Kratom Strains – And What They Can Do For You

Though kratom has been around for quite some time, it has only entered into the mainstream arena within the last several years. As a plant, it offers many different medicinal and recreational qualities. So, here’s a bit about kratom strains and what they can do for you.

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What is kratom?

Before getting into the specific strains of kratom, best to answer the question of what it is. Kratom – or Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. It’s actually from the coffee family. Kratom can be found in Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Indonesia, and has been used in natural medicine for at least hundreds – and possibly thousands, of years. It became a part of Western medicine in the 1800’s when Pieter Willem Korthals, a Dutch botanist, classified the plant as Stephegyne speciosa. This was later reclassified by George Darby Haviland in 1859 to it’s current status.

Kratom can produce a stimulant effect similar to coca leaves when its leaves are chewed. But there’s a strange aspect to kratom apart from this. While it can be like the coca plant in small doses, where euphoria and alertness are triggered, it can also act more like an opiate, and overall downer, in higher doses.

Why does this happen? While it’s not well understood, kratom has 26 different alkaloids which have been identified, and they are responsible for the different attributes of the plant. These include: 7-hydroxymitragynine, mitragynine, and (-)-epicatechin, among others. 7-hydroxymitragynine only comprises a small percentage of the plant, but its potent, and reacts with opioid receptors.

The most common alkaloid is mitragynine, which binds to delta receptors to give stimulant effects in smaller doses, and which also binds to mu receptors in larger doses, which creates a sedative effect. This compound could explain the difference in effects at different doses. Lastly, it contains alkaloid (-)-epicatechin, a compound that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, and which can minimize free radical damage. This flavonoid can be found in other places like cherries, grapes, tea leaves, cocoa, apples, blackberries, and broad beans.

kratom

Sometimes its even considered a psychedelic because of its alkaloid structure, which resembles the structure of drugs like psilocybin and LSD. However, even with a similar alkaloid structure, and the ability for euphoria and stimulation, it does not produces the same psychedelic effects as the other drugs mentioned.

Is kratom addictive?

This is an important point to touch on. Though local governments certainly have it out for kratom, it’s good to remember that these same local governments were/(and often still are) putting out smear campaign after smear campaign for cannabis, just to take 180º turns and legalize it when they can no longer substantiate their made up arguments. Perhaps this is simply to help bolster pharmaceutical industries by keeping natural plants away from consumers. Whatever is going on isn’t quite right, and really, kratom is a great example.

There are studies that show a certain level of dependence on the plant, but perhaps this word shouldn’t be used at all. A dependence is an addiction, it’s simply another word for it. ‘Dependence’ is often used to denote a physical dependence, and the word ‘addiction’ is generally used for that same concept, but in the context of continuing to do the drug despite negative consequences. These definitions aren’t different, no matter how much this is flubbed in the press. They both denote a situation whereby a user’s body has acclimated enough to a substance, that a certain level of withdrawal will happen upon stopping, thus keeping the user using.

In fact, to give an idea of just how ridiculous this gets, check out this attempt to differentiate the two according to Turnbridge: “When people talk about addiction, they are usually referring to the harmful effects that drugs and alcohol have on a person’s behavior. When they talk about dependence, they are typically inferring that the person is reliant on drugs and alcohol, despite the negative consequences.”

One is saying that a person is going to keep taking something despite its harmful effects, and one is saying that a person is going to keep taking something despite its negative consequences. Maybe it’s just me, but ‘harmful effects’ and ‘negative consequences’ sound about the same. In fact, this definition is trying so hard, that it leaves out one of the main aspects of addiction, and then only relates it to dependence; that a person is reliant physically or mentally. This is the same for both terms, meaning in the end they are merely synonyms.

This is all important here, because whatever research that did show some sort of addiction/dependence, also strongly indicated that while the plant can (if this is even true) cause a certain level of dependence, this dependence does not lead to bad health, like it does much of the time with hard drugs like opioids. As in, those who use kratom, remain healthy. If this is an addiction, sounds like a pretty good one to have. In fact a 2014 study out of Malaysia showed literally no impairment of social functioning, with literally all complaints coming out of the West, where the pharma industry reigns supreme.

What can kratom be used for?

