Kratom Strains: The Many Faces
A Short History of the Kratom Tree
The rainforest jungles of Southeast Asia and parts of Africa house an amazingly beneficial plant by the name of kratom (also known colloquially as thang, biak, ketom, thom, and/or kauam). Sometimes referred to by its scientific name, Mitragyna speciosa (M. speciosa), kratom belongs to the Rubiaceae (coffee) family (Stolt et al. 2014) and is becoming increasingly popular as more people wish to forego the problems associated with the US healthcare system..
The various routes of administration of kratom include oral, which is often done using either powder (crumbles) or capsule forms of pure kratom leaf. Some prefer to brew it into a kratom leaf tea mixed with tasty liquids to help conceal its taste, while others enjoy its taste and directly swallow down the powder with a chaser. The native people of Southeast Asia have a lengthy history of chewing fresh leafs. This, both theoretically and anecdotally, results in greater potency by weight due to the sublingual absorption of the base alkaloids.
A debate continues regarding the efficacy or smoking kratom leaves, with most users recommending against it. It is perhaps possible to vaporize mitragynine as this would require temperatures somewhere within the 347 – 392°F range (Ulbricht et al., 2013) – well within the reach of a standard lighter. However, this would necessitate isolation and extraction of this alkaloid because kratom’s leaves contain tar, and we have learned from cigarettes how destructive tar can be.
The three most popular types of kratom are referred to by the color of the individual leafs’ stems and veins: red vein, white vein, and green vein. Yellow and gold vein kratom have become relatively popular in recent history as well.
Red vein kratom is purported to be less stimulating than other colors with greater analgesic potential. Green vein kratom is said to be relaxing and uplifting with anxiolytic properties. White vein kratom is said to be the most stimulating of the three major vein colors and some say it is the best kratom for euphoria.
The general properties of red, green, and white strains are the same for any strain, though individual strains exhibit their own unique effects. This is attributed to the sometimes vast differences in alkaloid spectrum composition among different strains.
Mitragyna speciosa’s Most Popular Strains
Kratom comes in a multitude of different versions, most of which are named after their native regions. Each kratom strain is attributed with its own diverse strengths and effects based on variances in the climate and environment in which it’s grown.
There is evidence to suggest that the differences between strains are due to distinct contrasts in composition of indole alkaloids, the most popular of which are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine (Mudge & Brown, 2018). These are the semi-psychoactive substances primarily responsible for the partial mu-opioid agonistic properties of the plant (Harun, Hassan, Navaratnam, Mansor, & Shoaib, 2015). Let’s have a look at some of the most common forms of kratom available today.
Maeng Da Kratom
Arguably the most popular strain available and the one with the richest history, Maeng Da is produced through a selective pollination process called grafting. With grafting, botanists are able to isolate individual target characteristics of different strains and combine them in an offspring plant. Legend has it that Maeng Da was produced to meet laborers’ demands as they worked long, strenuous hours in the hot, humid Indonesian climate.
The benefits of all Maeng Da kratom sorts may include liberation from mild to moderate pain and euphoria due to extraordinary levels of mitragynine and 7-OH-mitragynine. This strain’s subjective effects on focus and energy make it worth consideration for those taking on mental or repetitive work. Some of our customers who are under the distress of moderate chronic pain have used Maeng Da to get off of their prescription drugs, because for them it provides relief without the harmful side effects and accompanying dependence opioid medications are known for.
The over-saturation of the supplier market has caused some to indiscriminately label random strains as Maeng Da due to its name recognition. However, shoppers requiring an authentic Maeng Da will learn to carefully select their sources. A good supplier will be able to describe the entire process from the tree to your door, including environmental factors and the specific locations of their source trees.
Socratic Solutions only works with those who are well established in the industry with decades of trade experience – these are categorically the most reliable partners.
