Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) as a potential therapy for opioid dependance.
“A decoction of Kratom leaves was lyophilized to a light brown powder that was characterized based on mitragynine content and dosed to mice based on a survey of human users.”
Mitragyna speciosa Korth (Rubiaceae) is a Southeast Asian tree whose leaves are the origin of the Thai traditional drug “Kratom”. The extract of this plant possesses unique pharmacological actions that include a coca-like stimulant as well opium-like depressant actions. Traditionally, the plant extract has been used as an opium substitute, and it has been clinically used in Thailand to wean addicts off opiates. More recently, human case reports have appeared in the literature from use in the United States (US) and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has announced an intention to place Kratom into Schedule I. However, detailed pharmacological studies are lacking in animals to determine if Kratom or the major alkaloid, mitragynine, is able to attenuate the effects of opioid withdrawal and therefore medical potential. This talk will provide a background on the ethnopharmacological basis we utilized to examine the ability of Kratom extracts or mitragynine, compared to methadone, in murine opioid withdrawal assays. A decoction of Kratom leaves was lyophilized to a light brown powder that was characterized based on mitragynine content and dosed to mice based on a survey of human users. Detailed analytical and pharmacokinetic studies provided information on equivalent dosing of the individual alkaloid, mitragynine, in order that the results could be directly compared to those given in the lyophilized Kratom groups. Lyophilized Kratom was dosed orally and significantly attenuated opioid withdrawal with regard to locomotor activity, jumping, paw tremors, teeth chattering but did not attenuate wet-dog shakes or loss in weight. Interestingly, mitragynine alone, administered orally, produced significant blockade of all withdrawal effects and did not effect weight. This data indicates that formulations of Kratom or mitragynine are worthy of further investigation as potential pharmacological treatments for opioid withdrawal.