This is an interesting question which has more to do with where it’s being used at this point, East, or West. Traditional uses out of Southeast Asia include chewing the leaves, making them into a tea, or smoking them (though this is less common). Historically its been used to treat fever, pain, wounds, to enhance physical endurance, to stop diarrhea, and for stress relief. It has also been used to help with substance abuse and withdrawal. Imagine that, a plant fingered by the West for causing addiction, is actually known to help deal with addictions from actually dangerous drugs.

kratom medicine

In fact, in the West, that’s one of its main purposes. Yes, you can facepalm this one. While the West tells you its addictive, its main use, aside from pain relief, is to help people deal with addictions to other drugs. It has also entered into recreational use in the West, sold as a way to get high, with concentrated forms of alkaloid mitragynine becoming the main ingredient of products. This is NOT how its used in Southeast Asia.

In Southeast Asia, the plant can be legally distributed, meaning the producer is known, whereas in the West, it generally comes from anonymous internet sites, and often in unusual forms, like pills, capsules, powders, and gum.

Whereas kratom has no death count in Southeast Asia, these unsafe practices in the West have led to reports of seizures, hypothyroidism, and liver injury, although a closer look indicates strongly that its still not even kratom, but mixtures with other substances. Case in point, ‘Krypton’ out of Sweden, which caused nine deaths, but which also included the synthetic opioid O-desmethyltramadol.

Kratom strains by color

Like with most plants, there is not just one type of kratom, but many strains, each which can offer specific benefits. The strains can be separated by color and by location. When dealing with color, this relates to the veins of the leaf. The three main colors are white, green, and red:

White – White strains are very popular and are related to many benefits including stimulating and energizing effects. They can increase mental alertness, lift mood, help with concentration, and promote better stamina. Overall, they have more of an upper effect than the other colors.

Green – These strains are like middle strains for effects. They can be relaxing or energizing, but not in extremes, so no feeling super drowsy or super stimulated. These strains are especially good for muscle and joint pain, and are often looked to for their euphoric effects.

Red – These come from letting the plant mature more, as that means higher amounts of 7-hydroxymitragynine, which is known for binding to pain receptors. These strains are the best for pain relief, as well as promoting feelings of calm and relaxation, and promoting sleep. This is opposite to white kratom, and represents the other end of the spectrum.

Kratom strains by type

Apart from color, kratom types are often denoted by the location they were found, as different climates can produce different kinds of plants. Each type can be found in the different colors red, green, and white, meaning each type can be associated with different strains, which have different effects depending on the color they are.

Kratom tea

Malay – These strains are known for their stimulation effects and pain reducing effects, which are not brought on with fatigue or drowsiness. They are good for positivity, focus, and attention. These strains are often mixed with green or white strains since together they prevent overstimulation. These are longer lasting strains.

Sumatra – From Sumatra, Indonesia, the red version can be used for stress reduction and sleep, whereas the white version is more for energy and euphoria. These strains also last a little longer, but lack the intensity of some, and are good for promoting focus and stimulation for a whole day.

Maeng Da – These are stronger strains out of Thailand. They can be used as a caffeine substitute as they promote energy and mood. Their effects are long lasting and intense, leading many users to take smaller doses. Their pain relief qualities kick in at higher doses, when they can produce feelings of calm and control anxiety, as well.

Bornea – Also known as ‘Bali’ kratom, these strains are more relaxing than others, and promote feelings of euphoria, as well as helping with pain relief. They produce less energy and stimulation than other strains, and are known more for their downer and pain controlling effects.

Vein kratom – This doesn’t denote specific strains, but a different way of using the plant. Vein kratom relates to using the stems and veins of the plants specifically to access different alkaloid combinations. This is done through crushing stems and veins, which has been known to produce calming and mood-enhancing effects.

Then there is also yellow kratom, which is generally a mix of two other colors. This means yellow does not indicate a distinct strain type, but a combination of two different color strains. There is also Bentuangie Kratom, which is specifically a fermented red kratom, and which is known by users for its intense pain relief qualities.

