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Common Kratom Myths

Updated: Oct 28, 2019

So what happens when you're manufacturing a product for mass consumption, but the powder you import never comes in the exact same shade? You create "strains."


Do you think these are two separate strains? They're not.

The myth of strains


The biggest misnomer in the kratom community is that there's such a thing as all these green vein, white vein and red vein plant strains, or that there are different strains at all, like you would find with cannabis. Neither of these things is actually true. Green and white can grow on the same tree, and still other trees can have every color of leaf vein under the sun.


Kratom literally changes colors, both while alive and after harvest, and combinations of colors can appear on a single tree at any given time, influenced by any number of environmental factors. The leaves are constantly changing throughout the life of the plant. Even week to week, alkaloid profiles and colors can vary in the same plant. Kratom leaves can also change colors after they have been harvested.


Although partially affected by genetics, the colors and effects of the dried powders are due, in large part, to the environment where the trees are grown as well as the curing/drying techniques applied to the leaves, and finally in what combination the cured powders are mixed to create the final product.


These are real photos of real kratom specimens cultivated in controlled conditions in the Magick Powers Potions genetics greenhouse. Kratom can turn any number of stunning colors due to changes in environmental factors.

Kratom is like tea. Here's why.


The best example I can think of is tea. There is no difference between white tea, green tea, black tea and puereh tea in terms of plant source... it all comes from the exact same plant, the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. However, the drying process is different for each type of finished product, and those different processes are what create the different effects we have come to associate with green, white, black tea and puereh tea (the fermented kind). The same applies to kratom.


What has perpetuated the myth of strains is that when people talk about "kratom" they are often talking about a marketed product ---- a cured powder sold by a company that has given it a name (green bali, yellow vietnam, etc.) When the Kratom Bible, for example, talks about white-vein, red-vein, green-vein, etc., their words hold true for kratom the powder (as a marketed product), but not necessarily for the living organism. So yes, while you can go to the store and buy "a white strain," you won't go into the jungle and find a white-vein plant that is a separate strain from a green vein plant. Kratom can be many colors simultaneously or over time. Even if a plant has all one color of veins now, that can change. It's actually a beautiful thing to witness.


Let's talk a little bit about how the drying process creates what we've come to call strains.



Dried kratom leaves, dark red sandwiched between green for contrast.


All powder "strains" result from different styles of curing applied to the same leaves -- and names are often given totally randomly to align with how the product looks after the fact


In Borneo's kratom production regions, they separate all leaves into only two categories (and that's if they separate them at all): regular and horned. These leaves are then dried in different ways and mixed in varying ratios to create every powder "strain" ever sold. However, this is neither exacting nor scientific. Because some farmers dry in the sun, their powder is redder. Because some dry indoors, theirs is lighter. But it's all the same plant. All the same thing... just processed differently.



Strains names are a result of marketing techniques developed by the American marketplace


So what happens when you're manufacturing a product for mass consumption, but the powder you import never comes in the exact same shade? You create "strains."


Although products exist called Green Maeng Da or Bentuangie or Red Bali, these were all created from the same kinds of leaves off the same kinds of plants. The owner of the largest American kratom powder company, Urban Ice Organics, says his workers just spread out all the powder onto tables, call the dark stuff "red," the light stuff "white," and the in-between stuff "green." They do this because they want their product to look as consistent as possible.


But wait a minute? You can tell the difference between a white and a red?


Well that means you are a discerning connoisseur!


Although different colors don't really represent different strains of plants, they DO present different energetic effects as a result of the different drying/curing processes. Just like tea, tobacco and cannabis, how you cure kratom leaves makes a huge difference in the energy and character of the finished product.


So even though "strain" names are all marketing, there's a real difference between the dark stuff and the light stuff. But it happens because of varying oxidation levels in curing, not because there are different kinds of kratom trees out there that make you feel this way or that way.



Tips for buying your own kratom plant


Although some American websites are selling plant cuttings under powder strain names, this is just a technique to get your money. Strains don't exist until the leaves are cured, which means you can make multiple so-called strains out of leaves from a single good tree.


Although more trees will give you more leaves than a single tree will, you don't need to shop for a laundry list of assorted strain names when buying plants... because they don't exist. Look instead for genetically diverse specimens (either directly from seed or 1st generation cuttings) to ensure complex alkaloid profiles and higher variability, most closely mimicking wild rainforest harvests. Avoid buying any plant named after a powder "strain," and also avoid the old clones, especially Bumblebee, as they are consistently showing barely discernible levels of mitragynine in lab tests.


Check out this link for high quality, genetically diverse specimens.



How the drying process creates what we call "strains"


Although the two most most studied psychoactive alkaloids in kratom are mitragynine and 7hydroxy mitragynine, there are also many other active alkaloids, flavonoids and desirable compounds present in the plant material.


Scientists demonstrated that sunlight and oxidizing conditions can convert about half of the mitragynine in solution to 7-hydroxymitragynine. And sunlight alone can convert about 8% of the mitragynine. Therefore, the curing conditions and storage conditions can affect the potency of the harvested product by increasing the amount of the oxidized alkaloid.


Although we are still a ways away from understanding the chemistry behind it, we know various ways to make it happen.







How to make your own kratom strains from homegrown leaves


There are a few simple methods you can use at home, as well as other more involved processes we can discuss later. There are NO SET IN STONE PROCEDURES... every producer does something a little bit different. For simple examples, consider the following:


According to some producers, the only difference between greens, whites and reds is how long the harvested leaves sit oxidizing in the sun. One unnamed producer says one day drying creates his greens, two day drying creates his whites, three day drying creates his reds, and 5 -10 days with alcohol creates his bentuangie. His gold is all three “strains” mixed and fermented together.


