Alkaloids: An Essential Component Of The Kratom Plant

Everything that we eat, drink, and otherwise ingest is made up of dozens or hundreds of different compounds that come together to create a specific item. One of those naturally occurring organic compounds that aren’t often covered in great detail is an alkaloid.

Alkaloids are present in many different foods, drinks, and medicines, but that doesn’t mean that this category is familiar to the everyday person. Each of these alkaloids has its own set of effects and uses, so it is common for each alkaloid to be known by its specific name rather than as an alkaloid.

Today, learn more about alkaloids, what they are, where they show up, and why you might be interested in paying more attention to them moving forward. There are a slew of alkaloids found in Kratom, so learning how they work will help you better understand your favorite plant product.

Alkaloids: An Organic Compound Found in Nature

Alkaloids are a specific category of naturally occurring chemical compounds. Specifically, alkaloids are basic organic compounds that contain at least one nitrogen atom. Beyond nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen, alkaloids can contain a wide variety of other elements, including:

  • • Sulfur
  • • Oxygen
  • • Bromine
  • • Phosphorus
  • • Chlorine

This classification of organic compounds is not always clear as some people imagine that it should be. The common cyclical structure of alkaloids isn’t required for classification, and this means that between the different subcategories, many structures overlap closely with the structures and functions of amino acids, proteins, amines, and more. 

However, the biological function is often what sets them apart. Still, some scientists continue to argue that alkaloids should be considered a subtype of a larger organic compound. In the future, the classification of alkaloids may change.

What’s The Biological Function of Alkaloids?

Now that you know some basics about alkaloids let’s get a better idea of exactly what alkaloids do in the body. However, this gets complicated from the very beginning because alkaloids don’t have a singular purpose in the body: they have many!

These organic compounds are found in plants, animals, fungi, and even in bacteria. Science has shown that in most cases, these are a type of secondary metabolite. This means that they are likely not necessary for the primary functions of life: reproduction, growth, and development.

However, the reactions caused by these organic compounds in the body can help to improve the organism’s quality of life and lead to long-term selective advantages for an organism. There are also many cases where the exact function or reason for their presence is unknown, and science will need to continue to study the alkaloids and organisms for answers.

What is clear is that alkaloids can bind to many different receptors in the body. Where and how the alkaloids bind depends on how the alkaloid is arranged. Every alkaloid reacts in an organism differently because each alkaloid has a unique structure and binding arrangement. This means that each alkaloid needs to be studied individually to truly understand what it does or can do.

Where Alkaloids are Commonly Found

When you first hear of alkaloids, you might think that you’ve never had any before, but that’s likely not true! If you’ve ever drunk anything that contains caffeine, you have ingested an alkaloid. Caffeine is an alkaloid that is derived from a number of plant sources, the most common being Coffea arabica, or, coffee!

Tobacco cigarettes contain nicotine, which comes from Nicotiana tabacum. Pain kills that include morphine or codeine, which are both alkaloids, come from Papaver somniferum– also known as poppies!

These are just a few of the places where alkaloids show up, but every plant and animal contains some type of alkaloid. Some alkaloids have very potent effects while others only have very mild results. This is why you might not be aware of just how many alkaloids there are, and only a few of them have very recognizable names and uses outside of the medical or scientific community.

It will be very interesting to see how plant-derived alkaloids continue to be studied. Many will likely be added to medicinal uses, which we’ll talk more about below, but others may simply come to be recognized as the reason why some foods taste so good!

Medical and Societal Uses For Alkaloids

The most interesting parts of alkaloids for most people are the applications. Alkaloids are commonly used in medicines, foods, and even some industrial products. 

Alkaloids were first used in clinical medicine back in the 1800s, and now, they still show up in a variety of different medicines. Specifically, the following alkaloids show up in medicine thanks to some specific effects they can create:

  • Morphine (analgesic)
  • Nicotine (stimulant)
  • • Tubocurarine (relaxant)
  • • Yohimbine (stimulant)
  • • Reserpine (antihypertensive)

These are just a few of the many applications of alkaloids in the medicinal world. As more alkaloids are discovered and studied, it is possible that alkaloids will contribute to the development of more unique and beneficial foods and therapies.

Alkaloids and Kratom: What’s The Connection?

You might be wondering why we’re here talking about alkaloids in such great detail. Our interest in alkaloids came about because there are numerous alkaloids in kratom, including mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which are thought of as the plant’s two primary alkaloids. Mitragynine, which naturally occurs in the highest quantities, is even kratom’s Latin namesake.

This is why kratom vendors like us list the concentration of these alkaloids found in their kratom products. The amount of kratom in any particular form of kratom could be responsible for some of how your body reacts to it.

We wanted to learn more about the broader category of alkaloids to have a better understanding of what these alkaloids are and how they are structured. By learning more about alkaloids, we’ve learned more about kratom.

Today, we wanted to share some of that knowledge with any curious customers. That’s what this blog is for! If there’s ever a topic that you would like us to cover so that you can learn more, feel free to reach out to us at any time. We’re always happy to do some research to become better-informed vendors and then share that knowledge with customers like you as well.

Check out our blog post ‘What Are Kratom Alkaloids?‘ for more detailed information on the specific compounds found in Kratom.

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