What is Kratom Extract. Pt 2. – So Long, and Thanks for All the 42x

What is Kratom Extract. Pt 2. – So Long, and Thanks for All the 42x

Read the first part: What is Kratom Extract Pt. 1 – To extract or not to extract

In our first article, we covered the basics of  kratom extract: What is kratom extract? How are extracts made?  What is actually in kratom extract?  This article will continue where we left off, and dig a little bit deeper into what is actually in your average kratom extract and how the extract’s make-up relates to some typical kratom extract terminology.  We will then talk about one of the most misunderstood, mismarketed, and misinformation-filled areas of the kratom market, kratom extract concentrations (those little X’s you see after many kratom product names).  Once we have this additional knowledge under our belt, we will use it to identify some warning signs to look out for when venturing out to buy kratom extracts online.

Mitragynine Alkaloid

Recall from our first article, that within each kratom leaf lie 25 different alkaloids.  When we make a kratom extract, we collect those alkaloids while removing uninteresting plant material (cellulose, wax, etc).  Not all kratom extracts collect all 25 of these alkaloids, however. Even those extracts that collect all 25 alkaloids may not collect them in proportions equal to their natural occurrence in the leaf. For example, 50% of the kratom alkaloids in a kratom leaf is mitragynine . For a variety of reasons, an extract may not be 50% mitragynine.  Instead, the extract may consist of significantly more or less than 50% mitragynine, making its alkaloid profile different than that of natural leaf.  This will happen in some extractions because certain alkaloids are easier to extract with one solvent (such as alcohol) while others are easier to extract with another solvent (such as water).  So, if the person making the extract uses alcohol to perform the extraction, the resulting extract will have a higher concentration of those alkaloids that dissolve easily in alcohol (such as mitragynine) and less of those that are more soluble in water.

For many kratom enthusiasts, kratom extracts that contain all 25 alkaloids in the same proportions as found in the natural kratom leaf are the preferred types of extracts. In the kratom community, extracts with the same kinds and proportions of alkaloids as regular powdered are known as: Full Spectrum Kratom Extracts. As full spectrum kratom extracts match the alkaloid profile of the kratom leaf from which they came, they tend to be most similar to a concentrated version of regular leaf kratom. Non-full spectrum kratom extracts, on the other hand, usually concentrate one or few of the alkaloids present in Kratom while removing or minimizing others. The alkaloids present in larger proportions than usual in these non-full spectrum extracts are usually mitragynine or 7-hydroxymitragynine.  Despite the fact that the majority of alkaloids in kratom show up in amounts of less than 1% of the total alkaloid content, many kratom enthusiasts feel the interaction of these secondary alkaloids with the primary alkaloids such as mitragynine make them inseparable from one another.  While this may be up for debate, it is quite true that full non-full spectrum extracts tend to differ significantly from powdered or crushed leaf and this lends support to the idea that sum of alkaloids is greater than any single one alone.

Because many prefer ‘Full Spectrum’ extracts and their concentrated nature can often make some extracts difficult to work with, extracts are frequently mixed together with plain leaf Kratom into what is  known as a kratom blend. It it thought that kratom blends achieve two goals.  First, they make extract easier to work with by spreading a small amount of extract within a larger amount of plain leaf.  Secondly, by mixing the extract within a plain leaf, one can ensure that the blends alkaloid profile contains all those found in plain leaf (because it is actually mixed in with the extract).  For example, this Indonesian kratom blend ensures the blend contains all the alkaloids in kratom leaf  by mixing a kratom extract with Indonesian kratom leaf.   This enhanced bali blends a concentrated kratom extract within bali kratom leaf.

Enhanced Indonesian Kratom

Enhanced Indonesian Kratom

While the proportion and type of alkaloids present in a kratom extract is a distinguishing factor among extracts, another important distinction is the extract concentration. Kratom extract concentration is almost always labeled by an ‘X’ value after its name. Most of the misconceptions surrounding kratom extracts are due to this ‘X’-factor and inaccuracies about what it actually means.  Some kratom vendors wrongly claim that the ‘X’ value relates to activity. That is, they claim that 1g of 10x kratom extract is 10 times as active as 1 gram of kratom powder. This is incorrect, and this unfortunate mismarketing of kratom extract has led many to decry kratom extracts as ineffective or fraudulent.

Instead of referring to the level of activity, the ‘X’ actually refers to the amount of plant material was used to make the extract.  Therefore, a 1oz of 10x extract was created from 10oz of regular plant material. This is a subtle but important distinction. But wait, you may be thinking, if 10 times the amount of plain leaf is used to make the 10x extract doesn’t that mean that there are 10 times the alkaloids in the extract?