Conclusion

Not only has plant medicine been around for thousands of years, but it has persisted through the advent of Western medicine, which says quite a bit about the positive benefits that plants can provide. In the case of kratom, I’ll venture a bet that it won’t solve a lot of problems if the user isn’t willing to take a look at their life and habits, and make major changes within. But that doesn’t mean it can’t help. If you think kratom might be beneficial for you, check out the different types and strains available to find one that meets your needs, and as always, make sure to know your brands if you want to ensure quality.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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Everything You Need to Know About Kratom

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a flowering evergreen tree related to the coffee plant. It is indigenous to Southeast Asia but has been gaining popularity in western culture for its stimulating and pain-relieving effects. Kratom is used both recreationally and therapeutically, and just like cannabis, it’s incredibly controversial.

For quite some time now, the US Drug Enforcement Agency has been trying to add kratom to the Schedule I list of controlled substances. The available government information, plus a handful of misguided university studies, peg kratom as a “dangerous” plant with no known medical benefits. However, as a lifelong cannabis user, and someone who has watched weed transform from illegitimate and “dangerous” to a trending wellness product, I can say with certainty that we’re not getting the full story about kratom either.

When it comes to firsthand accounts from others, as well as my own personal experiences with the plant, and the hundreds of reports I’ve read online – everything indicates that kratom has therapeutic benefits that are worth investigating. As a matter of fact, the most common concern among consumers had nothing to do with the plant itself, but rather what will happen to them when they no longer have access to kratom products.

Kratom is made up of dozen of alkaloids, compounds which are known to hold medicinal value and have been studied independently for decades. Quite a few independent studies have noted the pharmaceutical potential of Kratom.

That’s not to say there are no risks. But, as is the case with any consumable product, some people may experience unexpected, adverse effects while the overwhelming majority do not. For the most part, people largely support the use of kratom and feel it’s vital to their quality of life – and when people talk, I think it’s important for us to listen.

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The chemistry behind the plant

Although scientific literature on Kratom is scarce, it’s been around for a while and has piqued the interest of a few select researchers from around the world. What we do know that a total of 26 alkaloids have been isolated from kratom, and many of these compounds have been studied individually.

Alkaloids are a class of basic, naturally occurring organic compounds that contain at least one nitrogen atom. They are produced by a large variety of organisms including bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals and can be purified from crude extracts of these organisms by acid-base extraction, or solvent extractions followed by silica-gel column chromatography. Alkaloids have a wide range of pharmacological activities and a lot of research to back this  up.

The most abundant alkaloid in Kratom is mitragynine, and for decades it was also believed to be the most potent. Then in 2002, a group of Japanese researchers found a variant called 7-hydronitragynine was discovered. This minor compound is extremely potent, more powerful than morphine, and despite being found only in trace amounts, it’s responsible for most of kratom’s pain-fighting properties. Further research has determined that both alkaloids act as partial opioid receptor agonists by activating the supraspinal mu- and delta- opioid receptors. 

Kratom’s many chemical compounds

The alkaloid structure of kratom bares many similarities to those of other psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin, but no mind-altering effects of that nature have even been reported after kratom use. Rather, kratom can be energizing and increase focus at low doses, and act as a depressant at higher doses. Regardless of the amount ingested, a certain level of pain relief can also be expected, thanks to kratom’s many alkaloid compounds.

Researchers have been able to isolate the following 26 alkaloids from kratom: Ajmalicin, 7-acetoxymitragynine, Corynantheidin, Corynoxein, Corinoxin, 3-Dehydromitragynin, (-)-Epicatechin, 3-Isocorynantheidin, 3-Isopaynanthein, Isomitraphyllin, Isospeciofolin, Isospecionoxein, Mitraciliatin, Mitrafolin, Mitragynalin , Mitraphylin, Mitraspecin, Mitraversin, Paynanthein, Speciociliatin, Speciofolin, Speciogynin, Specionoxein, Speciogynin, Speciofolin, and Stipulatin.

In total, kratom actually contains over 40 chemical compounds, but we’ll narrow it down to the three most important ones, 7-Hydroxymitragynine, Mitragynine and (-)-Epicatechin.

7-HYDROXYMITRAGYNINE

7-Hydroxymitragynine is technically a minor compound in kratom, but it’s by far the most potent, making it the main active ingredient in kratom powders and other products. This alkaloid has opioid agonistic activity and interacts with the three major opioid sites Kappa, Delta and Mu.

