Allah’s Medicine Chest: Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa)
By Hwaa Irfan
Mitragyna Speciosa is found in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and Africa. The African species are sometimes classed in a separate genus, Hallea are often found in swamps. Mitragyna Speciosa can be found in its indigenous locations (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Borneo, New Guinea, the Sunda isles,. It has all the same properties as opiates without containing the actual chemicals.
It was used as a cure all for various physical and mental ailments in Thailand.Thai labourers and farmers chewed on leaves to overcome effects of working under prolonged sun exposure. In the West, Dutch botanist Pieter Korthals in the early 19th century described its flowers as reminding him somewhat of a Bishop’s mitre so he named this tree Mitragyna. Yet, it is only within the past 15 years that Kratom has been used in the West.
Kratom is in the same family as the coffee tree, Rubiaceae. Known as biak biak, ketum (Malaysia), kakaum, kraton, ithang, and thom (Thailand), the leaves are widely chewed in countries where the tree grows naturally. Mitragyna Speciosa trees are evergreen and are extremely important to its natural environment , not only because they prevent erosion of the river banks where they are found. As such, it grows best in lots of sunlight and water, and requires very rich, fertile soil. It is drought sensitive, and if grown out of its native habitat, sensitive to frost. The tree reaches a height of 50ft, and spreads more than 15ft with a straight trunk.. The leaves grow opposite each other on the branch and are dark – light green with an ovate shape with a tapered end. The veins of the leaves range from white/green-veins to red-veins.The leaves shed and are continuously replaced throughout the year. The flowers are yellow and grow in clusters, and the seeds are winged. The Mitragyna Speciosa is most potent in late summer autumn and early winter when grown in its natural habitat.
Chemical analysis has shown that some kratom products are adulterated with other substances. In some cases the kratom has been “cut” with less expensive herbs to reduce the seller’s cost and increase profits. In some cases synthetic drugs have been added to enhance the effects. In some cases products kratom extract don’t contain any kratom. Disturbingly, some products labeled as kratom extracts have been found to contain the “designer drug” O-desmethyltramadol, which is a dangerously potent synthetic opioid drug. Sadly, products containing this compound have resulted in several deaths (first reported in Sweden).
Analysis has also found kratom laced with hydrocodone and morphine. Obviously, it is important to obtain kratom from a trustworthy source
Chemical Properties differ according to the plant component, and area grown. They include:
- 7-OH-mitragynine (alkaloid)
- 7-hydroxymitragynine – Analgesic, antidiarrhoeal, antitussive
- 9-Hydroxycorynantheidine – Analgesic
- Ajmalicine – Sedative (Anti-Adrenergic), increase blood flow to brain, smooth muscle relaxer
- Ciliaphylline – Analgesic, antitussive
- Corynoxine A – Dopamine Mediator
- Corynoxine B – Dopamine Mediator
- Corynantheidine –Antagonist
- Epicatechin (EGC) – Antioxidant, antiviral, anti-mutagenic, anti-leukemic, anti inflammatory, anti-diabetic.
- Isomitraphylline – Immune System Stimulant
- Isomitrafoline – Immune System Stimulant
- Isorhynchophylline – Immune System Stimulant
- Isopteropodine – Immune System Stimulant
- Mitragynine – Analgesic, antidiarrheal, antitussive, adrenergic receptor agonist (mild stimulant), antimalarial
- Mitraphylline – Muscle relaxer, vasodilator, anti-hypertensive, anti-amnesic, immune system stimulant, anti-leukemic
- Rhynchophylline – Anti-inflammatory, vasodilator, anti-hypertensive
- Tetrahydroalstonine – Anti-adrenergic, lowers blood sugar
- Speciogynine – Smooth Muscle Relaxer
- Speciociliatine – Mild opiod receptor agonist
- Speciophylline – Anti-leukemic
In a study conducted by Takayama et al., 66.2% of the crude extract from the plants grown in Thailand was mitragynine, 6.6% was speciogynine, 0.8% was speciociliatine, 8.6%, was paynantheine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine was 2.0%. These five compounds were also found in the Malaysian plant, but at lower concentrations.
The latest research indicates that the main component of the herb, the alkaloid mitragynine, and its metabolite and oxidation product, 7-hydroxymitragynine, produce an effect on certain opioid receptors separate from many of the mechanisms that precipitate many opioid side effects.
In 1979, Thailand kratom came under the Addictive Substances Law, which placed in Category V. In Malaysia, mitragynine was listed in January 2003 as a psychotropic substance of the Poisons Act of 1952; however, planting the kratom tree is not considered an offense and local law enforcement have no authority to remove the trees. It is illegal in Australia, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, Israel, Denmark, Myanmar, and South Korea. In Finland kratom is classified as a medicine that requires a prescription.
A low dose is 1 – 5gm of dried leaves, a moderate dose is 5 -15 gm, and 16+ gm is a high dose.
In 1966, bio-pirates Arnold H Beckett, and Macko Edward under Patent US 3256149 A on behalf of Smith Kline French Lab, U.S. have produced a crystalline alkaloid produced from the powdered leaves of Mitragyna speciosa using alcohol. The filtered acid solution is made basic with concentrated ammonia and extracted with ether to apply this concoction as an analgesic which happens to be more effective than codeine.