If the extraction process was perfect, this might be the case. Unfortunately, any extraction process is far from perfect.  It varies greatly based on the solvent and mechanisms used to perform the extraction. Large amounts of alkaloids are unable to be recovered or are lost during the extraction process. Significant amounts of the alkaloids are unable to be extracted and significant amounts of ‘filler’ plant material are collected with the alkaloids. Depending on the extraction method, the profile of the alkaloids collected may be heavily biased towards collecting one alkaloid while leaving another behind. In short, the ‘X’ value can be close to meaningless.  For two extracts with different ‘X’ concentration that used the exact same type leaf and used the exact same extraction method, the one thing that could be said with some level of certainty is that the one that used more leaf would have more of some alkaloid.  Unfortunately, we would not be able to say which alkaloid that was, or if was even one we were interested in.

I know that this may be a bit disappointing.  I know I was when I realized that the one element of kratom marketing which seemed to be straight-forward and easy to understand, that larger numbers are better than smaller numbers, was anything but.  This does lead us to some advice we can use when seeking to buy kratom extract.  The first rule of kratom extracts is that all extracts are not created equal. With few exceptions, such as a very common 15x extract which is carried by many vendors, it is very good practice not to assume that one vendor’s extract is the same as another, even if they have the same ‘X’ concentration.  One vendor could use a good extraction process while another use a less desirable or cheaper process.  The final products could be worlds apart despite the fact that they both concentrate the same amount of material.

Mystery Kratom Extract

10X? 15X 50X? Who can tell?

Along these same lines, don’t necessarily trust the X value for the extract.  It is very easy to fudge and it is quite likely that some unethical vendors do so as a higher ‘X’ will command higher price (if 10x is good just imagine 500x!). Could you look at a pile of dark powder and determine if it is 10x or 30x kratom extract? Maybe you could, but I know I couldn’t. Because of the ease of inflating concentration values along with their lack of meaning in the first place, you should also be wary of extracts that claim to have excessively high X concentration values particularly when those values go above 50x and into the 100’s.   Another thing to look out for is for vendors that advertise the ‘X’ value of their kratom extract as being x times as potent.  As we looked at earlier, the ‘X’ value refers to the amount of material used, not its activity.  If a vendor is claiming otherwise, at best they are misinformed, and at worst they are being deceptive. In both those cases, the buyer should beware.

So, if you can’t compare extracts based on their ‘X’ value and you can’t compare extracts across vendors, what can you do?  There is one thing you can do.  The number one rule when buying a kratom extract from any vendor (or plain leaf kratom for that matter), to only purchase a very small amount at first. Make sure the quality is what you expect before spending significant amounts of money on a new product.

 

What is Kratom Extract?

What is Kratom Extract?

Kratom typically comes in one of three forms:  as crushed kratom leaf, as powdered kratom leaf, or as a kratom extract.  While most kratom and herbal enthusiasts have a good idea about what crushed and powdered kratom is, many are not as clear about kratom extracts.  This can be due to inexperience with plant extracts, confusing vendor marketing, or a variety of other reasons.  We hope that after reading  this article series, you will be better understand what is kratom extract, how it differs from plain leaf kratom, as well as learn some tips for when shopping for kratom extracts.

A Soxhlet Extractor Extracting Fruit Wikipedia)

A Soxhlet Extractor Extracting Fruit (Wikipedia)

Plant extracts, of which kratom extracts are only one type, are concentrated forms of that plant in which certain beneficial parts of the plant, called alkaloids, are collected and other unwanted parts of the plant are removed.  The process of collecting these alkaloids and removing the filler is called an extraction.  The end result of the extraction process, the collection of alkaloids, is called an extract.  While this may sound technical, in reality, many of us perform and use extractions everyday without knowing it.  One well known example would be brewing coffee.  Coffee drinkers use hot water to extract one of the most famous alkaloids, caffeine, from the coffee bean grounds while leaving the coffee bean husks behind.  To a certain degree, all plant extracts are similar to this.  They collect certain plant parts (alkaloids like caffeine) by removing the fiber and other filler material from the plant using some sort of extraction medium. In the case of coffee, the extraction medium is water, in other cases is can be alcohol, or even something more exotic like acetic acid (vinegar).

Extracts are everywhere: Coffee Filter

Extracts are everywhere: Coffee Filter

When creating a kratom extract, the alkaloids within the kratom leaf are collected and the leaf fiber is removed.  There have been over 25 alkaloids identified in kratom and those alkaloids make up 0.5% of the leaf weight. The other 99.5% of the weight is made up of filler material (fiber, water, etc). To give you an idea of how much material is collected and how much in thrown away in a kratom extraction, picture this:  If you were to have 1 ton (2,000 lbs) of kratom leaf and perfectly extracted all the kratom alkaloids out of it, you would be left with around 10 lbs of kratom extract when done.  As you can see, extractions can be very effective in collecting the chemical ‘essence’ of the plant into a much more concentrated form.

