Austin Organic Village has emphasized the importance of using proper storage and not overheating during preparation when it comes to kratom. Customers can review the storage newsletter information here and here. Until now, kratom storage and heating suggestions were all educated guesses and conjectures. There is now an actual study that expands on what really happens to the alkaloids when kratom is exposed to different temperatures. Are the word of mouth conclusions and educated guesses long believed to be the truth about how kratom alkaloids react when exposed to extreme temperature variations actually true? Is the temperature that kratom is stored at truly as important as vendors have led consumers to believe? Will boiling or freezing kratom affect the alkaloid content? This newsletter will break down the kratom temperature study, plus review information previously given to customers to see if any of the common practices associated with storage or temperature of kratom need to be altered.
Brief Review of Previous Claims-
Austin Organic Village has stated many times over the years that when it comes to kratom and storage, it’s best to store in an airtight and light-tight container. If the container isn’t light free, then it’s best to make sure that it is in a cool cabinet where the kratom won’t be sitting out in the sun. Continuous exposure to light and air speeds up the oxidation process and can cause key alkaloids to be lower than desired. Storing kratom in a hot garage, or area where it will be exposed to high temps, especially during the summertime in the south, can impact the alkaloid content and make results less effective, or different altogether. For those who like to create kratom extract, tea, or make recipes, it’s important to make sure to keep the temperature below boiling and use a type of citrus to help with alkaloid extraction. As for really cold temperatures, like that of a freezer, AOV has always stated that the alkaloids would be safe in a freezer or refrigerator, but the moisture involved with using these areas as a long term service solution, can get into the product and could cause issues with mold growth.
AOV is pretty sure that the results of the study will back up the suggestions previously made, it will be nice to know for certain that these common practices are, in fact, the best and safest for everyone involved.
The Study in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology–
The study tests for the levels of five different alkaloids found in kratom before, during, and after different lengths of exposure to different temperatures and substances with escalating pH-levels. To understand the pH-level portion of the study, it’s important to understand that pH-levels ultimately describe how acidic or basic a substance is. Refer to the chart above this section to understand where on the scale these tests occurred and visit the sciencebuddies website for a more detailed explanation of the pH- scale. The two main alkaloids that most kratom consumers recognize on sight mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, plus the three other alkaloids, speciociliatin, speciogynine, and paynantheine are what they used to determine the stability of kratom under different conditions. To better understand alkaloids check out AOV’s alkaloid newsletter.
Before the temperature portion of this study began, they tested the impact of light and oxygen exposure in order to know how best to store the samples during the study. They found that storing the samples in sealed test tubes that were placed in a container that light was unable to penetrate was the most efficient way to stabilize the effects of light or oxygen contamination. This means that the light and oxygen does speed up the degradation of alkaloids. Even if it was not as drastic and immediate as the chemical breakdown is when exposed to certain substances and temperatures, it was enough of a difference that they felt the need to remove light and open air from the experiment as much as possible.
Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are the main 2 alkaloids that kratom consumers are concerned about, because those alkaloids are responsible for the desired effects in the human body. In the interest of time, This newsletter will only fully break down the results found with these two alkaloids. The main reason the study contains the other alkaloids was because of their desire to find a more stable alkaloid that would last longer in the human body so that they could create an effective chemical test that would show up consistently when analyzing human blood. The study found the other alkaloids to be more stable and better to use for chemical tests.
The mitragynine test started with human plasma (pH-7.4) and kratom. They froze and thawed the samples 3 full cycles before finding that the mitragynine started to break down. The room temperature sample of plasma and kratom showed a stability time of 6 hours. The same mix was tested again at -20 degrees celsius or -4 degrees fahrenheit, and that sample proved to last an entire month before mitragynine showed significant breakdown. The final test of the same plasma kratom mix was to process the mixture and mitragynine only held up for 48 hours.
They did a number of other tests with descending pH-levels and ascending temperature levels. One of the mixes tested that is most relevant to kratom consumers would be the kratom tea mix at pH-4, this test would also be relevant when making liquid extract. The kratom tea mixture was stable for 14 days. This means, without citric acid used as a preservative, the mitragynine in kratom tea would hold up for 2 weeks before needing to be discarded. In fact, the pH-4 temperature test which spanned from 80 degrees celsius (176 fahrenheit) all the way down to 4 degree celsius (39,2 degrees fahrenheit) the mitragynine stayed mostly stable. There was a 1% loss when the sample was analyzed at 20 degree celsius (68 degrees fahrenheit), which is a negligible loss in the grand scheme of things.
