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Research shows that kratom is similar to morphine and other opiates in the way that it affects the brain. It acts as an opioid receptor agonist and mimics the structure of endogenous endorphins found in the body.
These endorphins are naturally released in the body as a response to pain, orgasm, excitement, or rigorous physical exertion. Both mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are partial agonists with high binding affinity toward the µ- and κ-receptors.
Kratom is different from other opioids in the sense that it has an affinity towards the serotonin, norepinephrine and k-opioid receptor systems. This is mainly what contributes towards the stimulant properties of the substance.
Kratom also contains rhynchophylline and mitraphylline which act as N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDA receptors). NMDA receptors excite neurotransmitters of cognitive functions such as memory and learning and can also induce euphoria.
Kratom leaves contain over forty different alkaloids, with chemical properties strongly resembling that of psychoactive drugs, but without the psychoactive effects. Instead, benefits ranging from increased energy to pain relief have been reported.
The primary active constituents include the alkaloids mitragynine, mitraphylline, and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Let’s have a closer look.
Dried kratom contains between 1.2% and 2.1% mitragynine. This compound often termed a “legal opioid” is known to both improve your mood and give an analgesic effect. It acts upon opioid receptors in the brain, while also slightly elevating blood pressure levels. Mitragynine is a highly effective treatment for opiate withdrawal thanks to having a very high opioid agonistic activity.
Mitraphylline is a non-narcotic present in kratom and other herbal supplements such as Cat’s Claw. Its most prominent effect is the boost which it gives to your inflammatory response. Not only is mitraphylline excellent at relieving pain and inflammation, but research is also underway to confirm its efficacy at inducing apoptosis in breast cancer, leukemia, and sarcoma.
7-hydroxymitragynine is most responsible for the opiate-like effects of kratom, being a terpenoid indole alkaloid which is seventeen times higher in opioid agnostic activity than morphine. Yet it remains far milder than morphine, with far less (and less intense) side effects.
Additional alkaloids include Ajmalicin, 7-acetoxymitragynine, Corynantheidin, Corynoxein, Corinoxin, Isomitraphylline, Isopteropodine, Paynanthein, Rhynchophylline, Speciociliatin, Speciogynine and Tetrahydroalstonine.
The main active compounds in kratom are present in the highest quantity in the leaves. Some chew the leaves themselves, or even smoke them. They can also be brewed into a tea, although powdered kratom is most common. Taken either as is or mixed into food, Kratom powder is typically sold in bulk volumes or as capsules for easy administration.