Kratom Extract

Kratom Extract

While the kratom leaf has many alkaloids of interest to the herbal or kratom enthusiast, there are a two that are particularly interesting.  The first, found only in the kratom tree,  is called mitragynine.  Approximately half of all the alkaloids in kratom is mitragynine.  So, if we looked at the 10 lbs of kratom extract we created from the 2000lbs of kratom leaf, around 5 lbs of it would be mitragynine. Out of all the 25 of the kratom alkaloids, mitragynine has had the most study as it was long believed to be the primary active alkaloid in kratom.  This study has shown that mitragynine has a novel effect of producing stimulation in small amounts while producing sedating effects at larger amounts [6].  While mitragynine was thought to be the most active alkaloid in kratom, more recent research has shown that a large part of its activity is instead likely to originate from the alkaloid called 7-hydroxymitragynine.  7-hydroxymitragynine, accounts for around 2% of the total alkaloid content in plain leaf ( or 0.2 lbs of our 10 lbs of hypothetical kratom extract).  Studies have shown the this alkaloid is around forty-six times more active the mitragynine and seventeen more times active than morphine. Needless to say, this potent alkaloid has a significant effect on the overall make-up of kratom.   This collection of alkaloids, in differing amounts and with differing effects are what make up kratom extracts.

So, now that you know what is kratom extract and how it and other plant extracts such as kava extract are made, we hope you will continue on to the next kratom extract article which will discuss in detail: types of kratom extracts, tips and things to look for and avoid when out to buy kratom extract and finally, we will wrap up with an article on how to make your own kratom extract. Stay tuned!

The Naming of Kratom Strains

When you a looking to buy kratom, all the different varieties of kratom available can often make it difficult to know exactly what you are purchasing.  Despite all the differences in kratom names, strains, and marketing lingo, most reputable vendors actually use a standard naming convention for most of their kratom to make it easier to know what you are buying and from where.  This naming convention consists of three things:

  1. The country where the tree is from
  2. The region in that country where it was picked
  3. The color of veins in the leaf

When identifying the country where the kratom tree came from, you will almost always find that it comes from one of the three major countries where kratom grows natively: Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.  When a strain is called an Indonesian kratom or indo kratom, for example, that means it came from kratom trees somewhere in Indonesia.  As these countries are large places and there may be many locations there where kratom grows naturally, strains names often include the particular region within that country where the leaves were picked.

Kratom is from Southeast Asia

Indonesian Sumatra kratom, for example, comes from the Sumatra island region of western Indonesia. Indonesian Borneo kratom on the other hand, comes from the central region (of Indonesia which unsurprisingly happens to be named Borneo.  Naming the kratom in such a precise manner may seem nit-picky, but there is a method to this madness. The region where the trees come from is important in identifying the different kratom strains because of variations in the alkaloid profile that result from the different soil conditions and weather patterns in each region.  For example, Thai kratom may grow in exceptionally sunny or wet climate when compared to some Malaysian kratom.  These small differences in growing condition can lead to large differences in leaves themselves.

The last piece of the kratom naming puzzle is the make-up of the leaves themselves.  In many cases, the names of a particular strain indicates the color of veins within the kratom leaf.   Some sources only differentiate between red vein kratom and green vein kratom. Others identify red, green, and white vein kratom. Frequently, green and white vein is used interchangeably.  Native users tend to use the vein color as the most important distinguishing factor between types of kratom (perhaps because they typically only have access to kratom within a single geographic region).  Thai users for example, distinguish between red vein kratom and green vein kratom and prefer a mix of the two.

Red Vein Kratom Leaf

Bringing all elements of the kratom naming system together we can examine the naming of several strains.  Using this system, we can determine that White Vein Sumatra, is an Indonesian kratom leaf gathered from the Sumatra island of Indonesia and from trees that have white veined leaves. Paupa Red Reserve kratom, on the other hand, is a red vein kratom that comes from Paupa New Guinea.

While many strains use all three identifiers in their name, some do not  Red Vein Thai and Green Malaysian are examples of this.  Thai and Malaysian strains frequently do not indicate from exactly where in those countries they come from.  This is because, due to export restrictions in those countries, a significant amount of Thai and Malaysian kratom actually comes from Malaysian and Thai kratom trees transplanted and grown in Indonesia.  Because of this, the exact location in Thailand or Malaysia is often not included in the name.

