Monday, June 26, 2017

Why Kratom is consistently inconsistent from batch to batch: Alkaloid profiles are dependent on the level of oxidation as well as genetics.

Here are some possible explanations as to why your kratom varies so much:

My vendor is a dirtbag and trying to pull a fast one with some cheap kratom he bought off of a street vendor in Pontianak.

My vendor is a large batch importer who got stuck with a giant bad batch, and by the time someone found out, a bunch of it already went out.
My vendor is a small batch importer who, along with his dedicated team of testers personally tests everything before it goes out, but sometimes inadvertently lets bad batches sneak through.

Scientific Explanation:

The chemical composition of the Kratom leaf changes as it turns brown. The sun converts the main alkaloid Mitragynine into 7ohm through oxidation (not produced by the plant). One study rates 7ohm as having an opioid score of 150 as it pertains to analgesia in lab rats. Morphine scored 15 on this same test, and Mitragynine 10. What does this mean? There is a dramatic difference in effect between the 2 main alkaloids in this plant, and by adjusting the amount of oxidation that takes place, one could dramatically change the effect of the plant on lab rats by altering this ratio of 7ohm to the other alkaloids.

Unlike Cannabis, a very complex and well bred plant, who's chemical composition varies drastically according to genetics, the difference between the 2 strains of kratom seems mainly to be how stimulating it is on rats, with noticeable increases in temp and blood pressure present in one (maeng da) but not the other. They both seem to have similar affective aromas besides stimulation, however such as analgesia, muscle relaxation, anti inflammation. Because this ratio of 7ohm to mg is determined by the level of oxidation, it would be safe to say that heavily oxidized leaf would have higher levels of 7ohm and a corresponding reduction in Mg, and lightly oxidized leaf to have a higher Mg to 7ohm ratio. Furthermore, since oxidation in most cases degrades matter, one could also assume that some of the alkaloids are destroyed, as some effects that are present in lightly oxidized leaf seem to disappear in heavily oxidized leaf. Since the alkaloid profile changes with the amount of sun, the complexities and subtle nuances of leaf do indeed exist, but not as a result of a wide array of genetics. They exist mainly because the alkaloid profile changes so quickly from the sun, mainly the creation of 7ohm and the destruction of other alkaloids.

Proposed Theory:
A Kratom strain is just a name used to describe a set of effects. It is not a real genetic blueprint that can be duplicated like cannabis to replicate the same cannabinoid/alkaloid profiles. That's why Kratom will come out different every time. Oxidation doesn't happen uniformly on a leaf, or even on a set of leaves. Some leaves/parts will be more oxidized than others, even if it's the same leaf from the same tree. Therefore each batch will always be unique. Consistency can most easily be found when drying in the shade or dark, where oxidation is predictably limited along with the alkaloid 7ohm. Large producers try to hedge this inconsistency through creating strains by blending different leaf in order to achieve some consistent effects. Some of them will dry exclusively indoors in order to achieve this. My largest supplier sells me 4 strains that are all dried indoors, and come out the exact same every time, but my Malay, and other sun dried leaf comes out slightly different each batch.

People simply react differently to different chemicals.
While of course, I agree with that to some extent, but I don't think that it plays that large of a role. The differences in experience reported by burners may have more to do with the fact that most burners are habitual, regular burners. So, we all have some sort of desensitization to certain aroma profiles already when we pick up a new one. When that one doesn't work for us, but does for so many others, we chuck it aside and claim it's personal chemical reaction. Of course everyone reacts slightly different to Tylenol, but for the most part the effect is the same. In our case, we are talking about 25 different chemicals that all synergize differently for each given alkaloid profile, all of which have different desensitization rates, and potentiates. The strain that works best for anyone is the one that has an alkaloid profile that you are not desensitized to yet.

There appears to be an infinite amount of alkaloid profiles to found simply determined by how it's dried, all producing a unique "strain" never to be produced again. Indonesians have a different blend for each strain consisting of red (sun dried), green (shade dried), and stem and vein. It's a delicate balance of alkaloids. If you find that magical strain, you better stock up because it may never come around again. Some of us have had it before and some of us are still looking. But, that's all part of the fun (obsession). That is why Kratom is consistently inconsistent.

It's not easy to consistently pick out winners all the time specifically because we don't have blank slates to begin with when testing. Having a dedicated, diligent, diverse, and knowledgeable team of testers is essential. I don't think your vendor is trying to pull a fast one, or his quality isn't slipping. Indonesian agriculture blows. Most of them go straight from grinder to bag. I've had huge variations within one 20kg bag. Unfortunately, It's just the nature of the beast. Manual, hand-mixing leaves hot and cold spots within a batch. The bigger the batch, the harder it is to mix, and the more inconsistent it will be. Now if it comes out drastically different than what you're used to, then it's probably just an error by your vendor, whom im sure would be happy to be informed of the matter and gladly correct it for you.

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