Sounds like the set up to a Seinfeld bit, a little doesn’t it. But seriously though, folks, if you’re new to this topic, the dozens of regional varieties and differences along with multiple strain colors and, on top of that, vendors adding flashy names atop the standardly accepted method of categorizing can make dipping your toe into the kratom pool a bit daunting at first, but don’t worry often the antidote to hysteria or confusion is a decent dose of information.
In the past few years there’s been quite a bit of a buzz surrounding the kratom bush, mitragyna speciosa. Kratom is a plant that grows in Southeastern Asia that is a member of the Rubiacea family, from which the coffee plant hails. Kratom has been used traditionally for hundreds of years as a minor stimulant like coffee to help power through a tedious work week or for pain management and other mild to moderate conditions as well as a mood lifter.
There are many varieties of kratom but unlike coffee, each one has a unique alkaloidal makeup that is responsible for slight variations in it’s actions and benefits. Many kratom vendors tout several styles of kratom with hyped names that don’t even describe the two most important varietal differences. When it comes right down to it, there are two primary things that will affect alkaloidal difference in kratom and since it’s the alkaloids in the plant that are responsible for the effects then different strains will have slightly different experience. You can basically demarcate kratom by separating it into leaf and vein color (red, green, white, yellow, brown, black) and the geographical origin of the plant.
Kratom researcher E.J. Shellard was one of the first scientists to explore kratom and it’s many alkaloids and their activities. By the 70‘s his research already suggested that kratom may have varietal differences that are based on it’s region of growth and the vein colors. These differences in alkaloids are responsible for difference in potency, effect, duration and whether the strain is more energizing, sedating or analgesic (paintrelieving).
Apart from regional variances which cause plants to differ, due to different climate and soil mineral content and other factors, one of the best ways to classify kratom is through it’s vein color. The three most commonly found vein colors are red, green and white.
Red veined kratom are named thusly due to the beautiful reddish tint to their veins. Red veined varietals will generally contain the highest quantitiy of mitragynine and 7-OH-mitragynine. MG and 7-OH-MG are mu and delta opioid agonists. What this means is that, despite being neither opiate, nor synthetically derived from opiates like opioid drugs, it has some of the same types of analgesic (pain relieving) effects. Red veined kratom has been used effectively by thousands in place of opiate pain management or to either wean off opiates or to wean off dangerously addictive, but legal opiate substitutes like methodone or suboxone.
White veined kratom are the most stimulating of the three colors and have been known to enhance mood. White veined kratom actually has the least amount of the pain killing alkaloids in the kratom plant, but is often used either as an energizer or for it’s anecdotally reported anti-depressant properties. Some folks who need powerfully sedating strains like red veined Bali or red veined Indo mix in a bit of white vein so that the sedating effects of the red vein aren’t so overpowering.
Green vein is the most balanced of the plants, it is a potent antioxidant , more so than green tea even. It also has immunostimulant properties due to the alkaloids isopteropodine, isorhynchophylline, isomitraphylline, mitraphylline and due to it’s being a well rounded mix between the sedating, pain-killing red vein and the mood lifting, cognitive enhancing, energizing white veins, it’s a popular choice for daily use.
Many people get the best results by trying several different strain and vein color combinations and using one for a few days then going on to a different vein/strain type or blend of types. Due to the multitude of alkaloids this is one of the best ways to prevent habituation to one type and it’s particular alkaloidal profile.