Bali kratom has become somewhat of a misnomer in present times. Deforestation has taken a major toll on the enormous island, destroying more than 30% of its forests in the past 40 years (Gaveau et al., 2014). Because of this, Bali strains have been introduced to other areas of Malaysia and Indonesia to ensure supply sustainability moving forward. Bali’s major types are as follows:
- Red Bali kratom, which may be suitable for analgesia but lacks much of an anesthetizing impact
- Green Bali, which is said to decrease stress and apprehension and is easy on the gastrointestinal system
- White Bali; the usual preference for appetite control
Some people have reported using Bali to aid in their fat loss goals, as it has been shown to effectively reduce appetite in vivo (Somsmorn Chittrakarn et al., 2018). Red Bali is the best-selling strain here at Socratic Solutions, comprising 29.6% of our 2018 sales. Since Netflix’s addition of the A Leaf of Faith documentary, Red Bali has gained a great deal of notoriety as the most demanded pain-relieving strain and may be a helpful tool for those looking to trade prescription drugs for a natural solution.
Borneo is the most exported kratom in the world as it can flourish in a variety of conditions and climates. As one may infer from the name, this tree is native to Borneo; the third largest island in the world and part of the Greater Sunda archipelago. Borneo kratom has an uncertain future as unsustainable logging practices have resulted in deforestation, reduced carbon retention by remaining trees, and destabilization of soil in some regions.
The user-reported effects of Borneo kratom include:
- Pain reduction
- The ability to treat addictions (Boyer 2008)
- Treating insomnia
The green and red vein varieties are the most prevalent, with the red vein being used mostly for pain relief and green vein for reducing tension and anxiety. Some say that White Borneo may be the best kratom for mood due to its “slow” qualities. A close friend who previously suffered from generalized anxiety disorder even found it to be an effective alternative to prescription sedatives like benzodiazepines, but without the dangerous side-effects.
Thai strains are not often found at the top of best seller lists, but they have achieved a cult-like following from diehards. They are most often used for motivation, confidence, and energy. Thai contains a greater concentration of the potentially stimulating alkaloid, mitragynine, relative to Vietnam varieties, and it may provide users with long-lived mental concentration and stamina.
It Is said that Thai strains began as a tool for Thailand’s manual laborers to achieve greater productivity and to fight off exhaustion. Now that Thailand has removed kratom from its controlled substances roster, Thailand’s kratom farmers should see more opportunities for innovation.
To sum up, anecdotal accounts propose Thai strains are useful for:
- Increased productivity
- Increased levels of energy
- Increased confidence
- Intrinsic motivation
- Mild analgesia
This strain of kratom, on an aggregate level, has an increased concentration of 7-OH-mitragynine but a smaller concentration of mitragynine This may make Indo particularly soothing and another insomnia-fighter, right behind Borneo. It has an extensive history in Asian regions as a treatment for diarrhea, hypertension, and even coughing (Stolt et al., 2014).
The most popular Indo strains and their alleged benefits are:
- Super Indo – provides analgesic effects similar to Bali, but is more energizing
- Red Indo- a potent painkilling, mood boosting, and sedative strain. It stacks very well with White Maeng Da or Yellow Thai
- White Indo – though we have no credible empirical data to share at this time, studies have suggested that White Indo may help with cognition. Plus, there is always the stimulatory aspect that whites are so great at providing.
Overall, the benefits of Indo kratom may include:
- Pain relief
- Relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms
- Mood elevation
This strain of kratom is cultivated in Malaysia, hence the name. Malaysian kratom has advanced to become a popular strain with very unique properties. Malay’s energy boost is reportedly smoother and more stable relative to other strains.
The effects of this type of kratom are dose-dependent, with low doses providing a boost of energy, and high dosage being sedative (Ahmad, 2012). This is pretty typical of most kratom strains, but Malay distinguishes itself with a longer duration of effect. Some typical characteristics associated with Malay kratom are:
- Cognitive benefits
- Useful to help with symptoms of ADHD
- It provides a stable, stimulating effect making it more preferable for people battling anxiety or bipolar disorder.
- Malay plant cells have thicker cellulose walls and are slower to be metabolized in the body (Shellard & Walker, 1969). This results in a longer duration of effect
- Easy on the stomach
Different varieties of Malay kratom include:
- Green Malay, a/k/a Super Green – the most prevalent and powerful owing to its unique alkaloid profile. It is promoted by users for its various effects, such as energy, analgesia, reduced anxiety, concentration, and temperament
- Super Red – the most popular Malay for relief of pain, stress, and anxiety with potentially greater efficacy compared to Super Green.
