The problem with some of the reports that exist about kratom is that they pick and choose which facts they want to present to the audience. While some of the facts might be truthful, they’re introduced outside of the needed context for the reader to understand the significance of the material that’s placed before them. And I’ve seen this strategy used by many people who oppose the kratom plant. They easily throw stats that support their agenda into an argument without providing the proper context to go along with it.
For example, I’ve read many articles where kratom critics point to the fact that scientific research states that kratom is much stronger than morphine (17 times stronger, to be exact). And as such, kratom should definitely be placed on a government-controlled and scheduled list where morphine already exists. Yet, while that number is an accurate stat that was pulled and supported by the study where it was listed, there’s still more to that information not addressed when broaching the subject. For one, it’s a single study that was performed back in 2005. More scientific experiments should be performed to see if other studies support such a conclusion.
Nevertheless, today, we’ll be covering an in-depth review of the claim and put it in perspective. Even though some articles reference the fact that the potency of 7-hydroxymitragynine, one of the primary alkaloids found inside kratom, was found to be 17-times the strength of morphine in one experiment, there’s more to that story.
One Specific Test Doesn’t Give All the Answers
Looking at the study where this data comes from shows the scientists are using twitch contractions that are induced by electrical stimulation inside the last part of a guinea pig’s small intestines to get the results. And with that study, 17 times less of the alkaloid 7-hydroxymitragynine was needed to provide the same response of its morphine counterpart, which indicates it’s 17 times stronger. But does that mean it’s 17 times more potent across the board?
Well, we would need the results of more tests to compare. But since the experiments performed on kratom do not have the funding that’s given to pharmaceutical drugs, then the number of reports we have to pull from is limited. But when we dig deep enough, we find similar experiments to look at.
In another test, scientists compared the reaction of 7-hydroxymitragynine on mice to their response to morphine. The study used two different tests on rodents. One was the tail-flick test. The other was the hot-plate test. And both of those results provided data that the kratom alkaloid was stronger than morphine, too. But neither test proved it was 17 times stronger. In fact, neither test even reached the double-digit territory.
The tail-flick test showed 7-hydroxymitragynine to be only 5.7 times stronger. But the hot-plate test data suggested it was only 4.4 times the strength. So, you can see, none of the tests are accurate because the alkaloids are not from the same botanical family. Their effects will be different as a result.
More Potent but Less Product
But we’ll use the argument 7-hydroxymitragynine is 17 times stronger than morphine for the rest of the article since the opposition loves to quote it—even though it’s inaccurate. Besides comparing different alkaloid compounds altogether, they also leave out valuable information that should be addressed to the audience along with the data they use. When those stats are presented to the reader, a different story starts to emerge. Then the illusion of the potency claim fades away.
I’ll explain it. Since kratom is a natural plant product—kratom is created by grinding the leaf matter into a fine powder, then it would only be apt to compare it to the raw opium latex that nature provides through opium poppies to get an accurate representation of the potency claims, showing what it means for someone who uses kratom.
When raw processed opium is produced, the morphine alkaloid constitutes anywhere from 10-20% of the entire weight of the opium product. That’s quite a lot of morphine found inside opium.
However, the total alkaloid concentration in dried kratom leaves is only around 0.5-1.5%. Most of those alkaloids that are present are the mitragynine compound: taking up close to 60% of all the alkaloids. As for the alkaloid in question, 7-hydroxymitragynine, it only constitutes about 0.10-0.3% of the entire amount the alkaloids. And that means 7-hydroxymitragynine constitutes anywhere from 0.01-0.001% of the entire weight of kratom powder. When you look at it from that perspective, 17 times the strength doesn’t have the same impact.
Correlating Addictive Properties is Nonsense
One of the main points that kratom opponents use for their arguments is that since 7-hydroxymitragynine was shown to be 17 times more potent than morphine, it means the addictive nature of kratom products is easily 17 times as much, too. But that claim is not scientifically sound. A drug’s potency and its addictive properties are not synonymous. They have never been. The only reason why opiates show a correlation between the two terms is due to the fact they’re all derived from the same plant materials. But kratom and its compounds are not opiates. None of the alkaloids found inside Papaver somniferum are found inside Mitragyna speciosa. So the molecules are like comparing apples and oranges. Juxtaposing the two plant’s molecules together like they belong to the same family is disingenuous.
Other scientific studies have been performed to look at the addictive properties of the alkaloids in kratom. And when we take a look at the evidence supplied, an experiment that was administered to rats in 2018 showed that alkaloids found in kratom have less addictive nature than opiates. For example, mitragynine had an affinity for the mu-opioid receptor found in the brain that was 200 times less than that of morphine. So the alkaloids found inside kratom are not akin to those found inside opium poppies at all when we look at some of the compounds habit-forming potential—it’s almost nonexistent when you compare them together. Instead of equating kratom to opiates, let science show the unbiased data.
Evidence Provided out of Context is Dishonest
There isn’t much scientific information to pull from whenever it comes to writing about kratom, which is why some articles quote stats from past research and supply it out of context. Then the information within the articles doesn’t get addressed properly. Kratom is a legal substance that can rock the profit margins away from the pharmaceutical industry. Naysayers—and those funded by Big Pharma—will easily attach their reports to any negative material without thoroughly explaining everything that needs to be heard, trying to misinform the viewer.
But, the same can be said from both sides of the argument. There are just as many times when I’ve witnessed pro-kratom pieces that only sheds light on a particular portion of a new experiment when it’s released. As kratom advocates, we have to do better. There will always be certain discoveries about the plant that might not be all glitz and glamour, allowing us to witness the possible risks linked to the leaf. Hell, even caffeine and sugar have unwanted side-effects that are attached to the use of both substances. There’s always a downside to everything.
So we have to make sure we’re not only vigilant against the opposition for not presenting the full story, but we must also make sure that we’re living up to those standards ourselves. Kratom is meant for adults. And adults can make the right choices with their lives as long as they know the truth surrounding those choices—despite what the government wants you to think.