Still others dry with minimal direct sunlight, using other oxidizing factors like heat and humidity to create their darker cures.


At Magick Powers Potions we've developed a few easy methods we find work consistently well with domestically cultivated seed-sown kratom leaves. Experiment with your own homegrown leaves to see what works best for you. There are many approaches to this, as herbalism is an art as well as a science.



Magick White Cure


For a white cure, one of the things we do is dry the leaves in cool darkness (think AC and no light whatsoever)... converting very little mitragynine into 7hydroxy mitragynine (and simultaneously catalyzing fewer changes in the presentation of other alkaloids, flavonoids and desirable compounds). This maintains mitragynine's stimulant effects and yields less conversion to the more sedating 7oh alkaloids. It also keeps the leaves' color lighter.



Magick Green Cure


For a green cure, we just do a quick dry in moderate heat and humidity... converting a bit more mitragynine into 7 hydroxy mitragynine (and catalyzing more changes in the profiles of the other constituents). You can sandwich leaves between paper towels or newspaper or cardboard, or line dry by threading the leaves onto a thread with a sharp needle. This cure maintains some of the stimulant properties of mitragynine, but also brings in more of the oxidized analog (7oh MG), making this cure what many consider the best of both worlds.



Magick Red Cure


There are so many ways to pull off a red cure, but they can be tricky! The simplest way is to dry the leaves in the sun or under UV lamps for 3 days, because sunlight (UV) does such a good job of oxidizing the alkaloids. But you can also get fancy, subjecting them to heat and humidity until they begin to bleed red pigments, then drying them in either closed plastic bags (burped daily) or well circulated hot air, thereby turning the product red and converting a larger amount of mitragynine into 7hydroxy mitragynine (and catalyzing a considerable change in the profiles of the other compounds).



Tips for a fermented cure


You can also spray the leaves with grain alcohol, put them in a plastic bag and set them in sun. 5-10 days with alcohol is one farmer's bentuangie, the fermented variety.


It is important to avoid growing mold and pathogens, so be sure to check your leaves frequently to ensure they are drying in good condition.


(Join the Magick Powers Potions mailing list for more curing tutorials.)



This kratom plant is dark green with red veins, but later turned orange.

This orange kratom plant was once dark green with red veins.


What else?


Another surprise? That "yellow vietnam" didn't really come from Vietnam. Although some kratom is cultivated in Vietnam, a lot of the powder bearing that name is harvested in the Borneo Islands and is just given that name to create a commercial offering called "Yellow Vietnam."


The same goes for White Thai or Green Malay. In Thailand and Malaysia, kratom is not harvested for commercial export. Those "strains" are just marketing names.


In the case of Red Bali, it's just a random name given to red powder. There aren't even big kratom growing areas in Bali. It's busting city.



This beautiful kratom plant is a flourescent lime green. Levels of minerals in the soil contribute to the colors of kratom, along with temperature, humidity, soil pH and other environmental factors.


The Myth of Production Maturity


Here is another myth going around: that kratom plants aren't medicinal until they are many years old. This is so false. According to modern Indonesian farming practices, kratom can reach harvest maturity and export quality by the age of one year.


Very old trees can have beautiful and complex alkaloid profiles, aged like a fine wine, but they don't always. And some young trees make incredibly potent medicine. The power lies in the environment and the genetics.


Editor's note (9/1/2019): we have tested seed-sown specimens from our Borneo Rainforest line and found them to be potent at under one year of age. Click here for the full story. We are also seeing more and more cuttings from the old clone lines with only trace amounts of mitragynine in alkaloid tests. Age is certainly not the determining factor.






Some common questions:


Q: If there aren't strains why do some leaves on the plants actually look different? I've seen leaves online that actually have white green and red veins and the leaves look completely different. Explain that.


A: This are due to environmental factors and any plant can have different colored leaves at any given time: soil pH, humidity, temperature all plays a key role. Like hydrangeas for example: pink in one pot, but move them to the yard and they change to a blue color. You can see all the vein colors (and leaf colors... even orange or purplish) appear on the same plants at different times, or even together, depending on variable environmental conditions. The colors are not indicative of separate plant strains, they are just called that for marketing purposes to differentiate between powders that look different from one another.


Q: then what about leaf shape and texture? Some leaves are rounded while others have pointy edges and some leaves look fuzzy while others shiny. What about those variations? And also the color of the leaf itself. Some are dark and some bright green.


A: If your leaves look fuzzy, check for mites! Or maybe you're looking at a closely related species, but not true speciosa. Shining really comes down to humidity levels and the dark green or light green comes down to the amount of nutrients, specifically nitrogen, in the plant material. Kratom exhibits high level of phenoplasticity so there are variations in leaf size and shape. Juvenile leaves are different than adult leaves, and the size and shape of leaves change in relation to light source, heat and other environmental factors. Also, if you clone a plant over and over and over the leaf shape changes.


The "strains" as they've been presented to us to us are just a result of the various curing styles used to process these incredibly magical leaves. There are no subtypes listed for mitragyna speciosa. No true strains have been recognized.



These powders came from the same plant. Different curing processes were applied to the harvested leaves.


Q: And last but not least. What about javanica and hirsuta? Are those different strains?


A: they are different species in the mitragyna family... closely related and also medicinal.





Grow your own kratom! Inventory available from Magick Powers Potions.

Wanna grow kratom?


If you want to join the growing community of North American growers, please contact our cultivation experts at MagickPowersPotions.com and we will help you make your vision a reality.


We have genetics sourced from jungles, forests, rivers and plantations throughout southeast Asia and even Costa Rica. Although these are not separate strains, this variety is representative of the vast genetic diversity expressed in mitragyna speciosa.

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