The differences in Alkaloid Profiles among leaves of varying maturity, season and geography: Drying methods differ by season and availability of dry weather, which in turn could affect the levels of oxidation which could determine the ratio of Mg to 7hmg, and the presence of other easily destroyed alkaloids, which could affect the alkaloid profile.
Since the 1960s, 25 alkaloids were isolated and chemically characterized from M. speciosa. The alkaloid content varies according to geographical region and season. The alkaloid profile of M. speciosa is summarized in Table 1. The main indole alkaloids present in
the young leaves of M. speciosa are mitragynine and its analogues,
speciogynine, paynantheine and speciociliatine. In addition, a new
alkaloid, 7-hydroxy-7H-mitragyine (7-hydroxymitragynine; 7-
HMG) was isolatedas aminor constituent(Fig. 2; Seatonet al., 1960;
Beckett et al., 1965b, 1969; Lee et al., 1967; Shellard et al., 1978a,
1978b; Ponglux et al., 1994; Leon et al., 2009; Orio et al., 2012).
These alkaloids were also found in the methanolic extract of the
mature leaves together with mitragynaline, pinoresinol, mitralactonal,
mitrasulgynine and 3,4,5,6-tetradehydromitragynine as
minor constituents (Takayama et al., 1998). In the ethyl acetate
extract, nine corynanthe-type indole alkaloids were isolated
namely, mitragynine, speciogynine, speciociliatine, paynantheine,
7-HMG, mitragynaline, corynantheidaline, corynantheidine and
isocorynoxeine, whereas 9-methoxymitralactonine and mitralactonine
were obtained as minor constituents (Takayama, 2004).
Investigation of Malaysian M. speciosa found new types of alkaloids
namely mitragynaline, corynantheidaline, mitragynalinic acid
and corynantheidalinic acid (Houghton et al., 1991). The total
alkaloid content from the leaves varies from 0.5% to 1.5%. An
additional indole alkaloid found in the fruits of M. speciosa is
7-hydroxyspeciociliatine (Kitajima et al., 2007). Microbial transformation
of the leaves was shown to yield two major metabolites:
mitragynine pseudoindoxyl and hydroxyl mitragynine pseudoindoxyl
(Zarembo et al., 1974).
Mitragynine is, with 66% of the total alkaloid mixture, the most
abundant active alkaloid derived from the leaves of M. speciosa
(Shellard, 1974, 1989; Shellard et al., 1978a, 1978b; Jansen and
Prast, 1988a; Takayama et al., 1998; Chittrakarn et al., 2008). It
was first isolated by Hooper (1907) and again by Field (1921)
and Ing and Raison (1939). Field (1921) isolated two new alkaloids
from Mitragyna species: mitragynine (from M. speciosa) and
mitraversine (from M. parvifolia). Mitragynine was assumed to be
a physiologically active constituent having morphine-like properties.
However, it should be noted that it may not be the most
potent psychoactive component. In particular over more chronic utilization this may be the less abundant 7-HMG (Horie et al., 2005;
Matsumoto et al., 2005a; 2008). The structure of mitragynine was
first fully determined in 1965 by Zacharias et al. (1965) through Xray
crystallography. A computational study recently identified the
lowest energy conformation of mitragynine, which was in excellent
agreement with X-ray crystal structure geometry (Liu et al.,
2010). The first synthesis of mitragynine was reported by Takayama
et al. (1995). Alternative synthesis ways were reported later by Ma
et al. (2009). The molecular structures of M. speciosa alkaloids were
found to be either indoles with a methoxy group in the C19 position
and an open E ring with substitution occurring at the C9 position,
or oxindoles without substitution in the C9 position and having a
closed E ring (Fig. 2; Seaton et al., 1958; Beckett et al., 1966; Shellard
and Philipson, 1966). Most of the alkaloids in M. speciosa have similarities
to yohimbe and Uncaria alkaloids (Matsumoto et al., 2004).
Mitragynine is a white amorphous powder. It is soluble in alcohol,
chloroform and acetic acid.
"...Vicknasingam and colleagues performed a survey of current M. speciosa use in 136 active users in northern Malaysia. They found that M. speciosa (Ketum) users were relatively older (mean 38.7 years). About 77% of the users had previous drug use history. Long-term consumers with more than 2 years of use had higher odds of being married, of consuming more than the average three glasses of Ketum a day and reporting better appetite. Short-term users (<2 years of use) had higher odds of having ever used heroin, testing positive for heroin in a urine sample and of using Ketum to reduce addiction to other drugs. Both, short- and long-term consumers reported that they used Ketum in order to reduce their intake of more expensive opiates, to manage withdrawal symptoms and because it was cheaper than heroin. Only very few consumers (5.6–12.5%) report ‘euphoria induction’ as a reason to use Ketum. Drugs can be consumed in order to instrumentalize their psychoactive effects to better achieve other, non-drug related goals (Müller and Schumann, 2011). Ketum users report as major self-perceived benefits of their drug use that the drug ‘helps to work harder’ (76.6–87.5%), that it ‘makes more active’ (76.6–86.1%), it ‘increases sexual desire’ (73.4–84.7%), and an increase in appetite (57.8–77.8%). Interestingly, self-perceived use was higher in short-term than in long term users, thus suggesting a loss or reduction of the self-perceived instrumentalization. These findings differ from those in neighbouring Thailand where Ketum was used primarily to increase physical endurance. "
Differentiating the strains even further, very young leaves, were found to have 4 of the same alkaloids found in mature leaf. This could explain why "white vein" might be considered to have a different effect. Unfortunately, the differences in genetics were not documented, which means the differences in the alkaloid profiles may be caused by the genetic differences vs the differences in geographical agricultural conditions. There could also be cultural differences in how they cure their leaf.
The malaysians report effects quite differently and use it for correspondingly different purposes. The review indicates that there might actually be 3 strains. Thai, Malaysian, and the other, which all appear to be quite different in alkaloid content.