The juice has become established as an effective colon cleanser, also cleansing the liver, kidneys, spleen, and bladder. Also, Aloe barbadensis…
Analgesic – reduces pain
Anti-diabetic – lowers blood sugar
Antidiarrhoeal – Stems diarrhoea
Anti-Inflammatory – Reduces inflammation/swellings by helping the body to overcome the problem
Anti-leukemic – cytotoxic activity against leukemia
Anthelmintic – expels/destroys parasitic worms
Anti-mutagenic – Prevents cell mutation
Antioxidant -prevents oxidation of cells
Antiviral – especially in cases of malaria
Antitussive – relieves coughing
Aphrodisiac – promotes energy and duration
Hepatic – Strengthens and tones the liver. Increases secretions in the liver
Sedative – at higher doses
Stimulant – at lower doses: the nervous system, immune system
Depression– the varieties: Thai, Maeng Da, Green Malaysian, for anxiety the varieties: Borneo, Indo, Bali
Cognition Enhancement – By increasing focus (Green Malaysian, Thai, Maeng Da)
Immune System Stimulation – (Green Malaysian, Borneo)
Opiate Withdrawal/Addiction – the varieties: Borneo, Bali, Indo help with the transition from addiction to non-addiction
Fang Gong, Hai-peng Gu, Qi-tai Xu, and Wen-yi Kang of the Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, Henan University, China found strong anti-cancerous properties in M. speciosa as well as acting as a stimulant to glucose transport in muscle cells. In the African variety, M. inermis they found it induces and increases in coronary flow without inducing tachycardia.
West African species as M. inermis and M. stipulosa are traditionally used against malaria, the former and leukaemia. M. africanus, is used in Nigeria to treat mental illness, while M. ciliate/ ledermanni and M. stipulosa /Hallea ciliata, is used to treat inflammation, hypertension, headache, rheumatism, gonorrhoea and broncho-pulmonary diseases.
In S.E. Asia traditionally native usually collect the fresh leaves and chew them in a quid to provide relief from fatigue and aid work ethic, much as coca leaves are consumed in the Andes of South America. An average dose for beginning to moderate kratom users is between three and ten fresh leaves, while experienced kratom chewers may take as many as 20 leaves at one time, 2-3 times daily. In the fresh preparation, the leaf vein is extracted, and salt is often added to prevent constipation. Users traditionally follow the chewing of fresh kratom leaves by partaking of a hot beverage such as warm water or coffee (Murple 2006). Other ways that people consume kratom include smoking the leaves, steeping them in a tea, or making a resin extraction of the foliage. In this preparation, kratom leaves are boiled down in a bit of water until the plant material has been reduced to a tar-like consistency; the resulting resin can then be shaped into balls and rolled in an edible material like flour for storage. Resin balls keep for several weeks, making this a very popular method of storing and consuming kratom.
Kratom leaves are often chewed fresh (usually after removing the stringy central vein). Dried leaves can also be chewed, but since they are a bit tough, most people prefer to crush them up or powder them so that they can be swallowed easily. Powdered kratom can be mixed with water and then drunk. This method is quick and easy. It can also be mixed with other liquids, such as fruit juice, milk, or kefir. Chocolate milk works especially well for masking the taste. Powdered kratom can also be made into a paste that can easily be swallowed with water. The powder can also be mixed with applesauce or yogurt. It can also be put into capsules. Dried kratom leaves are often made into a tea that is strained and then drunk. Kratom can be smoked, but doing so is impractical because the amount of leaf that constitutes a typical dose is too much to be smoked easily. A resin-like extract can be prepared by evaporating the water from kratom tea. This can be stored for later use. Small pellets of this extract can be swallowed, or it can be dissolved in hot water and consumed as a tea. Some people like to mix kratom tea with ordinary black tea, or other herbal teas, before it is consumed. This is done to make it more palatable. Sugar or honey can be added to sweeten it.
It is used in folk medicine as a stimulant (at low doses), sedative (at high doses), recreational drug, pain killer, medicine for diarrhoea, and treatment for opiate addiction. Many people report that kratom is an effective treatment for arthritis, restless legs syndrome (RLS), and fibromyalgia.
When kratom is taken by itself (without mixing it with other drugs), the greatest risk is falling asleep while engaged in hazardous activities.
This is another very common preparation method, both in the west and east. Learning how to make kratom tea is fairly simple:
- Add water to pot (3-10 ounces)
- Add desired kratom dose
- Simmer for 15 – 45 minutes (20 minutes typically suffices)
- Optional: strain powder
Tea is considered effective by many because of the quick onset of effects; however, by straining out the powder, one may lose the full alkaloid spectrum of the plain leaf, reducing some medicinal potentials.
- Adding water to kratom powder and freezing prior to making tea can increase the amount of alkaloids absorbed
- Adding lemon juice, or small amounts of citric acid can also increase amount of alkaloids absorbed
- One can salvage the strained powder from tea and reuse it to ensure no alkaloids are wasted
In Thailand addiction was equated with dependence, inability to quit using kratom and a strong desire for kratom when not using it. Withdrawal symptoms were cited by users as a physical pain in their back, legs, or muscles.
Long – term use side effects are anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, skin darkening, dry mouth, frequent urination, and constipation though this might be due to taking kratom as an extract or/and dried form.
Routine toxicologic screens do not detect kratom.
In balance He gave us everything we needed, but as for what we want!
Beckett, A.H., Edward, M. Compositions comprising an alkaloid of mitragyna speciosa and methods of using same http://www.google.com/patents/US3256149
Daniels, Jace A. Mitragyna Speciosa: An Analytical Study.mhsl.uab.edu/dt/2015/Daniels_uab_0005M_11592.pdf
Gong, F. Gu, H. Xu, Q, Kang, W. Genus Mitragyna: Ethnomedicinal uses and pharmacological studies. inforesights.com/phytopharmacology/files/pp3v2i4.pdf
The Kratom Bible ensobotanicals.com/kratom/