When a discussion about the alkaloids in kratom gets broached, one regularly hears about the two primary alkaloids found in kratom. And those two compounds are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Yet, nobody speaks about the other molecular structures that are present in the plant. And it’s a shame that nobody does. There are over 40 additional alkaloids inside kratom to choose from for a discussion. Each one of them is just as fascinating as the last. Plus, they all perform specific biological functions within our bodies. But there are too many of the alkaloids found in kratom to include them all in the limited space I have available. So we only have time to talk about one of them in detail. In that case, we’ll go over one of the molecular compounds that the scientific community has used in several experiments recently. And that compound is called mitraphylline.
Mitraphylline itself is a pentacyclic oxindole alkaloid. However, the concentration of the alkaloid found in kratom is limited to very minute amounts. In fact, the chemical composition of the compound in kratom totals less than 1% of all the alkaloid content added together. But don’t let its quantity in the plant fool you. The compound still plays a significant role in biological and chemical activity in known scientific experiments, which we’ll discuss more thoroughly in a bit. But first, I should give you more information about another plant that carries a higher concentration of the alkaloid. And that plant is related to kratom.
A Plant with High Concentrations of Mitraphylline
The kratom plant contains only a limited quantity of mitraphylline. When inspecting the chemical compositions of Mitragyna speciosa, only trace amounts of mitraphylline show up in the plant. However, other plants have more. So every study that researches the benefits of the molecular compound uses a different plant to extract mitraphylline. Nevertheless, that plant is also part of the Rubiaceae family. And its scientific name is Uncaria tomentosa. But most people know it by its common name: cat’s claw. Cat’s claw got its name from the thorns it produces, which look like the claws of a cat.
Cat’s claw is a woody vine that can grow up to 100 feet long. And it’s found in the rainforests of the Amazon. But you can also find the vine growing in tropical forests located in parts of Central and South America. There are different varieties of cat’s claw, but Uncaria tomentosa has the highest count of mitraphylline out of them all.
On the internet, you can see the supplement promoted as a treatment for various ailments. You can read claims it treats Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, gastritis, inflammation, ulcers, cancer, and other conditions. But at this time, the supplement has not been FDA approved to treat any diseases or medical issues. Even so, people have used cat’s claw for thousands of years as a folk remedy to treat numerous afflictions. But no proof existed to back those assertions. So recently, several scientific experiments tried to determine the role of mitraphylline in those claims.
The Antiproliferative Effects of Mitraphylline
As the number of projected cancer cases continues to rise in the world, doctors continually seek new forms of treatments to assist them in the medical field. In areas of South America, the sick use Uncaria tomentosa (cat’s claw) as a traditional medicine for tumorous conditions. Yet, no scientific data existed to determine if the plant had anti-cancerous properties. So, a few scientists performed a study on mitraphylline to determine if the molecule could thwart cancerous cellular growth.
Scientists isolated mitraphylline from the bark of cat’s claw. Then they tested the antiproliferative (inhibiting the cell growth of tumor cells) and cytotoxic (toxicity to tumor cells) effects of the compound against cell lines from Ewings’ sarcoma and breast cancer. And in both instances, mitraphylline inhibited the growth of both cancerous cell lines in a dose-dependent manner. The results indicate the alkaloid might be a new promising treatment for bone and breast cancer.
There were other studies about the antiproliferative effects of mitraphylline on other cancers, too. One experiment investigated the growth-inhibitory properties and cytotoxic effects on two additional types of tumors. One cell line belonged to gliomas, which is a tumor that attacks the central nervous system: the brain and spinal cord. The other cell line was from neuroblastoma. Micromolar concentrations of the alkaloid inhibited the growth of each of the cancerous cell lines.
Other studies suggest mitraphylline has antiproliferative effects on several types of cancer. But the scientific community needs more research to confirm its potential for any cancer treatment.
Anti-Inflammatory Activity of the Alkaloid
According to scientific research performed on mitraphylline, the alkaloid appears to produce anti-inflammatory activity as well. The scientists gave mice mitraphylline once a day for three days straight. Afterward, they infected the mice with gram-negative bacteria. That type of bacteria has an outer membrane that contains a layer of fatty sugars called lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Microbial compounds elicit a response from the host. The innate immune response to the pathogens is a combination of chemical and cellular defensive activities produced by the body that the bacteria are invading. However, the destruction of the bacteria by antibiotics or an immune system can wind up releasing endotoxins. Those endotoxins in the body leave it prone to acute nonspecific inflammation. And the scientific study wanted to determine how mitraphylline would affect that inflammatory response.
The LPS endotoxins introduced into the bloodstream of the mice motivated the secretion of cytokines through the animals’ cells. Cytokines are regulatory proteins that aid cell to cell communication regarding immunity, hematopoiesis, and inflammation. And the results of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) multiplex determined 16 different cytokines were present in the mice as a result. But giving the mice mitraphylline inhibited the release of various interleukins: a group of cytokines that are particularly important in stimulating inflammation in subjects.
The reduction of interleukins in the test mice given mitraphylline showed a decrease of close to 50%. The amazing thing was the results were on par with the control group of mice given dexamethasone: a steroid prescribed for treating inflammation.
It Doesn’t Mean Kratom Cures Cancer
While kratom does contain this fascinating alkaloid, you need to understand that not much of the compound is present in kratom products. Less than 1% of the entire alkaloid content in kratom consists of this molecule. So even though certain studies suggest that mitraphylline shows potential against certain medical conditions, one should never argue that drinking kratom products would have the same effect. That’s just ludicrous. First off, all of the scientific studies that suggest mitraphylline has properties that fight against specific ailments like cancer and inflammation need further research to back the claims. Secondly, even if it gets proven as a fact, the small quantity of that particular alkaloid found in kratom wouldn’t have any biological effect on severe health issues of people that consume kratom. They’d need high doses of the compound. Thirdly, kratom products are not FDA-approved, so medical claims about the substance are strictly forbidden.
The restrictions against making unfounded kratom claims are also in place for other plant-based scientific revelations. They follow the same guidelines. Blueberries have phytochemicals and molecular compounds that show potential for anti-cancerous effects in laboratory settings, too. But claiming eating blueberries cures cancer is an entirely different argument. So the same thing goes for kratom consumption. Besides, ingesting kratom products places the phenomenal alkaloid in your diet. And we could all us the increased antioxidant activity in our systems. So there’s nothing wrong with that. Still, learning about the possible medical applications of the alkaloids found in kratom is always fascinating.