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The Science of Mitragyna Speciosa

Jemi Fischbach

Mitragyna Speciosa – or Kratom as it is better known – is a tree which grows prolifically in South East Asia. A member of the Rubiaceae family, Kratom is related to the coffee plant but they contain very different alkaloids, which we will look at more closely further into this article.

Native to Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, Kratom thrives in the lush, warm, and humid conditions, and can be found growing on both farms and in the jungle – in fact, when the Thai government imposed a ban on Kratom in 1943 and ordered all existing trees to be destroyed, it continued to flourish in the dense landscape unhindered.

The Kratom tree can vary in size, although in general it stands at 4-9 feet; in the right conditions, however, it can grow to more than four times that height.

The Kratom leaf is oval in shape and dark green, and it is the leaves of this tropical tree which are processed into the powder we know today.

Kratom’s Alkaloids

As we mentioned earlier, Mitragyna Speciosa is related to the coffee plant, but the difference between them is in the alkaloids. Whereas coffee’s main alkaloid is caffeine, Kratom’s is one known as mitragynine which is actually just one of more than 40 found in the plant.

However, mitragynine isn’t the only important alkaloid in Kratom; 7-hydroxymitragynine is another, and it is the balance of these two active ingredients which determines the potency and properties of each strain.  For example; in Thai Kratom, mitragynine is more abundant at up to 66% of the total alkaloid content, whereas in a Malaysian Kratom, mitragynine only accounts for around 12%. The concentrations of 7-hydroxymitragynine are much lower (only 2% in Thai Kratom) BUT 7-hydroxymitragynine is around 46 times more potent than mitragynine.

Kratom’s Properties

Of course, each individual will react to Kratom in a different way, so it is important to look into each strain to see which one would be a good starting block for you. There is plenty of information available so take your time, read up on each strain, and make an informed decision for you.

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