Mitragynine proved to be way more stable than 7-hydroxymitragynine. The only test that really showed a large amount of instability for mitragynine was the pH-2 test when it was performed at 80 degrees celsius (176 degree fahrenheit). In fact, the mitragynine levels declined so rapidly that they were pretty much completely gone by the time the sample reached the 10 hour mark. As this sample was fully submerged in a pH-2 substance, which is the equivalent of lemon juice or vinegar, the implications for making kratom tea or extract aren’t really affected as much as it may seem at first glance. Water generally has a natural pH of around 7 unless it has been purposefully altered. When making kratom tea or extract, the bulk of the mixture is water, then kratom, and lastly citric acid or lemon juice. The small amount of lemon juice or citric acid added would only lower the pH-levels a little. For instance, it could go from pH-7 to pH-5 or pH-4. This puts the tea or extract in the making back into a stable pH category. This means that as long as those making tea, cooking, or making extract with kratom keep the low temperature below boiling and below 176 degrees fahrenheit, the mitragynine levels will be safe and barely altered. Any temperature above 176 makes the mitragynine very unstable and there will be significant loss rather quickly.
The alkaloid, 7-hydroxymitragynine, is imperative to the consumer experience that customers are expecting. It is also a bit of a sensitive alkaloid. It tends to be a bit higher than what is found in the natural plant when the leaves are processed and ground into a powder. During the performed tests mixed with different pH-level substances, and different temperatures, this alkaloid became unstable very quickly. When mixed with simulated gastric fluid at pH-1.2, 7-hydroxymitragynine became unstable in 2 hours, then in just 2.5 hours with simulated intestinal fluid at pH-6.8 the alkaloid became unstable. It did last for 3 cycles through the freeze and thaw experiment just like with mitragynine. It’s worth taking note that they used human plasma for mitragynine compared to using rat plasma for 7-hydroxymitragynine when doing the cycles of freeze and thaw, 25 degrees celsius (77 degrees fahrenheit), and the -20 degrees celsius (-4 degrees fahrenheit) experiments. The results here varied slightly showing that 7-hydroxymitragynine stayed stable for twice as long as mitragynine during the 25 degrees celsius test, only becoming unstable at 12 hours rather than 6. The test for -20 degrees celsius yielded the same results as mitragynine at 1 month. The processed control sample stayed stable for 48 hours, echoing the mitragynine results. They did a urine sample test with the 7-hydroxymitragynine with no pH-level stated. The urine was kept at 4 degrees celsius and stayed stable for 14 days.
The results of the 7-hydroxymitragynine ascending pH-level and descending temperature test showed a much higher level of instability compared to mitragynine. During the pH-2 test, 100% of 7-hydroxymitragynine was destroyed after eight hours, with only 93% being destroyed at 60 degrees celsius, 32% at 40 degrees celsius, 4% at 20 degrees celsius, and 0% at 4 degrees celsius. That’s a huge difference from the mitragynine results. All of the 7-hydroxymitragynine temperature and pH-level experiments in this section, regardless of actual pH level showed a much higher susceptibility to instability when exposed to 80 degrees, 60 degrees, and even 40 degrees to a lesser extent. Both acidic and basic pH-levels in this set of tests were found less stable. Please check the chart above for a full breakdown.
This means that in order to store, make tea, extract, or any sort of edible recipe, the consumer will have to be much more cautious to keep the 7-hydroxymitragynine stable. Interestingly enough, leaves directly off of a kratom tree have little to no 7-hydroxymitragynine. This alkaloid forms at higher levels specifically when the plant is dried and processed into powder or crushed leaf.
This study is extremely informative in multiple ways. For instance, because they wanted to make sure there was no light or oxygen contamination to interfere with the results, they found that continued exposure to both light and oxygen causes the alkaloids to begin to break down. The process is much slower than temperature variables and pH-levels are at making the active alkaloids unstable, but it still happens. Therefore, they made sure to keep exposure to light and oxygen to a minimum in order to keep the data collected during the study as accurate as possible. The only conclusion to possibly come to is that AOV was correct in the advice given for best storage practices in previous newsletters.Any long kratom that is being stored for more than two weeks needs to be sealed in a light and airtight container and stored in a cool dry place.
The temperature portion is a bit more complicated. When making kratom extract or tea, it’s nearly impossible not to lose some alkaloid content. The advice previously given and used throughout the years by kratom consumers seems to yield quality results. Could the process be tweaked and ultimately leave more of the alkaloids intact? Maybe it can be improved, but it will take a lot of trial and error, plus the inevitable loss of product when batches aren’t successful. Either way, it is fascinating to consider how many evolutionary transitions and environmental conditions had to align in order to make this unique plant with the specific characteristics and benefits contained within its unremarkable appearance.