When it comes to plants popularly used for health reasons, kratom has been at the front of the line with increasingly popular compounds like Cannabidiol (CBD). With each day that passes, a growing number of people are finding out about the benefits of these all-natural compounds. However, consumers are wise to do their due diligence in researching these products before experimenting, even if they come from plants.
One of the compounds that seems to be discussed more and more online is akuamma powder. Surprisingly, it is even starting to be grouped in the same category as kratom in terms of its effects and benefits. A quick search on Reddit reveals that many users are alternating kratom and akuamma for pain relief purposes.
So, what is akuamma? From where does it originate what should someone expect from it as a first time user? Can it serve as an alternative to kratom?
As you are probably already aware, the kratom tree (Mitragyna speciosa) comes from Southeast Asia where it grows in the wild. It is a tropical evergreen tree that is in the same family, Rubiaceae, as coffee and it can grow to over 75 feet in height.
On the other hand, the akuamma plant (Picralima nitida) comes from tropical African locations like Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, and others. Instead of the leaf, the seeds of the plant are what’s coveted by those looking for botanical solutions.
In their dried form they are used throughout West Africa and have been a part of traditional medicine in the region for generations. Typically, akuamma seeds have been used as therapy for numerous afflictions including:
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Though the average height of an akuamma tree is around 10-15 feet, they can grow to heights of over 75 feet. They grow more like shrubs than trees and are usually found near sources of water like streams and rivers at elevations up to 900 meters.
Like kratom, akuamma produces flowers, but the two differ in that the latter produces seed-bearing fruits at different stages throughout its existence. Blossoms and fruits have their uses, but again it is the seeds that host the greater concentrations of alkaloids. In comparison, the benefits of the kratom tree are associated with the leaf specifically. Akuamma is used orally for most purposes but it is also used topically in traditional African medicine.
The akuamma tree boasts large fruit that begin a dark green color and then mature to yellow to orange shades as time goes on. When an akuamma fruit matures, it looks a lot like a coconut. However, unlike a coconut, opening up a ripe akuamma fruit reveals a vessel packed with what almost looks like pumpkin seeds.
While various other components of the akuamma tree are used for numerous purposes, some not involving consumption, the powder created by grinding up dried out akuamma seeds is by far the most common use. This resulting powder is bitter with some users reporting it to be the worst taste they have ever experienced. For this reason, capsules are a popular way to consume this botanical.
The primary alkaloid, or plant chemical, found in akuamma seed powder is called akuammine. In many ways it is similar to yohimbine, an alkaloid derived from the bark of another African tree, Pausinystalia johimbe. It was once found to be present in concentrations of roughly 0.5% in dried seeds.
It also shares a lot of characteristics with kratom’s most well-known alkaloid, mitragynine, especially in its actions at some of the body’s opioid receptors. Unlike kratom, it acts as a partial agonist at the kappa opioid receptors and is also effective to a degree at adrenergic receptors. It is said that akuammine has anesthetic properties that rival that of cocaine.
Comparative, fallen leaves from the kratom tree include many alkaloids with various potential benefits. The two most commonly discussed are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These alkaloids are found in varying concentrations in mature kratom leaves.
Mitragynine is present in concentrations of about 2% while 7-hydroxymitragynine concentration is usually measured in hundreds of a percentage point. In fact, some kratom leaves have no detectable 7-OH-mitragynine at the time of harvest. Its presence is highly dependent on oxidation that occurs afterwards.
Along the same lines as kratom, the effects of akuamma are very subjective. Most users report relief from pain. Others report having more motivation to get things accomplished or a more content frame of mind.
These results are often intensified with increased dosage, but this also compounds the risk of unpleasant side effects such as nausea and vomiting. In this way it is much like kratom. Akuamma is commonly used as an alternative to kratom when local laws prohibit access to the latter, though it does not have the same level of opioid receptor affinity.
There is no determinate dosage for akuamma, but various reports around the internet involve anywhere from 500 mg to more than 6 g per serving. The most commonly cited average dose is 2-4 grams but it is generally smart to start with even less to assess tolerance and mitigate any potential side effects. There are no readily-available reports of major negative medical events associated with the consumption of akuamma.
Akuamma and kratom share in their ability to affect some of the body’s opioid receptors. These actions are responsible for the pain relief associated with the two botanicals. Akuamma is sometimes used as an alternative to kratom when there are access problems or by those who want to avoid building tolerance to either of the two, though kratom is stronger according to user reports. Time will tell if akuamma will ever catch on as a viable substitute and whether the FDA will begin targeting it as it grows in popularity.
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