Kratom, whose botanical name is Mitragyna speciosa, is a deciduous tree native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, including countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. The tree belongs to the Rubiaceae family, which also includes coffee and gardenia plants. Historically, the indigenous populations of these regions have utilized kratom for various purposes, ranging from traditional medicine to a component in cultural rituals.
The leaves of the kratom tree are the primary source of its bioactive compounds. These leaves are rich in several alkaloids, with mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine being the most prominent. These compounds interact with the body’s opioid receptors, although they do so in a manner distinct from traditional opioids. As a result, kratom can produce a spectrum of effects, from stimulation at low doses to sedation at higher doses. This dual-action has made kratom an intriguing substance for many, leading to its use for pain relief, mood enhancement, and even as a potential tool for ***opioid withdrawal management.***
However, the increasing global interest in kratom has also raised concerns. Its pharmacological profile, potential for misuse, dependence, and the lack of comprehensive research on its long-term effects have led to debates among healthcare professionals, policymakers, and researchers. In some countries, kratom is considered a controlled substance, while in others, it remains legal and easily accessible.
Given the rising popularity of kratom and the controversies surrounding its use, there is an increasing need to monitor its consumption. This has led to questions about how kratom is detected in drug tests, especially in contexts like employment screening, athletic testing, and clinical diagnostics. While standard drug tests may not identify kratom, specialized tests have been developed to detect its primary alkaloids, reflecting the growing recognition of kratom’s significance in the realm of substance use and monitoring.
Standard Drug Tests: What Do They Detect?
Standard drug tests, such as the urine drug screen (UDS) or the 5-panel drug test, are designed to detect commonly abused substances. These tests typically screen for:
- Opioids (e.g., morphine, heroin)
- Marijuana (THC)
The active compounds in kratom, primarily mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, are structurally distinct from the substances listed above. As a result, they are not identified by these standard tests.
Specialized Tests for Kratom Detection
Given the rising use of kratom and concerns about its potential for abuse, specialized tests have been developed to detect its presence:
This advanced analytical technique separates compounds in a sample and then identifies them based on their mass and charge. It’s highly sensitive and can detect even trace amounts of kratom’s alkaloids.
Another sophisticated method, GC-MS vaporizes the sample before analyzing it. Like LC-MS, it can accurately identify and quantify kratom alkaloids.
Some laboratories have formulated urine tests that are fine-tuned to detect mitragynine. These tests are more accessible than LC-MS or GC-MS and can be used in settings where there’s a specific interest in detecting kratom use.
Factors Influencing Kratom Detection
The detectability of kratom in the body is influenced by several variables:
- Dosage: As with many substances, larger doses of kratom increase the amount of the drug in the system, potentially extending the detection window.
- Frequency of Use: Chronic users may have accumulated levels of kratom’s alkaloids, leading to a longer detection period compared to infrequent users.
- Metabolism: An individual’s metabolic rate can significantly impact how quickly substances are processed and eliminated.
- Age: Generally, metabolic processes decelerate with age, potentially leading to prolonged retention of substances.
- Body Fat: Some compounds are lipophilic, meaning they are stored in fat. If kratom’s alkaloids have this property, individuals with higher body fat might retain them for more extended periods.
Hydration and Urinary pH: Both factors can influence the concentration and excretion rate of substances in the urine. A more acidic urine pH can lead to faster excretion of certain drugs.
Implications and Recommendations
Given the increasing prevalence of kratom use and the potential for its abuse, there’s a growing need for awareness regarding its detection. Individuals who consume kratom, especially in regions or settings where its use might be frowned upon or illegal, should be informed about the types of drug tests they might encounter.
Furthermore, employers, clinicians, and drug rehabilitation centers should be aware of the limitations of standard drug tests in detecting kratom. If there’s a specific interest in monitoring kratom use, they should consider employing specialized tests designed for this purpose.
How Long Does Kratom Stay in Your System?
Understanding the duration for which kratom remains detectable in the body is crucial for both clinical and legal perspectives. The duration kratom stays in one’s system is influenced by its pharmacokinetics, which encompasses absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. Here’s a comprehensive look at the factors that determine how long kratom remains in the system:
- Half-life of Kratom: The half-life of a substance is the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body. Studies on kratom’s primary alkaloid, mitragynine, suggest its half-life is approximately 3.85 ± ~1 hour. However, this is a preliminary estimate, and the half-life can vary based on several factors. Given this half-life, it would take around 20-24 hours to eliminate 95% of the ingested mitragynine from the system. However, this doesn’t account for other alkaloids present in kratom, some of which might have longer half-lives.
- Metabolic Rate: Individuals with faster metabolic rates may process and excrete kratom more quickly than those with slower metabolisms.
- Age: Older individuals tend to have slower metabolic rates, which can result in a prolonged duration of kratom in their system. Reduced kidney and liver function in the elderly can also contribute to slower drug clearance.
- Body Fat: Mitragynine is fat-soluble, meaning it can be stored in fat tissues and released over time. Individuals with higher body fat percentages might retain kratom alkaloids for a more extended period than those with lower body fat.
- Genetics: Genetic factors can influence how an individual metabolizes drugs. Some people might have genetic variations that make them fast or slow metabolizers of certain substances, including kratom’s alkaloids.
- Hydration and Urinary pH: Hydration levels can influence the concentration of substances in urine. Additionally, the pH of urine can affect the reabsorption and excretion of drugs. Acidic urine might promote faster elimination of certain substances.
- Frequency and Amount of Use: Chronic and heavy kratom users might have accumulated levels of the drug in their system, leading to a longer detection window compared to occasional or first-time users.
- Concurrent Medications: Some medications can influence the metabolism of kratom, either speeding up its elimination or causing it to remain in the system longer.
While the exact duration kratom stays in one’s system can vary widely based on numerous factors, it’s estimated that the primary alkaloid, mitragynine, could be detectable for up to a day or slightly longer after ingestion. However, for chronic or heavy users, or due to the presence of other alkaloids, kratom might be detectable for several days post-ingestion. As with many substances, individual variability plays a significant role, and the above factors should be considered comprehensively when estimating the duration of kratom in the system.
Though kratom remains undetected by most conventional drug tests, the development and availability of specialized tests mean that its use can be identified when specifically sought. Awareness of these testing capabilities is crucial for both consumers and professionals in various sectors.
***The FDA has not approved Kratom and clinical testing has not been performed to substantiate the claim some have made that Kratom can be used for opiate withdrawal. If you are currently in need of assistance for opiate withdrawal, contact a healthcare provider for assistance.***