What are Alkaloids?
Alkaloids are the “active ingredients” in Kratom, and are responsible for most of the effect you feel. Many different plants have alkaloids, and they are a natural adaptation plants evolve to defend against their predators. The general belief is that the alkaloids in Kratom emerged as a natural pesticide and to also deter small animals from eating the leaves. Some of these alkaloids can be poisonous to humans, although many have incredible benefits. You might have heard of Quinine, which comes from the cinchona tree in Central and South America. This is used in tonic water (and also to treat and prevent malaria), to the caffeine that is present in coffee and tea.
The Two main alkaloids in Kratom: Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine
The primary alkaloid in Kratom is Mitragynine. Leaves can contain up to 2.5% of this alkaloid. The second main alkaloid present is 7-hydroxymitragynine, which occurs in much smaller quantities but is more potent to humans. Mitragynine is known to help with pain, and 7-hydroxymitragynine is a stimulant, and provides a boost of energy and focus. Green and red strains tend to have more Mitragynine, and White strains tend to have much more 7-hydroxymitragynine. The amount of each of these alkaloids depends on how the Kratom is grown, where it is grown, how old the trees are and the environment the trees are in.
Environmental Factors leading to more Kratom alkaloids
One of the direct influences on Alkaloid content is nitrogen. When the plant is exposed to higher levels of nitrogen, in either water or in the soil, the amount of alkaloids it produces tends to rise. This has diminishing returns, but enriching kratom with compounds that have nitrogen in them is a good way to augment the plant’s final alkaloid content. Other factors influencing overall plant growth are the amount of sunlight, the temperatures the plant is exposed to, and the carbon dioxide levels in the air. It has not yet been directly tested in a lab what changes to the plant these factors will change, but the stronger the plant tends to be the stronger the alkaloids are.
Age of The Plant
One of the biggest effects on Alkaloid growth is the actual age of the plant. While the start of the alkaloid growth begins when plants are young, it is during the maturation that the alkaloids grow to their full potential. Most Kratom is farmed on large plantations, and the plants tend to be younger than their wild, more mature counterparts. This younger plantation Kratom tends to be more common and weaker. Most of the Kratom plantations are in West Borneo, so Central or East Borneo sourced
More lab research needs to be done to determine what specific changes to the plants environment will have on alkaloid production. Luckily as Kratom becomes more mainstream, more and more of that research is being done!