or pesticides were applied,
- And more.
Mitragynine makes up approximately 60% of the total alkaloid content. Some Malaysian strains can have as little as 12%, while Thai varieties can have up to 66%. On the other hand, 7-hydroxymitragynine is only about 2%, and its concentration remains relatively the same regardless of external factors.
With a few exceptions, most of the remaining 23 alkaloids make up less than 1% of the total alkaloid content. Each of these alkaloids has its unique attributes. However, scientists know a lot less about them than they do about mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, the two primary kratom alkaloids.
Up until now, studies on Mitragyna speciosa have been limited. So, there may be more beneficial compounds and properties that we aren’t aware of now. Some of the alkaloids that have been identified need to be studied in greater detail. We also need to know more about how these alkaloids interact with each other and work together.
The University of Florida College of Pharmacy received a $3.5 million two-year grant to study kratom. It was followed by another $3.4 million five-year grant.
Awarded by NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), these grants focus on Mitragyna speciosa alkaloids and their properties. The research is performed by Christopher McCurdy, the person who pioneered kratom research, and his team.
The team has reported some positive discoveries, such as kratom being able to assist individuals who suffer from opioid addiction and drug withdrawal. The grants were awarded for a 7-year period. So, we are likely to hear of more discoveries and positive evidence of kratom’s beneficial properties soon.
Kratom Veins and Strains
Not all Mitragyna speciosa leaves are the same. While all leaves are green, their veins and stems come in three different colors. That’s the reason behind the types of kratom: red vein kratom, white vein kratom, and green vein kratom.
The color of the veins depends on how these leaves grew and developed. Typically, younger leaves will have higher mitragynine and lower 7-hydroxymitragynine content, whereas the opposite is true for mature leaves. Other factors such as weather conditions and sunlight amount can influence alkaloid development, too.
Strains are primarily named based on the origin of the trees, for instance, Thai, Borneo, Sumatra, and similar. There are exceptions, though. Maeng Da kratom means “pimp grade” in Thai, and Horn varieties are named after the shape of the leaves. Bali Kratom also has slightly different reasoning behind its name. Despite its name, this variety does not originate from Bali Island.
Each strain comes in different vein colors, which give each variety a unique alkaloid profile and properties.
Red vein leaves are the most mature and have the greatest exposure to the sun. As a result, they develop red veins and stems, lower mitragynine content, and higher levels of 7-hydroxymitragynine. As a result, the red vein variety has potent analgesic and soothing properties.
Red strains are also known as slow strains. That’s because their properties make one feel relaxed and at ease.
Some of the red vein kratom strains are:
- Comforting Red Bali Kratom
- Soothing Red Maeng Da Kratom
- Relaxing Red Thai Kratom
- Calming Red Horn Kratom
- Peaceful Red Kali Kratom
White Vein speciosa leaves have veins and stems which are a little paler than the rest of the leaf tissue. These leaves also have higher levels of mitragynine and lower levels of 7-hydroxymitragynine. That doesn’t mean they aren’t potent. Quite the contrary. White strains are considered fast and are primarily known for their energizing properties.
Some white vein strains are:
- Energizing White Maeng Da Kratom
- Centering White Horn Kratom
- Invigorating White Kali Kratom
- Serene White Bali Kratom
- Uplifting White Borneo Kratom
Green Vein Mitragyna speciosa leaves have veins and stems that are the same color as the leaf tissue. Strains of this vein type are known as moderate as they combine the properties of greens and reds yet at a moderate potency.
They are great for those who are looking for a mix of soothing and energizing properties rather than one that is more prevalent. Due to their moderate properties, they are also some of the best kratom strains for beginners.
Some of the green vein strains are:
- Vitalizing Green Maeng Da Kratom
- Enlivening Green Horn Kratom
- Cheerful Green Kali Kratom
- Warming Green Malay Kratom
- Satisfying Green Bali Kratom
You may be wondering whether we have a math problem at Kraoma and can’t count the types of veins properly. Don’t worry, we don’t. While Mitragyna speciosa leaves come in three colors, there is a fourth variety. And that’s yellow kratom.
Yellow isn’t a natural vein color. Farmers apply a different drying process which results in leaves that have a yellowish tone.
Yellow Mitragyna speciosa is a moderate type, as well. But, because of the processing method applied, its alkaloid content is different, and, therefore, it has unique properties.
Yellow Bali Kratom is one of the most popular yellow vein varieties because of the wide availability of Bali speciosa trees.
Is Kratom Legal Where I Live?
In the United States, kratom is legal in most states. However, there are no laws or regulations on a federal level.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t support kratom. It labels kratom as an opioid and drug of concern with a high potential for abuse. It also states that it doesn’t have any medicinal or health benefits.
The FDA’s prompted the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to ban kratom, but this intent didn’t succeed. Nonetheless, six states and a number of cities and counties have decided to ban it.
In addition to that, several states are reviewing Kratom Consumer Protection Act, a bill to regulate kratom products.
What Is the Kratom Consumer Protection Act?
The Kratom Consumer Protection Act, also known as the KCPA, is legislation that regulates kratom. An initiative of the American Kratom Association (AKA), its goal is the safety of kratom buyers.
The KCPA includes regulations such as:
- Labeling kratom products,
- Disclosing the ingredients as well as alkaloid content in kratom products,
- Not selling any kratom products that 7-hydroxymitragynine content is more than 2% of the total alkaloid content,
- Banning kratom products that contain controlled drugs that cause dependence, psychoactive drugs, or other drugs or harmful substances,
- Prohibiting kratom sales to minors,
- Punishing kratom sellers who don’t comply with the regulations.
A few states in the US have passed the Kratom Consumer Protection Act. These include Nevada, Utah, Georgia, and Arizona. While many more are reviewing the KCPA bill, the process is slow.
Interested in finding out whether Mitragyna speciosa is legal in your state? We’ve covered kratom legality in much greater detail. Feel free to check that out.
Are there any strains that you’ve never tried, but would like to? Take a look at our free kratom samples. We offer two 10-gram samples of any strain you wish.