“Kratom Alkaloids 101: Understanding the Benefits of Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine”

March 11, 2023


Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a plant species belonging to the Rubiaceae family, which is native to Southeast Asia. Its leaves contain more than 40 alkaloids, including mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which have been the focus of scientific research due to their potential therapeutic effects. In this paper, we aim to provide an overview of the pharmacology, benefits, and risks associated with mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.


Mitragynine is the most abundant alkaloid in kratom leaves, accounting for up to 66% of the total alkaloid content. It acts as a partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptor and as an antagonist at the kappa-opioid receptor. These actions result in analgesia, euphoria, and sedation. Mitragynine also exhibits serotonergic and adrenergic activity, which may contribute to its anxiolytic and antidepressant effects.

7-hydroxymitragynine is a minor alkaloid in kratom leaves, but it is much more potent than mitragynine. It acts as a full agonist at the mu-opioid receptor, which makes it a more effective analgesic than mitragynine. However, it also has a higher potential for abuse and dependence, as well as greater risk of respiratory depression and overdose.


Kratom has traditionally been used in Southeast Asia as a folk medicine for various conditions, such as pain, diarrhea, and fatigue. The alkaloids in kratom leaves have been studied for their potential therapeutic effects, including:

  1. Pain relief: Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine have been shown to have analgesic effects, which may be useful for treating chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and neuropathic pain.
  2. Anxiety and depression: Mitragynine has been found to have anxiolytic and antidepressant effects, which may be beneficial for treating mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
  3. Opioid addiction: Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine have been reported to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings in opioid-dependent individuals. However, there is limited clinical evidence to support this use, and there are concerns about the potential for abuse and dependence.
  4. Energy and focus: Low doses of kratom have been reported to have stimulant effects, which may be useful for increasing energy and focus.
  5. Kratom has also been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD, one study found that kratom was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Vicknasingam et al., 2010).


While kratom and its alkaloids have potential therapeutic benefits, there are also risks associated with their use. These risks include:

  1. Dependence and addiction: Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine have been reported to cause dependence and addiction, with withdrawal symptoms similar to those of opioids.
  2. Overdose and respiratory depression: 7-hydroxymitragynine is much more potent than mitragynine and can cause respiratory depression at high doses, which can be fatal.
  3. Adverse effects: Kratom and its alkaloids have been associated with adverse effects, such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, dizziness, and seizures.
  4. Drug interactions: Kratom and its alkaloids may interact with other drugs, including opioids, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants, leading to potentially dangerous interactions.


Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are two of the most studied alkaloids in kratom leaves. They have potential therapeutic effects, including pain relief, anxiety and depression, and opioid addiction. However, there are also risks associated with their use, including dependence, addiction, overdose, respiratory depression, adverse effects, and drug interactions. Therefore, the use of kratom and its alkaloids should be approached with caution, and it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before using them.


  1. Hassan, Z., Muzaimi, M., Navaratnam, V., Yusoff, N. H. M., Suhaimi, F. W., Vadivelu, R., … & Müller, C. P. (2013). From kratom to mitragynine and its derivatives: physiological and behavioural effects related to use, abuse, and addiction. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37(2), 138-151.
  2. Philipp, A. A., Meyer, M. R., Wissenbach, D. K., Weber, A. A., Zapp, J., Maurer, H. H., & Schmidt, P. (2010). Monitoring of kratom or Krypton intake in urine using GC-MS in clinical and forensic toxicology. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry, 397(1), 205-212.
  3. Prozialeck, W. C., Jivan, J. K., & Andurkar, S. V. (2012). Pharmacology of kratom: an emerging botanical agent with stimulant, analgesic and opioid-like effects. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 112(12), 792-799.
  4. Singh, D., Narayanan, S., & Vicknasingam, B. (2016). Traditional and non-traditional uses of mitragynine (kratom): A survey of the literature. Brain Research Bulletin, 126, 41-46.
  5. Warner, M. L., Kaufman, N. C., & Grundmann, O. (2016). The pharmacology and toxicology of kratom: from traditional herb to drug of abuse. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 130(1), 127-138.

-Jay S.

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