Kratom contains multiple alkaloids, which are the active compounds responsible for its effects. Alkaloids aren’t unique to kratom and are actually quite common in many plants, which use the compounds as a defense against animals and predators. Due to this, some alkaloids can be dangerous to humans. Many alkaloids are harmless or even beneficial to humans, and we regularly consume alkaloids in the form of coffee or quinine in tonic water.
Kratom’s main alkaloid is called mitragynine. Dried kratom leaves can contain around two percent mitragynine. Other alkaloids present in kratom aren’t as active and don’t have as many effects. There is also 7-hydroxymitragynine, a potent alkaloid that occurs in lower concentrations in dried kratom leaves. The alkaloid content in kratom can change quite a bit depending on how a kratom tree grows and what its growing environment is like.
How are Kratom’s Alkaloids Produced?
Alkaloids are formed in plant tissues when plants are young and actively growing. There are many different factors that can influence how much alkaloids a plant will produce and how much they will make at any one time. Alkaloids are connected to specific gene pathways, and any external influence on those pathways can affect production. Light, temperature, and soil content can all affect how kratom trees produce alkaloids.
What do These Alkaloids Do?
The main alkaloids in kratom, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, bind with opioid receptors in your brain to produce certain sensations. These can be feelings of increased happiness, the ability to sleep better, or relax more. It’s important to treat kratom as you would any medicine that you are putting into your body. Even though it’s a natural plant, it’s potent effects on the human brain still mean that it should be taken and treated with care.