- White vein Malay – experienced consumers claim this strain yields the most stimulation, focus, and energy of the Malaysians, and is either a good mood booster or relaxation agent depending on dosage.
One can get a bit confused by all of the different strains on the market today. At the bottom of this article you will find a list of every one that we have ever come into contact with. We highly doubt this is an exhaustive list, but perhaps it can give readers some ideas for the future. We do take requests, so feel free to drop us a line anytime.
The important takeaway is that kratom’s effects, irrespective of type, are heavily dependent on the amount used. Smaller amounts may be more stimulating, and large amounts more sedative. Start low to assess individual tolerance – more can always be added later. A little high grade kratom, like the kind we supply every day, really can go a long way.
Now, a list of kratom strains we are aware of in early 2019:
- Maeng Da
- Maeng Da Sulawesi
- Hong Kong
- Kapuas Hulu
- Slippery Rock
What would you like to see in stock next? Feel free to email us and let us know!
Ahmad K, Aziz Z (2012) Mitragyna speciosa use in the northern states of Malaysia: a cross-sectional study. J Ethnopharmacol 141:446–450
Assanangkornchai S, Muekthong A, Sam-Angsri N, Pattanasattayawong U (2007) the use of Mitragynine speciosa (“Krathom”), an addictive plant, in Thailand. Subst Use Misuse 42:2145–2157
Boyer EW, Babu KM, Adkins JE, McCurdy CR, Halpern JH (2008) Self-treatment of opioid withdrawal using kratom (Mitragynia speciosa Korth)
Center for International Forestry Research. (n.d.). Atlas of Deforestation and Industrial Plantations in Borneo. Retrieved April 6, 2019, from https://www.cifor.org/map/atlas/
Gaveau, D. L. A., Sloan, S., Molidena, E., Yaen, H., Sheil, D., Abram, N. K., … Meijaard, E. (2014). Four Decades of Forest Persistence, Clearance and Logging on Borneo. PLOS ONE, 9(7), e101654. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0101654
Harun, N., Hassan, Z., Navaratnam, V., Mansor, S. M., & Shoaib, M. (2015). Discriminative stimulus properties of mitragynine (kratom) in rats. Psychopharmacology, 232(13), 2227–2238. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-015-3866-5
Henningfield JE (2015) Written summary of oral testimony for the State of Wisconsin Controlled Substances Board. http://dsps.wi.gov/Documents/Board%20Services/Agenda%20Materials/Controlled%20Substances/2015/20150814_CSB_Additional_Material.pdf. Accessed 16 Nov 2016
Mudge, E. M., & Brown, P. N. (2018). Determination of Alkaloids in Mitragyna speciosa (kratom) Raw Materials and Dietary Supplements by HPLC-UV: Single-Laboratory Validation, First Action 2017.14. Journal of AOAC International, 101(4), 964–965. https://doi.org/10.5740/jaoacint.18-0026
Shellard, E. j., & Walker, M. d. (1969). The Mitragyna species of Asia. xVI. the morphology and anatomy of the flowers and fruits of Mitragyna speciosa. Planta Medica, (3), 245–260
Smith, K. E., & Lawson, T. (2017). Prevalence and motivations for kratom use in a sample of substance users enrolled in a residential treatment program. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 180, 340–348. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.08.034
Somsmorn Chittrakarn, Nisaudah Radenahmad, Sujitra Kaewsara, Wandee Udomuksorn, Niwat Keawpradub, & Pimpimol Phukpattaranont. (2018). Gastroprotective effects of methanolic extract of kratom leaves on gastric ulcer and reflux esophagitis in rats. Songklanakarin Journal of Science & Technology, 40(2), 258–263.
Stolt, AC., Schröder, H., Neurath, H. et al. Psychopharmacology (2014) 231: 13. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-013-3201-y
Ulbricht, C., Costa, D., Dao, J., Isaac, R., LeBlanc, Y. C., Rhoades, J., & Windsor, R. C. (2013). An Evidence-Based Systematic Review of kratom ( Mitragyna speciosa) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 10(2), 152–170. https://doi.org/10.3109/19390211.2013.793541