How Does Kratom Affect the Brain?

December 24, 2018 Articles, Kratom Alkaloids, Kratom Research, Kratom Strains

Much has been written about kratom’s effects and purported benefits, but not nearly as much space has been used to document its affects on the human (and animal) brain. All too many noobs come to kratom for recreational purposes because they’ve heard of its potential euphoric properties or its stimulation. But in order to truly understand what you’re burning, it is worth doing a bit of research.

Today we’ll talk about the effects of kratom on cognitive functioning as well as the different ways in which it targets neurotransmitters. Consider this your guide to the cerebral power of kratom and its influence on the Central Nervous System.


To better understand kratom’s effects on the brain, we need to see an exploded view of its many constituents. One can think of kratom like a fine piece of clockwork—it is made up of many unique parts which enable it to work effectively.

Kratom powder comes from the crushed up leaves of Mitragyna speciosa, an Ayurvedic herb that comes from the coffee family of plants. Just like all other naturally occurring substances, kratom’s effects owe to the chemical compounds found within its overall structure.

Kratom comes in a variety of different strains and a range of different vein colors. There’s red vein kratom, white vein kratom, green vein kratom and yellow vein kratom, respectively. Each of these strains contains a host of alkaloids at different volumes of concentration.

There are as many as 33 individual alkaloids within any given kratom strain. Chief among these are the indole alkaloids mitragynine, 7-hydroxymitragynine, speciogynine and corynantheidine. These alkaloids are responsible for kratom’s effects on the brain.

For instance, ajmalicine or Raubasine is a smooth muscle relaxer, but it is also a cerebrocirculant. Such compounds promote healthy blood supply to the cerebral arteries. This assists in constant cerebral blood flow despite changes in perfusion pressure.

Mitragynine is the indole alkaloid that occurs at 66% in each kratom strain. Together with 7-hydroxymitragynine, it is believed to aid in management of pain by attaching to opioid receptors and, thus, creating a reduction in pain perception. By undermining the power of pain signals in the brain, it may help individuals to experience fewer symptoms of chronic pain.

Other alkaloids include Corynoxine A and B, two Dopamine mediators which occur at 1% in kratom. Such compounds are absorbed back into the presynaptic cell via reuptake. This results in sharpened focus and better coordination.

These alkaloids, and others, affect the brain by inducing increased alertness, improved mood and a clean energy boost. Users have reported feeling more motivated, more sociable and less stressed.

Studies have also demonstrated that Mitragyna speciosa has lateral hypothalamus direct inhibition in lab rats, suggesting potential anorectic effects which could facilitate weight loss due to appetite suppression.

In documenting the pharmacology of kratom, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association noted the “wide variety of pharmacologic effects, both in vivo and in vitro.” Furthermore, they took note of 7-hydroxymitragynine’s ability to induce clinically significant antinociceptive response in a dose-dependent manner.

What these studies and many others point to is an inherent medicinal value to the kratom plant, one that has yet to be embraced or fully understood by the Western world but which has enjoyed status as a folk medicine in Southeast Asia for centuries.

Kratom has not been approved for medicinal use by the FDA who actually issued a public warning last year, urging Americans not to take a risk by consuming this “dangerous synthetic drug,” but the kratom community knows better. Thousands of Americans have been using this herbal supplement for years and have raved about its supposed rewards.

As recently as 2017, a study has been released which pokes holes in kratom’s “bad rap.” A team led by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the University of British Columbia compiled 57 years of international scientific evidence which supports kratom’s value as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.

Far from calling it a cure-all or panacea, the study nevertheless backs up the public’s claims that kratom can help them cope with various conditions and disorders. This detailed scientific review can be read here.


As you can see, kratom has many potential effects on the human or animal brain, none of which appear to be cause for alarm. However, the powers that be have not been properly educated about this Ayurvedic herb, nor has the general public. We strongly encourage everyone to visit the American Kratom Association to learn more about kratom, its origins and the scientific evidence that supports it.

Bob Freville
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