MITRAGYNINE

Mitragynine is an indole alkaloid that was isolated for the first time by D. Hooper in 1907. It’s the most abundant compound in kratom, and until 2002 was believed to be the most potent, although the latter turned out to not be the case. Small doses bind to the Delta receptors and act as a stimulant, while larger doses bind to the Mu receptors and have sedative effects.

(-)-EPICATECHIN

Epicatechin is a versatile flavanol that has anti-inflammatory effects and can help protect against free radicals. Epicatechin is one of the most abundant flavonoids present in different fruits such as apples, blackberries, broad beans, cherries, grapes, pears, raspberries, cocoa, and tea leaves.

History of kratom use

Kratom use spans back centuries and it’s hard to argue with a plant that has existed around humans for so long and has so many people and from different regions and cultures advocating for it.

As with most of the existing natural and holistic remedies, kratom use can be traced back to traditional Eastern medicine. Historically, in regions such as the Philippines and New Guinea, the chopped leaves were chewed or brewed into tea by local manual laborers who needed to stave fatigue and improve productivity at work. Additionally, various kratom preparations have been used during social and religious ceremonies and to treat numerous different medical conditions.

In Western literature, Kratom was first noted in the early 19th century but Dutch botanist Willem Korthals, who worked for the East India Company, an English company formed for to exploit trade options between the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and India. Researcher E. M. Holmes also referred to Kratom’s use as an opium substitute, identifying it specifically as Mitragyna speciosa in 1895.

Medical benefits

Again, official studies on kratom are lacking, but a recent survey of more than 2,700 self-reported users conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that a large majority of people are using this plant to alleviate pain. They also concluded that kratom “likely has a lower rate of harm and abuse” than prescription opioids, which are responsible for almost 50,000 deaths in the United States every year.

In a report on the findings, published in the Feb. 3 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the researchers caution that “ while self-reporting surveys aren’t always entirely reliable, they confirmed that kratom is not regulated or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and that scientific studies have not been done to formally establish safety and benefits.”

According to American Kratom Association (AKA), a consumer advocacy group, an estimated 10 to 16 million people in the U.S. are using kratom regularly. Kratom is full of alkaloids, which are present in many aspects of human life, including much of what we consume. Alkaloids have showed anti-inflammatory, anticancer, analgesics, local anesthetic and pain relief, neuropharmacologic, antimicrobial, antifungal, and many other activities

Benefits of kratom use include but are not limited to: elevated mood, increased energy, healthy and restful sleep, boosted energy, muscle relaxation, natural aphrodisiac, eliminate social anxiety, pain relief, and it can be used to help minimize the symptoms of withdrawal from illicit drugs.  

Risks and adverse reactions

The jury is still out on what exactly the risks of kratom are, and whether they outweigh the benefits or not. Clueless researchers who have no firsthand experience with the plant say “yes” the risks are far too great, whereas anecdotes from people who have been using kratom regularly for years say “no” it’s totally safe and beneficial for overall wellness and quality of life.

That said, some people actually do have negative reactions to kratom such as high blood pressure and seizures. I feel like it’s important to emphasize that this can happen with anything though, just like people can have allergic or other physical reactions to perfectly healthy foods and natural compounds.

Data from the Poison Control states that, between 2011 and 2017, call centers in the United States received about 1,800 reports that involved kratom use – although many of them were more a combination of paranoia and hypochondria rather then any real physical symptoms. Additional side effects can include dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness, hallucinations, shortness of breath, and chills.

In the same vein as other pain medications, problems with negative side effects typically occur when kratom is used in unusually high doses or for a prolonged period of time. From what I’ve read, all of the negative experiences with kratom involved the use of highly concentrated extracts, not the bulk powered or teas that most people are using.

Final thoughts

So, now that you’re more informed on the inner workings of this natural pain reliever, you’re probably wondering if kratom is right for you. Ultimately, that’s up to you to decide, but it’s certainly a sought-after, natural pain-reliever for anyone who doesn’t have a medical condition that would prevent them from using kratom.

What are your experiences with the plant? What are your favorite kratom products? If you have an opinion on the matter, we would love to hear more from you! Drop us a line in the comment section below and don’t forget to subscribe to the CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter for more information on flowers and exclusive deals on flowers and other products.  

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