While not all kratom strains follow this pattern, more do so than do not, and the best kratom vendors will have most of their products named in a clear manner such as this. When looking to buy kratom online or offline, there are a couple of naming warning signs you can use to identify products that may be marketed unethically, deceptively, or unprofessionally.   One thing to look out for is kratom that only uses marketing terms in the name (e.g. Super kratom, White label kratom, etc).  It very likely that the ‘Super kratom’ is whatever kratom that vendor found to be the cheapest that day.  Another thing to look out for when looking for places to buy kratom online is kratom that is given a ‘brand’ name.’  For example, It is a safe bet that something called ‘Krazy Karl’s Kratom’ is meant for customers that don’t care a great deal about knowing what they are actually buying but are instead manipulated by fancy packaging or slick branding.

We hope that by being able to identify what you are buying and knowing what might not be the best idea to buy, you make sure you can find they best type of kratom for you while maintaining a level of consistency from order to order.

 

What is Kratom?

If you have come to this page then you have likely been hearing about a plant called Kratom and are curious to find out more. If so, you have come to the right place! The goal of this site is to provide a comprehensive resource where you can learn: What is Kratom?
Blooming Kratom Tree
A Kratom Tree

Kratom, known to the scientifically minded by its Latin name, Mitragyna speciosa,  is a moderately tall tree (12 to 50ft) distantly related to the coffee and yhombie tree.  Kratom trees grow in tropical and sub-tropical areas of Southeast Asia, primarily in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.   Although known by a small number of biologists and botanists in the western world since the 1800’s, kratom’s exposure to the rest of the world has been limited until recently.  In the last decade, however, an increasing number of researchers and herbal enthusiasts have gained access to this amazing plant, and as a result, our knowledge of it has increased greatly. Now the rest of the world is beginning to learn what Asia has known for centuries: that kratom is a truly unique plant like no other in the world.

Kratom leaf (Wikipedia)

While Kratom is a tree, when most people speak of it, they are usually referring to the trees’ leaves.  These deep green leaves, around 7 inches long and 4 inches wide, are continuously shed by the tree throughout the year.  These leaves or those that have been picked from the tree have been a part of the culture of Thailand and Malaysia for hundreds of years if not longer.   Kratom’s pervasiveness in Thai culture is such that In some regions, 70% of the population has been estimated to use the plant daily [5].

Many laborers and farmers in Thailand will chew fresh leaves as a way to enhance their productivity, work longer, and work harder while maintaining a positive mindset [1].  Thai folk medicine would prescribe kratom as a remedy for gastro-intestinal distress, diarrhea, and congestion [1, 5]. In addition, as early as 1897, kratom was proposed as a potential opium substitute by H. Ridley [2].   More recently, Dr. Mustafa Ali Mohd of Universiti Malaya has suggested kratom as a safer, less addictive and less toxic alternative to methodone [3].

Powdered Kratom Leaves

Thai kratom users most often prefer to chew fresh kratom leaves.   While fresh leaves are most common, Thai users will also ingest powdered kratom, chased by a hot drink such as coffee [1].  Many Thai users will also boil a kratom and water mixture down into a resin which is then mixed with flower and balled-up until ingested. In Malaysia, where it is called ketum, it is most frequently boiled in water to make kratom tea, cooled, and then sold from roadside stands.  Though significantly less common, Malaysian papers describe accounts where Malaysian kratom users roll crushed kratom in tobacco and smoke it or where is is mixed with lime and other plants and chewed like a betel nut [4].

When ingested in this manner it is believed that kratom has two somewhat contradictory effects.  It has been found that the effect of kratom  depend on the amount of kratom the subjects ingested, with smaller amounts resulting in  a stimulating effect like caffeine, and larger amounts resulting in a sedating effect like an opiate [5].   Kratom has been found to contain over 25 different chemicals (called alkaloids) that create this effect.  Of these alkaloids mitragynine is thought to contribute to the stimulating effects of kratom while  7-hydroxmitragine is believed to be the primary alkaloid responsible for the sedating effects [5].  Like most plants, however, all the alkaloids are thought to contribute in their own way.

Despite the beneficial effects reported by Thai kratom users, some negative side effects have also been reported. It is thought that regular, prolonged use can lead to mild dependence.  The symptoms from cessation were reported to include mild joint pain and insomnia but appear to be quite weak, particularly when compared to opium dependence.  These symptoms have been described by those who have experienced opium dependence as: ” ‘annoying’ or ‘distracting’ rather than painful or debilitating”  [5].

Despite all that has been learned in recent years about kratom, its pharmacological make-up, and its traditional use in south-eastern Asian culture, much remains to be discovered.  As interest and awareness of this plant grows in the western world, we hope that the responsible study of its history and its potential to benefit our society continues.  We hope that now you know the basics about what is kratom you will use this site and the references to this article to continue your own study of this fascinating plant.

 

February 27, 2012Permalink Leave a comment